Thursday, May 1, 2008

Italian Wedding Soup, I Vow it is Great!

I have eaten Italian Wedding soup at restaurants and have always wanted to make it myself. I wondered why it was called "Wedding Soup." I have been to many Italian weddings but they didn't serve this soup at them. I did a little research and found out that the term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian language name, minestra maritata, which refers to the fact that green vegetables and meats go well together in the soup. Some form of minestra maritata was long popular in Toledo, Spain before pasta became an affordable commodity to most Spaniards, though the modern wedding soup is quite a bit lighter than the old Spanish form, which contained quite a few more meats than just the meatballs of modern American versions. I also learned that even in Italy when this soup is prepared today, they don't use many of the traditional meats because they are difficult to find and very expensive. Some of the recipes I came across also use shredded chicken in the soup. I didn't see the need for it but I'm sure it would be good, too. You can substitute endive, escarole, cabbage, lettuce, or kale for the spinach.

I used frozen spinach in the soup as well as a carton of prepared chicken broth (Nature's Promise brand). My soup is excellent. I just ate a bowl to taste-test it for you. I would think that if you used fresh spinach and home-made chicken stock, the soup would be even better! Enjoy.

Wedding Soup
Serves 6 to 8

1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup pastina (tiny pasta)
3 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped (divided use)
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 pound spinach, chopped (if using frozen, be sure to squeeze it dry)
1/2 pound lean ground beef
3 eggs (divided use)
2 teaspoons Italian-flavored bread crumbs (I used organic and added my own Italian flavorings)
3 teaspoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, freshly grated if possible (divided use)
1 small onion, finely minced

In a soup pot, combine the chicken broth, water, pastina, 1 teaspoon parsley, carrot and spinach. Bring to a low boil. Meanwhile, make the meatballs that will go into the broth. Gently mix together the ground beef, 1 egg, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon grated cheese, the remaining 2 teaspoons parsley and the onion.

Form tiny meatballs; you should have about 30 or so. Drop the meatballs into the boiling broth mixture and simmer until they are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs. With a wooden spoon, stir the soup as you pour in the eggs. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Serve with the rest of the grated cheese, if desired.

The Creative Cook