I don't know why this delicious soup is called Wedding Soup. I read somewhere that it was because the flavors are wedded together perfectly. To me, though, it reminds me of a childhood favorite soup called chickarina which was made with chicken meatballs and no greens. This is made with beef meatballs and greens, but you can definitely substitute ground chicken for the ground beef and have a delicious, lighter soup. In fact, I may do that next time!
I can eat soup every single day, so don't go by me - my dear friend pronounced this soup absolutely delicious last night, so you can take that to the bank. Serve it with lots of freshly grated parmesan on top. Get the soup bubbling on the stove first, then make the meatballs and drop them in, next add the pasta to cook, and lastly, add the greens to cook or to wilt, depending on what greens you have on hand. This is best made with extremely flavorful chicken broth - I make my own chicken bone broth in the instant pot and it is amazing! Save 3 chicken carcasses, picked clean, or the equivalent in bones. Cover with water in the pot, set for one hour at high pressure, let reduce naturally. No need to add anything other than salt - the chicken flavor is divine!
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUPFor the soup:
2 large onions, diced small, about 1/4" (about 1 1/2 cups)
2-3 large celery stalks, with leaves, diced small (about 3/4 - 1 cup)
2-3 large carrots, diced small (about 3/4 - 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic minced or pressed (about 1 1/2 Tbs)
1 - 2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 quarts rich chicken bone broth
3/4 cup (for brothy soup) or 1 cup (for a more substantial, thicker soup) small soup pasta, such as:
acini de pepe, orzo, ditalini, mini farfalle, or even Israeli coucous
6 oz fresh greens, roughly chopped (escarole, spinach, kale, even arugula is good)
In a 5 or 6 quart soup pot with a heavy bottom, saute the onion, celery, and carrots in the olive oil. When onion is transparent, and perhaps just golden at the edges, add the garlic and saute for a minute or two more. Add the broth and let simmer while you make the meatballs
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef (or chicken)
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (put 1 -2 slices in your blender or processor)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (or 1 heaping Tbs dry)
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano (or 1 scant tsp dry)
2 Tbs minced onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large egg
1 Tbs olive oil if meat is very lean, skip otherwise
Mix all ingredients well with your hands and form into 1" balls. I use a melon baller for this.
Put it all together:
Once the soup has simmered for 20 or more minutes and the carrots are tender, add in the meatballs, and return to simmer 10 minutes. If using a tough green, like kale, add the kale with the meatballs. Stir in the pasta after the meatballs have cooked 10 minutes, and simmer 5 more minutes. If using a tender green like arugula or escarole, add in and cook for about 3 minutes. If using spinach, add on top and let it wilt - no further simmering is necessary. Taste for salt and pepper. Depending on the broth used, you may need up to 1 Tbs of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper for the pot.
Ladle into bowls and serve with freshly grated parmesan on top.
Nota Bene: for a similar, but lighter soup, check out my recipe for Brodetto con Polpetti