Italian Wedding Soup may just be the most perfect bowl of goodness out there. One of the unique things about this soup is that it is very much a “Pittsburgh” thing. I loved growing up there and having such a great variety of ethic food at my fingertips. Even though I currently reside in the South, I love my trips back home for Family and Food. Check out this article that was published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It’s a very interesting read about Western Pennsylvania’s connection to Italian Wedding Soup.
Did you know that it is not called Italian Wedding Soup because it is served at weddings? Its name is derived from the “marriage” of meat and greens. Although, attend a wedding in Pittsburgh, and you may just get lucky enough to have this served during dinner.
HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
Let’s talk meatballs. In my opinion, meatballs make this dish and lend so much flavor to the soup. I highly recommend using meatloaf mix. Meatloaf mix is sold with equal amounts of beef, pork and veal. Yes, you can use only beef. However, the meatballs just won’t taste the same, nor will they be as tender.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Allow the meat to come to room temperature. Place in a bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the remaining meatball ingredients. Combine gently until all is incorporated. Do NOT over mix. Do note, I do not, never ever, ever, put onions in my meatballs. You will also notice that there is no need for an egg. The heavy whipping cream is all you need. The cream makes for a more tender meatball and lends a flavor that is out of this world. Make my Spaghetti and Meatballs, and you will see exactly what I mean.
Form mix into tiny meatballs and place on sheet pan. Do not worry about making the meatballs all the same size. The more rustic looking, the better. Place in oven and bake until just browned. This should take roughly six to eight minutes. Also, do not worry if they are not completely cooked. The meatballs will cook more in the soup. Reserve.
HOW TO MAKE THE SOUP
First things first, the stock. I made a really quick semi-homemade stock by combining seven cups of boxed chicken broth with a whole rotisserie chicken (minus the breast meat of course…that went down my pie hole), and a few stalks of celery. Simmer for about thirty to forty-five minutes. As alternatives, you can definitely use your own homemade stock, or stock right out of the box instead. However, the stock I made was so flavorful. If you decide to make my quick stock, start ahead of time and allow to simmer while you are preparing the meatballs.
Start boiling a pot of water for the pasta. Be sure to salt the water. Cook the pasta to al dente (keep in mind that once you add to the hot broth, the pasta will continue to cook). Drain. Do NOT rinse. Acini di pepe is always my pasta of choice for this recipe. Orzo is a great substitute. Of course, I used pasta from Delallo!
In a big soup pot, heat up the olive oil. Toss in the carrots and celery and allow to cook for just a few minutes. Pour in the chicken stock. Season with just a touch of kosher salt and black pepper. Place lid and allow to simmer for about twenty minutes. This will allow the carrots and celery to soften.
TO FINISH AND SERVE THE ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
After the soup has simmered, add in the meatballs. Stir in the pasta just a little at a time. As noted in the ingredients, half a pound to three-quarters should do fine. If you add too much pasta, the pasta has the tendency to soak up all of the stock. In that case, you may have to add more stock.
Toss in the spinach and allow it to just wilt. Serve up this fabulous Italian Wedding Soup in big bowls garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. ENJOY! Click here to check out my short video cooking up this amazing soup!
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