Bensonhurst Kitchen: Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup is one of those great Transatlantic misunderstandings. The name might suggest that this was once the preferred dish at rustic wedding feasts in some picturesque Southern Italian locale. Unfortunately for our collective imagination, nothing could be further from the truth.

The name is a semi-literal translation of Minestra Maritata, or “married soup.” However, the mention of marriage simply refers to the successful pairing of green leafy vegetables with red meat.

While the name might come as a disappointment, this is one soup that never fails to please here in the Bensonhurst Kitchen. Colleen combines homemade meatballs, ditalini pasta, and an entire salad box of spinach (!) in a nutritious and delicious winter dish that makes for an energizing antidote to the common cold. If chicken soup is Jewish penicillin, then I hereby nominate this as its Italian equivalent.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups beef stock
1 6oz bag fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery (approximately 2 stalks)
1 cup dried ditalini pasta
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Meatballs:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl combine beef, minced onion, salt, garlic powder, Italian
seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

Add milk, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and mix thoroughly.

Using the mixture, form 1 inch meatballs and place on a parchment paper
lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside.

Soup:

In a large soup pot over medium heat saute diced onion, minced garlic,
carrots and celery in the olive oil until softened (approximately 5-6
minutes).

Add chicken stock and beef stock the vegetables, bring to a boil. Add
ditalini and cook until tender, but still al dente.

Reduce heat to simmer and stir in the baby spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes
or until the spinach is wilted.

Add meatballs to the soup and simmer for an additional 1 minute.

Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

TIPS:

Need to make quick work of a weeknight dinner? Make the meatballs 1-2 days
before and refrigerate them.

If you are a lover of leftovers but not mushy pasta, make the soup as per
the recipe excluding the step of cooking the pasta. Boil pasta separately
and add portions to soup before serving.

Recipe and tips by Colleen

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