Italian Wedding Soup is an elegant yet simple soup recipe with a clear broth, meatballs, pasta, and veggies. The combination is the perfect marriage of flavors, thus the name. The English name ‘Italian Wedding Soup’ is from the Italian translation of minestra maritata, or married soup.
I bake the meatballs for the wedding soup. It’s faster, easier, healthier, and frees you up to prepare the other ingredients in the soup. Funnily enough, lately, I have been making the Italian Wedding Soup using ground bison for the meatballs. I love bison, it’s very healthy, low fat and high in protein, however, it does have one problem, it’s very dry meat. If you’re looking for a good recipe to use bison, it makes perfect meatballs for a brothy soup like this.
Italian wedding soup is one of the most beautiful soups. Therefore, a couple of things I like to do in the preparation is to cut the carrots in large pieces (meatball sized) and spinach leaves whole. And Ditalini pasta is the smallest shape I use. I want everything to have a presence in the soup and the large pieces are mouthwatering to look at.
Italian Wedding Soup Ingredients
- Meatballs: I use a simple meatball recipe for this soup. Many recipes use sausage or a combination of the two. I like it both ways, but I prefer to make the meatballs or the sausage myself so I control the ingredients.
- Egg, Milk, and Panko Breadcrumbs: This is what makes these Meatballs moist and delicious! When making meatballs you use a cooking technique called a ‘Panade’. It is a combination of starch and liquid that is mixed into ground meats in order to bind them. By adding liquid to the binder, you keep the cooked meatballs tender and juicy.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano: Use the best quality Parmesan cheese you can. If it was sitting on a shelf in a can unrefrigerated, it’s not the same.
- Chicken Broth: I prefer to use homemade chicken broth in this recipe, however, a good quality store-bought stock works well.
- Carrots, Celery, and Onions: The wedding soup has a very simple mix of veggies, but the flavor is extraordinary. In Italian cooking, sometimes the simplest recipes are the most incredible.
- Greens: There are a variety of greens that can be used in Italian Wedding Soup. I prefer fresh baby spinach, not frozen. It has a beautiful color and texture and only takes a few seconds to cook. I also like baby spinach, as it doesn’t require any work, other green will require chopping. Many of the classic wedding soup recipes use escarole, endive, cabbage, or lettuce. All of these work great, but I think baby spinach is the prettiest.
Best Pasta for Italian Wedding Soup
I like to use ditalini pasta I think it is the right size and has a beautiful small tube shape. Elbow or small shells are about the right size as well.
You don’t want to use smaller pasta than ditalini, I think they get lost visually. The meatballs are 1-inch, the size of ping-pong balls. The carrots are also cut into 1-inch pieces. Since the other components in the soup are large, you want to use pasta that is small, but not too small. I have made Italian Wedding Soup with tortellini before, which was a little too big in my opinion.
So, the best pasta for the soup has a size that is no smaller than ditalini and not as big as tortellini.
Here is my recipe for Italian Wedding Soup
Italian Wedding Soup
- 1 Pound Ground Beef Bison works great
- 1 Egg
- 1/4 Cup Flat-Leaf Parsley Finely chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Crushed and chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Milk or Half & Half
- 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs Panko works great
- 1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Finely Ground
- 2 Quarts Low Sodium Chicken Stock
- 2 Cups Carrots Peeled, large 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 Cup Celery Small dice
- 1/4 Cup Onion Small dice
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red pepper Flakes
- 2 Cups Ditalini Pasta
- 5 Ounces Baby Spinach
- Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
- Olive Oil
For the Meatballs
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Combine all of the meatball ingredients, except the meat. Mix together well. Add the meat and combine to mix all the ingredients evenly through the mixture.
- Use a 1-inch kitchen scoop (ice cream scoop) to form equally sized meatballs. Place them on a parchment-lined sheet tray that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Bake for 30-minutes.
For the Soup
- Combine all soup ingredients in a stock pot, except for the pasta and spinach. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the carrots are almost cooked. Approximately 25-minutes.
- Increase the heat to a low boil, and add the cooked meatballs and pasta. Cook for the pasta manufacturer's recommended time for al dente.
- Add the spinach to wilt (approximately 1-minute) and stir to combine
- Serve warm with a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.