Steve called from the road on Wednesday and told me he wanted Italian wedding soup for dinner Friday night when he got home.
Keep in mind that my husband very rarely asks for a specific meal. Oh sure, every once in a while, he might get a hankering for something he loves. And when he does, he mentions very casually that he’d love it if I would consider making it again sometime soon. Otherwise, he is quite happy to consume whatever I put in front of him.
But this time, Steve stated quite clearly, that he wanted Italian wedding soup. See, the poor man was very, very sick last week. He probably should have cancelled his business trip and convalesced at home. But he is a bit stubborn about certain things (feeling under the weather being one of them), so he went anyway. And by Wednesday, he felt so poorly, all he wanted was his bed and a hot bowl of …well, apparently, Italian wedding soup!
Truthfully? I was shocked. Not because he stated his request so clearly. I will gladly try to make him most anything he asks for. No, I was shocked because I have NEVER IN MY LIFE eaten, much less prepared, Italian wedding soup. And Steve knows this!
Frankly, I have no idea why I’ve never had it before. I’ve certainly heard of it. But this soup was so far off my radar that I had to look it up to find a recipe.
I found a bunch of different recipes. So, I combined what I liked best from all of them and came up with my own. And guess what? I LOVED it! So much so that I decided to share it with you!
Let’s see what goes into making Lori’s version of Italian wedding soup
Why is this soup called Italian wedding soup? I had to look it up. Come on, you guys know me! Gotta figure it out!
Well, I am now informed enough to share that Italian wedding soup is actually Italian-American, the name for which is apparently a loose translation of the Italian minestra maritata, which means “married soup”. According to wiki, it describes the combination, or “marriage”, of a green vegetable and a broth. It is usually served with meatballs, and sometimes sausage.
Don’t let the number of ingredients scare you. Most of them go into making the meatballs, which are quick and easy to assemble. And then you just cook the meatballs in the hot soup! Isn’t that clever? And, pretty tasty.
This soup packs a bunch of flavor, I was pleasantly surprised to discover. After all, it takes no time at all to make! Usually, to get big flavor profiles, one thinks of long stewing times. Nope, not with this soup! I think the meatballs are the heroes here. They are tender, juicy, and so tasty! Of course, the endive is pretty yummy too!
Season the ground beef for the meatballs. Just throw all the ingredients in and mix them together well. I like to use a plastic glove and then mash it with my left hand. That way I know all the seasonings get into every bit of meat, and I leave my right hand to add salt and pepper.
It may be obvious to some people, but someone had to show me a few years back…if you need to taste-test the seasonings for raw ground meats, place a little ball of the seasoned meat on a dessert plate and microwave until cooked. I know, I know…pretty obvious! But I needed to be shown, so I just thought I would pass it along. 🙂
Next, roll the seasoned ground beef into meatballs. Go for a smaller size. Some recipes said “mini” meatballs, but I wanted them a bit bigger. Just don’t make them too large.
Then, set them aside and start the broth mix.
Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent.
Then, add the chicken broth and the white wine. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remember that the meatballs are seasoned, but the pasta will need to cook in some salt and so will the endive. Try to get it “to taste” now, knowing you can always add more at the end.
Once the broth is boiling, add the orzo and then the raw meatballs.
Continue cooking until the broth boils again, then reduce to medium low and simmer until the pasta is fully cooked. About 10 minutes or so. By then, the meatballs will be cooked as well.
Turn off the flame and add the dill and endive once the pasta is cooked.
They just need to sit in the hot liquid until the endive wilts a bit. Don’t boil the endive or it gets mushy. You want to retain that full-bodied endive-iness that is so yummy!
Then serve! Preferably with a nice rustic bread like sourdough or a crunchy ciabatta.
Oh, those meatballs are SO tender! And SO flavorful! And the endives have just enough spine to stay together. This is a REALLY comforting soup. Just ask poor Steve.
My sick guy got some nice, homemade sourdough with his Italian wedding soup. He was oh so happy, and very appreciative.
Don’t tell Steve, but he is a bit of a wimp when he gets sick…
Lucky for him, his Latin wife has a nurturing streak about a mile wide, an adventurous mind for new foods, and a huge desire to feed people.
- FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 1 pound lean ground beef, at least 93%
- ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 large garlic clove, diced
- ⅓ cup Italian or regular bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan and Pecorino Romano mix
- FOR THE SOUP
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 large garlic clove, diced
- 10 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
- ½ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 1 cup orzo
- ¼ cup fresh dill
- 1 full head of endive, cut into 1½ inch lengths
- Mix the meatball ingredients together in a bowl.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Shape into approximately 25 small meatballs, placing them on a sheet pan and setting aside until later.
- Heat a soup pot to medium high.
- Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic.
- Sauté until translucent.
- Add the chicken broth and wine.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add the orzo to the boiling broth.
- Then drop all the raw meatballs gently into the pot.
- Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the orzo is fully cooked. The meatballs will be cooked as well.
- Turn off the burner, add the dill and endive.
- Adjust seasoning to taste.
- When the endive is just slightly wilted, serve hot.