The name “wedding soup” has absolutely nothing to do with serving this at a wedding. The phrase minestra maritata – or wedding soup – refers to the way the flavors combine, like in a happy marriage. (LOL….. we all know it is hard work and not always perfect, but luckily for us, many have tried and tested this recipe before!)
It must be a winter “thing” because I crave food that brings me warmth and comfort during the winter months in Norway. It is my first attempt making this soup and I would say that it is all about the fresh herb flavours in the little meatballs. There is a bit more work involved with having to make meatballs as well, but it is so worth it!
- For the meatballs
- 225g beef mince, lean
- 225g pork mince (you can also use the sausage meat of sweet or hot Italian sausages, just remove the meat from the casing)
- ½ cup bread crumbs, freshly grated
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp sage, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp chives, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano or 2 tsp fresh oregano chopped finely
- ½ cup parmesan grated
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- For the soup
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leave
- ½ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 2lt low-sodium chicken stock (if you want a more intense broth, use half chicken, half beef broth/stock)
- 1 cup dry acini de pepe, orzo or ditalini pasta
- 170g spinach fresh, stems trimmed and roughly chopped
- Salt and white pepper for seasoning
- Grated parmesan, for serving
- For the meatballs:
- Heat the oven to 180°C. (*)
- Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and place a roasting rack on top. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add beef and pork to a large mixing bowl. Add in breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, chives, sage, Parmesan, egg, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix well and shape into tablespoon-size meatballs and place onto the prepared rack.
- Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly golden. At this stage it does not need to be cooked through as it will cook further in the soup broth.
- For the soup:
- While meatballs are baking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add carrots, onions and celery and sauté until softened.
- Add the garlic and bay leave. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Pour in chicken stock and wine (optional), season soup with salt and white pepper to taste and bring mixture to a boil. Add in pasta and meatballs; reduce heat to a light boil.
- Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender and meatballs have cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Add spinach during the last minute of cooking.
- Serve warm with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Many of the Italian recipes do not require colouring on the meatballs but I find that caramilizing them slightly before adding them to the soup definitely adds to the flavour. (*) If you don’t want to use the oven, you can fry the meatballs in a heavy based non-stick skillet until golden brown. I would recommend 2 batches and drain them on towel paper until needed.