Recipe: Simmer small meatballs, small pasta and greens for a hearty Italian wedding soup

For 4 people

Italian wedding soup has nothing to do with Italian weddings. The real name is minestra maritata (“wedding soup”) because leftover meat and wild greens, as the pot was originally made, went so well together. Soup is an ancient Neapolitan specialty, but versions have been made of it since ancient times, when cooks collected wild greens along the countryside and simmered them with a meaty bone in plenty of liquid. A modern wedding soup can be made with pork and beef meatballs and all sorts of hearty greens, including escarole or cabbage. This lighter version is made with turkey meatballs and baby spinach or kale. Find small pastas such as orzo (rice-like grains), ditalini (small tubes), acini de pepe (tiny rounds), farfallines (small bow ties) and use your own homemade broth if you have it on hand. Meatballs are simmered briefly in a pot of water, removed with a slotted spoon, and pasta is cooked in the same water. Use this pot – no need to mess up another one – to heat the chicken broth with the pasta and meatballs, then the greens. Sprinkle bowls with grated parmesan for a nutritious, filling and enjoyable meal.

2 slices firm white toast (with crusts) or 1 soft bun, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup of milk
1 Egg
1 ground dark meat turkey pound
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ cup of tiny pasta, such as orzo (rice-like grains), ditalini (small tubes), acini de pepe (small rounds), farfalline (small bow ties)
2 quarters of chicken broth
3 cups packed spinach or kale
Extra freshly grated Parmesan (to serve)

1. In a large bowl (this will hold all the meatball ingredients later), combine the bread or roll and the milk. Work with your hands to crush the cubes and make a paste. Let stand 5 minutes.

2. Add egg, turkey, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup Parmesan. With your hands, work the mixture until well blended.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a bowl of cold water handy. Dip your hands into the bowl of water. Use a spoon to scoop out small mounds of the meatball mixture and shape with your hands into 1-inch balls. Place them on the baking sheet. Continue shaping the meatball mixture until all is used up. You should have about 36.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a spoon to add half of the meatballs a few at a time. Return the water to a boil and simmer the meatballs for 4 minutes or until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the pot and transfer them to a large plate. Return the water to a boil. Cook the remaining meatballs the same way, removing them from the pan when cooked.

5. Return the water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring once or twice, for 6 minutes or until pasta is almost tender. Drain the pasta in a colander and return it to the pot. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add meatballs and cook for 3 minutes or until heated through.

6. Add the spinach or kale and lower into the liquid with the back of a ladle. Cook for 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with parmesan and crusty bread.

Sheryl Julien

For 4 people

Italian wedding soup has nothing to do with Italian weddings. The real name is minestra maritata (“wedding soup”) because leftover meat and wild greens, as the pot was originally made, went so well together. Soup is an ancient Neapolitan specialty, but versions have been made of it since ancient times, when cooks collected wild greens along the countryside and simmered them with a meaty bone in plenty of liquid. A modern wedding soup can be made with pork and beef meatballs and all sorts of hearty greens, including escarole or cabbage. This lighter version is made with turkey meatballs and baby spinach or kale. Find small pastas such as orzo (rice-like grains), ditalini (small tubes), acini de pepe (tiny rounds), farfallines (small bow ties) and use your own homemade broth if you have it on hand. Meatballs are simmered briefly in a pot of water, removed with a slotted spoon, and pasta is cooked in the same water. Use this pot – no need to mess up another one – to heat the chicken broth with the pasta and meatballs, then the greens. Sprinkle bowls with grated parmesan for a nutritious, filling and enjoyable meal.

2 slices firm white toast (with crusts) or 1 soft bun, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup of milk
1 Egg
1 ground dark meat turkey pound
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ cup of tiny pasta, such as orzo (rice-like grains), ditalini (small tubes), acini de pepe (small rounds), farfalline (small bow ties)
2 quarters of chicken broth
3 cups packed spinach or kale
Extra freshly grated Parmesan (to serve)

1. In a large bowl (this will hold all the meatball ingredients later), combine the bread or roll and the milk. Work with your hands to crush the cubes and make a paste. Let stand 5 minutes.

2. Add egg, turkey, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup Parmesan. With your hands, work the mixture until well blended.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a bowl of cold water handy. Dip your hands into the bowl of water. Use a spoon to scoop out small mounds of the meatball mixture and shape with your hands into 1-inch balls. Place them on the baking sheet. Continue shaping the meatball mixture until all is used up. You should have about 36.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a spoon to add half of the meatballs a few at a time. Return the water to a boil and simmer the meatballs for 4 minutes or until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the pot and transfer them to a large plate. Return the water to a boil. Cook the remaining meatballs the same way, removing them from the pan when cooked.

5. Return the water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring once or twice, for 6 minutes or until pasta is almost tender. Drain the pasta in a colander and return it to the pot. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add meatballs and cook for 3 minutes or until heated through.

6. Add the spinach or kale and lower into the liquid with the back of a ladle. Cook for 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with parmesan and crusty bread.Sheryl Julien