Search My Blog!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

When we lived in Pittsburgh, Ron and I would spent most of our Saturday mornings "dahn" in the Strip District.  Heading to the Strip was the equivalent of heading to a Farmer's Market here in Minnesota (something indoors, similar to Midtown Global Market, but the shops on the Strip are all separated thus requiring you to venture out into the cold and past the street vendors selling various things, namely Steelers t-shirts, falafels, etc.).  There were a few shops that I would always hit up: the Enrico Biscotti company (world famous amazing biscotti), Prestogeorge (coffee shop), PennMac, Mancini's Bread (for amazing pepperoni rolls) and Wholey's fish market.  Sometimes, we would head to Sunseri's, or the infamous Pamela's (President Obama ate here!) or Primanti Brothers (a Pittsburgh tradition!), depending on the time we arrived.  Sometimes, we would also check out Fudgie Wudgie or Mon Aimee Chocolat. (Who am I kidding? We stopped here every time.)

Stops would vary each week, but one thing never changed.  We would always, ALWAYS, go to Cafe on the Strip for lunch.  While there, we would get a crock of wedding soup.  ALWAYS.  I am convinced - and I have tried many recipes - that there will never, ever be a wedding soup recipe that could compare to the Cafe's.  The Cafe is this tiny little place with a small little menu and a very quaint feel.  Italian music is always playing, the service may or may not be great (think angry Italian family running the shop), but the food is always, ALWAYS excellent.

The other night we were out with friends and we started talking about wedding soup.  I was surprised to learn that wedding soup isn't very popular beyond the east coast.  I'm not sure why this is, but I decided to do some research about the soup in general.  According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, "the term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian language, minestra maritata ("married soup"), which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together." Oddly enough, it is not called wedding soup because it is served at weddings.  Embarrassing!  I have thought this for many, many years of my life. In any event, this soup is pretty decent.  Is it at good as the Cafe's?  No.  But, I must admit that I am biased.  If you have never been to the Cafe, then this soup is delicious! :) It is a bit labor-intensive. I recruited Ron to assist with the meatballs. He flipped out about halfway through making them but thankfully he now he understands, and appreciates, why I don't make this soup often!
Italian Wedding Soup
adapted from
Yield: 12 servings!
  • 60+ ounces chicken broth
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 lb meat (use ground beef, pork, turkey, sausage or combination)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 c - 3/4 c dry italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, if desired
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cooked (cut into chunks or shredded)
  • 3 ounces dry pasta (such as acine de peppe)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the chicken broth, spinach, onions, carrots and celery.  Mix well and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate large bowl, combine meat, parsley, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, salt, and parmesan, if using.  Mix well.  Form mixture into 1/2 inch diameter meatballs and carefully drop them into the soup.  (You can also choose to brown meatballs in the oven before putting them in the soup.)
  3. Reduce heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour.  (You may cook chicken breasts during this time.)
  4. Add the pasta 30 minutes before serving.  About 15 minutes before serving, add cooked chicken.  Add more chicken broth, if desired.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with some hearty italian bread.


  1. Chris and I made this soup yesterday, as it seemed the only natural thing to do on a Green Bay Packer-filled autumn afternoon. :-) It was truly scrumptious! We baked a couple chicken breasts and cut them up, which was fine, but I think next time (oh, and there will be a next time) we'll get a rotisserie chicken from the store to tear up into pieces and drop in. Bonus: even after stuffing our faces, there was so much left over that we could both bring a Tupperware for lunch AND freeze a good portion for later this fall!

  2. Erin, I'm so glad you made it and enjoyed! The recipe makes a ton! Also, thank you for posting because you reminded me that I've been craving this and need to make it pronto!