Italian Wedding Soup is easily one of Rob’s favorites. He isn’t a big soup person and often says that he doesn’t always view soup as a meal by itself. That said, when he wasn’t feeling great the other day, he happily agreed to a big bowl of Italian Wedding.
So, Italian Wedding is a generally pretty simple soup. It’s some pasta, meatballs, and a leafy green (traditionally escarole) in broth. Now that said, Rob is very particular about his Italian Wedding Soup. He has a pretty long list of do’s and don’ts. It covers almost every aspect of the soup, from the pasta to the meatballs.
First off is the pasta criteria. Many, if not most, canned Italian Weddings come with those short tube pastas. Rob views this as plain wrong. He insists that it needs to be the small pearl/ball pasta, called Acini de Pepe. Its a little specialty and honestly a bit hard to find, which is why we have 2-3 boxes in our pantry just to make this soup with. Also, cook the pasta separate and then add it to the soup.
Next are the meatballs. The size and meat here are key. You want them on the smaller size to make them 1 or 2 bite at most. This also lets you pack a bunch in! As for the meat, you want to go lighter; a chicken sausage or ground veal base are your best options.
Last are the veggies. For the leafy green, Rob has no problem with spinach as a substitute since escarole is not always available. Where he finds the can stuff off is the addition of carrot. Needless to say, he is not a fan. He prefers his with a base of finely diced onion, fennel, and garlic which really flavors the broth.
We used some homemade stock for the broth which was absolutely perfect. The proportions were about 28-30 oz stock to 2/3 Lb pasta with about 18 one inch diameter meatballs. This led to a good hearty soup that didn’t favor any one ingredient.
Italian Wedding Soup
- 2/3 Lb Acini De Pepe Pasta
- 30 Oz Chicken Stock
- 1 Fennel Bulb finely diced
- 1/2 Yellow Onion finely diced
- 3 Garlic Cloves finely diced
- 2 Cups Spinach roughly chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
18 Meatballs, 1 Inch diameter (frozen or homemade)
- 3/4 Lb Chicken Italian Sausage
- 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs
- 1 Egg
- 1/4 Yellow Onion finely diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves finely diced
If Using Store Bought Broth
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 Sprigs Thyme
- 1/4 Tsp Oregano
- If using homemade meatballs, pan fry in a little bit of oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side to form a crust.
- Start the pasta water to boil around the same time as you start the soup base.
- In a dutch oven or similar deep pot, heat a little olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and fennel, cook for about 4 minutes and the veggies are softened.
- Add the garlic, cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add in the spinach, allow to wilt for 1 minute.
- Add the stock (and herbs for store-bought). Bring to a light simmer, reduce heat and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the meatballs about half way through the cook time.
- Cook the pasta per package instructions in salted water.
- Add the pasta to the soup at the end and serve.