You'll Always Say 'I Do' to Italian Wedding Soup
2024/02/08

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Italian wedding soup sounds fancy, but it's really old-school : Italian peasants would throw a bunch of humble ingredients into the pot for an easy, satisfying meal. Luckily, the result was beyond delicious! This carries on the tradition with homemade , a rich broth, and pasta or couscous. The meatballs roast separately and are fantastic on their own, in this soup, or added to classic . They can also be mixed, shaped, and roasted a day ahead and refrigerated. Serve each bowl of soup with a hunk of and you've got yourself a delicious meal. Add this recipe to your list of favorite !

Why is it called Italian wedding soup?

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Despite the name, this soup has nothing to do with weddings in Italy. Italians call it "minestra maritata" or marriage soup, because of the delicious marriage of different ingredients: vegetables, meat, and pasta. It eventually became known as Italian wedding soup.

What are the meatballs made of in Italian wedding soup?

The meatballs may just be the best part of this soup! They're made with a 50/50 mixture of ground beef and mild Italian sausage. Love spice? Feel free to use hot Italian sausage. You'll also find standard meatball ingredients such as egg, panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper, on top of flavorful additions like garlic, parmesan, and chopped parsely.

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What pasta is best for Italian wedding soup?

Pearl couscous is perfect for this recipe because it's small and allows you to get some in every bite! If you can't find pearl couscous, though, any sort of short pasta will work. Think mini shells, , or ditalini. If you're using couscous, making sure it is pearl is important. Regular couscous will not work as it will absorb too much liquid.

What is pearl couscous?

This looks like little pearls, which is how it gets its name. It's also commonly called Israeli couscous. Pearl couscous is more like a pasta than a grain; it's best boiled and drained or simmered in broth like this recipe.

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What's the difference between broth and stock?

Broth is made from meat and vegetables while stock is made from bones. Broth is best when you need several cups for a soup; it has a lighter color and milder flavor that won't overpower the other ingredients.  

1/2 lb.

lean ground beef

1/2 lb.

mild Italian sausage

1/2 c.

grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1/4 c.

chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving

1

large egg

1

garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 c.

panko breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp.

kosher salt 

1/2 tsp.

ground black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

1 tbsp.

olive oil

1 c.

chopped carrots 

1 c.

chopped yellow onion

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1 c.

chopped celery

3

garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp.

kosher salt

1 tsp.

ground black pepper, plus more for serving

6 c.

chicken broth

14 oz.

can beef broth

1 c.

pearl couscous or small pasta

5 oz.

baby spinach

2 tbsp.

fresh lemon juice

Step  1 For the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 450ºF with the oven rack in the upper third of oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Step  2 In a medium bowl, mix together the beef, sausage, parmesan, parsley, egg, garlic, panko, salt, and pepper until well combined. Form the mixture into about 40 (1/2-inch wide) meatballs. Lightly spray the foil-lined baking sheet with nonstick spray and arrange the meatballs in a single layer.

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Step  3 Bake the meatballs until they are firm to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes. Increase the heat to broil. Broil the meatballs until browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside. Step  4 For the soup: In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery, and cook until the vegetables start to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Step  5 Gradually stir in the salt, pepper, chicken broth, and beef broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and add the couscous. Cover and cook 8 minutes or until the couscous is just tender.  Step  6 Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, 1 minute. Stir in the meatballs and cook until the meatballs are warmed throughout, 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Step  7 Serve the soup in bowls, and top with additional parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and black pepper.

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