Just as ancient tales are easily bungled by funky translations (like Charles Perrault’s original story Cinderella, with confusion over a slipper of glass [verre], squirrel fur [vair] or even iron [fer]…a hot mess that Cinderella was), so too do recipes often have translation mix ups. Although Italian Wedding Soup, a popular dish in this country, hints at origins surrounding Tuscan weddings, the actual name of the soup is minestra mariata or “married soup” – a reference to the melange of greens, broth, meat and cheese. An apropos name, given that all of the flavors in this soup blend together into something akin to a warm hug. I’m all about that marriage, if I do say so myself.
Traditional versions of the soup involve a slow simmering stock that can include soup bones (prosciutto to be super authentic) and a variety of greens and broccoli. I love this soup with pastina, or little pasta pearls that puff up in the broth, but this version, as inspired by the cracked-out craziness of the Canadian show “Bitchin’ Kitchen” uses cheese tortellini. If you don’t have tortellini, you can swap it out for ditalini (short pasta tubes) or any mini pasta you’d like. You call the shots – this is your wedding and I don’t want you getting all bridezilla on me.
Italian Wedding Soup
1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef
1 lb. of pork
1 small hoagie roll
1/2 c. of parsley leaves
1/4 c. of parmesan
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
1 clove of garlic, very finely minced
pinch of oregano
8 c. of chicken stock
cheese tortellini or ditalini
In a food processor, grind up the hoagie roll, parsley leaves and garlic. Toss into a standing mixer or mixing bowl and blend with the beef, pork, egg, parmasean, salt, pepper and oregano. Roll into very small meatballs, about 1/2 of a tablespoon of filling at a time. Set aside.
In a pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the meatballs and let simmer away in the soup for at least 20 minutes. Grab another pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and chuck in the cheese tortellini or ditalini pasta, cooking according to the package directions. Drain.
To assemble the bowl of soup, add a handful of baby spinach and 1/2 c. of pasta to a large soup bowl. Ladel over the broth and meatballs, top with some cracked pepper and parmasean cheese.