Early on in our marriage, I remember watching in awe as my mother-in-law rolled the tiniest meatballs imaginable - no bigger than a dime - and dropped them one at a time into the hot soup. Raw meatballs into hot soup? Yes. Yes indeed. Her recipe likely differed a bit from traditional wedding soup, but it was flavorful and full of so much more than simply ingredients. In each spoonful was a lot of love.
I make variations on wedding soup throughout the year, all possessing the same key ingredients: broth, greens, pasta and teeny tiny meatballs. And the girls even join in on the rolling most of the time. Each time as I stand beside the bubbling pot, allowing meatball after meatball to roll off my palm and into the soup, I cannot help but be reminded of the woman who taught me to make the soup, as well as think about the people for whom the soup is being prepared. I have made this soup for friends with new babies as well as friends going through chemo, neighbors recovering from surgery and of course for my own family. With its flexible list of ingredients, this soup is a home run every time.
- Sauté ½ cup diced onion + a few cloves of minced garlic in 2 Tbsp of olive oil for a few minutes until soft. (This is a great time to throw in extra vegetables; for example, I added carrot matchsticks this time because they were in the fridge. Diced tomatoes are great too. Look at this as an opportunity to broaden the flavor profile by sneaking in an extra serving or two while cleaning out the veggie drawer.)
- Pour in chicken stock (about 96oz) and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for ½ hour or so.
- Meanwhile, make your meatball mix using 1½-2 lbs of ground chuck or ground turkey/chicken mixed with an egg, a splash of worcestershire sauce, a four-finger pinch of coarse black pepper and 1 cup each of breadcrumbs + grated romano cheese. Roll tiny meatballs in the palms of your hands and drop them into the soup. Give it a stir every so often.
- Now wash up + fix a little ramekin to taste. (see below) Cook's treat!
- Add 1 cup of tiny pasta, such as acini de pepe and allow it to cook while the soup gently boils, less than 10 minutes.
- Cut 1-2 heads of escarole (or spinach or kale or chard) into thin ribbons and drop into the soup. Stir until the greens are just barely wilted.
- Serve + enjoy with freshly grated romano on top and a slice of bread.
*If you are making this to package up and give to someone, prepare the pasta separately and store it in a 2nd container with a note that it is to be added when reheating the soup. (Otherwise the pasta will take over and absorb all the liquid, which sort of defeats the purpose of it being soup.) Also, remember to include a loaf of good crusty bread. You'll be friends forever. xoxo