Italian-Wedding Soup with Tortellini
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Italian-wedding is hands down my favorite soup. Based on some research I did today, it was, in fact, served at weddings to provide 'energy' to the bride and groom due to its high nutrient content. However, the name was intended to imply the 'marriage' of the ingredients, not that it is a soup for weddings. Originally a peasant dish made with heavy vegetables and small amounts of meat, the Americanized version includes tiny meatballs, escarole, and a small pasta or rice. I fancied this one up and added tortellini and veal meatballs, making it a bit of a special version you can eat around the holidays.
On the note of 'marrying' the ingredients - after you make this soup, it needs to rest. The oils and flavors from the meatballs and escarole need to meld into the broth. I suggest you rest the soup for at least an hour, but preferably all day. If you want to make this, make it in the morning and let it sit on your stove (and get married).
1 Lb Veal or Pork/Veal/Beef Chopped Meat
1 to 1.5 C pecorino cheese (eyeball it....)
3/4 C breadcrumbs
Garlic Powder, Parsley, Basil, Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt
2 Eggs, whisked
2 Cartons Chicken or Beef Stock. Originally made with beef, I used chicken. Up to you.
2 C Water
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 large carrots, sliced
1 C chopped celery (maybe 2-3 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Heads of Escarole, cleaned and chopped into squares. *If you want to add chard, spinach, bok choy, or kale, feel free! I only had bought escarole.
Olive oil for garnish
Tortellini (or dittalini, or pearl couscous) to add to soup.
Combine the first 5 ingredients to form your meatball 'dough'. Chill for 10 min, then combine into the smallest size ball you can. A good trick is to put the meat into a ziplock bag and cut off the tip (yes like frosting), then use a kitchen scissor to break off small bits of meat. Wet your hands and shape into small little balls.
Fry the meatballs in a large Dutch oven or soup pot in vegetable or canola oil until seared on all sides, remove from pan and put to side. Be careful not to overcook them since they are so small, when they come loose, flip and only cook on 2-3 sides. If you don’t have a soup pot wide enough, use a frying pan.
Use the same pot or add some of the oil (1/4 C) from the meatball frying pan to a large soup pot, add a few more drizzles of new olive oil.
Add carrots and celery and cook for 2 min.
Add onion and cook for 2 more min.
Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Don't skimp on seasonings. Cook for 2 min until everything is fragrant.
Add your stock and water.
Let the soup mixture come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
When simmering SLOWLY, add the meatballs. Let simmer for 15 min.
Add the escarole and let simmer meld. Make sure to mix around so submerged.
Turn the soup off and let it rest for at least an hour (hopefully more!) THIS MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE. If you eat the soup now, it will have less flavor. The meatballs and escarole need to 'marry' into the broth.
When ready to eat, re-heat the broth.
When ready to eat, boil your pasta of choice. Clearly I made with tortellini, but if that's too heavy for you, use something else (traditionally served with dittalini or pearl couscous). UNDERCOOK THE PASTA.
Add pasta to your bowl of warm soup and garnish with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.