Italian wedding soup recipe
Not being Italian, I never tasted Italian wedding soup until I moved to Rhode Island, the most Italian state (by percentage of population) of any in the United States. The soup is not, as many assume, named for its popularity at Italian weddings. It's a mistranslation of the Italian name, ministra maritata. Maritata means "marriage", and refers to the union of vegetables and meat in the soup. Every cook has his or her own version of wedding soup. Some variations contain pasta or egg ribbons, but I'm not Italian, so I make it without pasta, and with larger-than-traditional meatballs, the size of walnuts in the shell. You can substitute kale for escarole, and beef or pork for the ground turkey. Italian wedding soup, the ultimate comfort food, freezes well, so make a batch while you feel great, and keep some in the freezer for a day when you have the blahs.
Italian wedding soup
For the meatballs:
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage (not pre-cooked), removed from the casings
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp minced flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
For the soup:
6 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium store-bought)
1 small onion, diced
1 head escarole, chopped into bite-size pieces
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, turkey sausage, cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, egg, salt and pepper. With your hands, mix everything until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Form the mixture into meatballs the size of large walnuts, and place on a plate.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over low-medium heat. Lightly brown the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the onions and escarole, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the escarole collapses. Add the red pepper flakes.
Reduce heat to simmer, and gently add the meatballs to the pot. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 5 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed (if you are using store-bought stock, you might not need any salt).
Serve hot, or let cool completely and refrigerate or freeze.