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October 4, 2011

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

Serves 6.


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.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Jean Gogolin | October 4, 2011 at 04:00 PM

Well, I'll be damned. I thought I was a foodie, but I never knew "wedding soup" was a mis-translation. Thanks for enlightening me, Lydia. ;-)

Posted by: Alyce Morgan | October 4, 2011 at 05:59 PM

Nice variation on a theme! Sounds yummy...and I like the idea of the Turkey Italian sausage (which we can get bulk); I make my hamburgers out of it. Happy October!

Posted by: CJMcD | October 4, 2011 at 08:09 PM

One of my favorite soups!

Oh who am I kidding? I love them all! *L*

Posted by: Lydia | October 4, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Jean, I think that is a surprise to a lot of people, especially because versions of this soup are often served at weddings.

Alyce, the turkey sausage along with ground turkey makes really great little meatballs in this recipe.

CJ, I'm giggling.

Posted by: Alyssa (EverydayMaven) | October 4, 2011 at 11:50 PM

This sound perfect for this Fall weather. Do you use breast or thigh for the ground turkey? Definitely making this!!!

Posted by: Lydia | October 5, 2011 at 09:04 AM

Alyssa, I prefer breast and always get the 93% fat-free. But either will work, and if you like the flavor of turkey thigh, go right ahead and use that. It's a great soup and perfect for this transitional time of year (though I have a friend who makes a batch every week, all year round, and eats this soup almost every day).

Posted by: Kalyn | October 5, 2011 at 12:47 PM

I love escarole and Italian sausage so I'm sure I would love this!

Posted by: denisecox | October 5, 2011 at 01:07 PM

Oh, yeah! Just the inspiration I was looking for. I bought a HUGE amount of different greens at the farmer's market, and have some italian sausage that needs using, so am going to make a version of this combined with Anna Thomas' green soup (see article in this edition of Eating Well or check out her new book Love Soup). Thanks!

Posted by: Judy | October 5, 2011 at 01:35 PM

This is the first time I have been attracted to Italian Wedding Soup, and now I can't wait to make it! If you freeze it, do you freeze it after adding the meatballs, or do you need to freeze them separately (so they don't fall apart)? (You can tell I'm a novice at this . . .)

Posted by: Lydia | October 5, 2011 at 03:39 PM

Denise, I love Love Soup (you can see it's listed first in my recommended soup books), and I love Anna Thomas. I think this soup will love any greens you throw into it.

Judy, I freeze the meatballs in the soup (usually I pack the containers so there's a large portion of liquid relative to the volume of meatballs). Because they are browned before they go into the soup, they hold together very well. Be sure to reheat gently.

Posted by: Judy | October 8, 2011 at 07:53 PM

Thanks, Lydia!

Posted by: Easy Italian Recipes | March 7, 2014 at 07:18 AM

Hi! Your Italian wedding soup was nominated as one of the "Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipes on the Net".

Posted by: Brenda Wonton | December 20, 2015 at 03:19 PM

This recipe looks easy enough to do. I have had Italian soup before, but not for many years and my grandma used to make it. I am going to have to try it out myself.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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