Italian Wedding Soup

This soup in fact has nothing to do with weddings. In Italian, it is called minestra maritata (married soup) for its harmonious mingling of ingredients, and somewhere along the line the name got mistranslated.

Italian Wedding Soup
This soup in fact has nothing to do with weddings. In Italian, it is called minestra maritata (married soup) for its harmonious mingling of ingredients, and somewhere along the line the name got mistranslated.
Yield: serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 1/2–4-lb.) chicken
  • 2 carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 cups canned whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cup acine de pepe (frog's-eye) or other tiny round pasta
  • 1 bunch escarole, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 12 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly grated romano
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 14 tsp. dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Put chicken, carrots, celery, tomatoes, 14 cups water, and salt to taste into a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a small pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 5–7 minutes. Drain, rinse, and set aside. Put escarole and 2 tbsp. water into a large skillet, cover, cook over medium heat until wilted, 4-5 minutes and set aside. Gently mix ground beef, egg yolk, bread crumbs, cheeses, parsley, garlic, oregano, 12 tsp. salt, and 14 tsp. pepper together in a large bowl, form into 12" meatballs, and set aside.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a large bowl and set aside to let cool. Strain broth through a cheesecloth-lined colander into a clean medium pot, discarding solids. Shred chicken meat and set aside, discarding skin and bones.
  4. Bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until cooked through, 10–15 minutes. Add shredded chicken, escarole, and pasta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes more.