Weekend Italian Wedding Soup

January 25, 2023
4 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This Italian Wedding Soup is packed with iron-rich spinach, lots of fresh herbs, and homemade chicken stock. The chicken, cooked in aromatics, is then added to the final dish, along with tender, spicy pork meatballs for a hearty wintry meal. —Rick Martinez

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Weekend Italian Wedding Soup
  • Stock
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 4 large carrots, divided
  • 6 large stalks celery, divided
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 2 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Meatballs
  • 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated, separated
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 ½ pounds ground pork
  • Soup
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for hands
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup dry ditalini
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated, separated
  • 1 bunch mature spinach, torn into 2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  1. Cut one half of the onion in half, you should have 2 large wedges; transfer to a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Cut 2 carrots and 3 celery stalks in half crosswise and transfer to pot with onion. Add whole garlic, chicken breasts, bay leaves, peppercorn, thyme, oregano, 6 cups water, and chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil, cover and reduce to low, and cook until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool; shred chicken, discard the skin and bones and set aside until ready to use. Continue to simmer stock covered until the vegetables are tender, 15 minutes more. Strain stock and set aside until ready to use; discard solids and wipe pot clean.
  2. Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Whisk the panko, parmesan, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Stir in the cream, half of grated garlic, and egg until completely combined.
  3. Transfer the pork to a large bowl. Pull the ground pork apart with two forks as if you were shredding pulled pork, breaking up the clumps without compacting until very loose. Pour the cream mixture into the meat and use the same pulling technique to mix until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Scoop out portions of the meat mixture with a 1 ounce ice cream scoop or use two heaping tablespoons of meat mixture. Lightly oil your hands and roll the meat gently between your hands into balls. Arrange the balls on a rimmed baking sheet. You should have about 24. Cover and chill until ready to use.
  4. Cut remaining onion, carrot and celery into ½ inch pieces and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same large pot over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning and rolling occasionally, until they are lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total; remove to a plate. The meatballs will not be cooked through, just browned on the outside. Repeat with the remaining meatballs; remove them to the plate as well.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and remaining grated garlic; season with 1 tablespoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up the browned bits, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until it's almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add reserved stock and bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer until vegetables are just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Add meatballs and pasta and cook until cooked through, 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and reserved chicken and continue cooking until spinach is wilted and tender, 5 minutes; season with salt. Serve topped with parsley, grated parmesan, freshly ground black pepper, and olive oil.

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Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

1 Review

Dominika U. February 7, 2023
The soup is good, but holy cow - this was a lot of work. I enjoy a complicated, involved recipe every once in a while... But soup shouldn't be this much work. The meatballs were tender, but they stuck badly to the pan during the browning step. And since they were so tender (but totally stuck to the pan, even once properly browned) they broke apart when I tried to turn them. I ended up using a second pan (nonstick this time) for the second-half of the meatballs, which worked much better than browning them in the Dutch oven. In the end, I might not even brown them at all... I know the browning is for flavor, but I actually think they'd be just as delicious poached in the broth alone (unless they fell apart... Keep the broth barely simmering).

Finished with parsley & parm, and a squeeze of lemon. The soup was rich and well-seasoned. It makes an enormous pot of soup, and a TON of dishes to make it. Tasty, but I just don't remember my mom having to do so many separate things when she makes her version.