An ode to Italian wedding soup

Italian Wedding Soup + Hilary, Hilary + Italian Wedding Soup. It’s a loving equation like none other. This is my all-time favourite soup.

Like any significant relationship, we have a lengthy history, our ups and downs. But considering we’ve been in love for more than half a decade, I’d say our commitment to each other is something phenomenal.

We first met when I was so young, at East Side Mario’s, one of those restaurant chains that northern Ontario family’s such as my own relied upon for a decent meal out. I’m not sure how we were introduced – maybe it was my mother, always trying to set me up with vegetables, trying to get me to go on just one date with that nice spinach boy. I finally complied with her wishes. It was love at first taste. My soup was dressed in a clean white bowl, its top speckled with a blend of pepper and a load of Parmesan cheese. I was hooked.

As time went on, Italian wedding soup was always with me. It accompanied through my band camp days (three years, fyi), where the cook (conveniently my best friend’s mom), would always sneak me extra meatballs.

Things got shaky when I returned to East Side Mario’s, only to discover that the soup wasn’t how I remembered it. We had grown apart, and it had changed. There was less of it now, less warming love to sooth my hungry heart. We broke up temporarily.

My love was rekindled when my mom started making her own version of the soup. It was simple and fulfilling, everything that a good relationship should be. We started up again, and I haven’t looked back since. Now, this Italian wedding soup is what gets me through the winter. We spend full days together: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Sometimes he even stays over for a midnight snack. What would I do without you, Italian wedding soup?

Alright, I’m done.

Are you creeped out yet? I’m sorry. I just really, really like this soup. It only takes about half an hour to make, and the result is a giant pot of liquid gold that will get you through the next half week. Guests will be pleased, however I recommend that you keep this one all to yourself. If you must share, I enjoy packing it up in Mason jars and giving to your friends as a surprise, middle-of-class lunch.

PS: add freshly grated Parmesan cheese, please. It’s a beautiful threesome.

Recipe: Italian wedding soup
Adapted from the Duff Family cookbook
– 1/2 lb (225 grams) medium ground beef (make sure it’s medium – this means the meatballs will stick together better
– 5 1/2 tbsp bread crumbs
1 egg white
– 1/2 tbsp onion, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp pepper
 1 tsp Knorr chicken Bovril (this is a liquid, normally found in the soup stock section. It has a yellow cap)
– 8 cups water
5 tbsp Knorr chicken Bovril
1/2 cup uncooked, very small pasta (my mom uses Unico Acini de pepe pasta, which are like small spherical pasta balls that look like barley. I use tubettini pasta because it was the smallest stuff I could find)
1 package frozen, chopped spinach (buy in the frozen vegetable section)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium-sized bowl, use your hands or a wooden spoon to combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, egg white, onion (if using), pepper, and 1 tsp of the Knorr chicken Bovril. Make sure everything is well mixed and is of a good consistency. Form the ground beef mixture into tiny, adorable meatballs, rounding them off with the palm of your hands. I know it’s kind of gross, but sacrifices must be made for love.

Meanwhile, pour the eight cups of water into a large stock pot. Add the 5 tbsp of the Knorr chicken bovril and mix well. Bring the liquid to a boil.

Once boiling, add the block of frozen spinach, poking and prodding it about with your wooden spoon until it breaks down into its chopped form. This might take a few minutes.

After the spinach is no longer a brick of green, add the meatballs, plopping them in carefully to prevent soupy splashes. Let them bob about in the broth and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Add the small pasta and let cook for another 12 minutes, until tender. Reduce heat to simmer. Let soup cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Serve with a generous helping of Parmesan cheese and enjoy your love affair.

Makes about 8 large bowls.


3 thoughts on “An ode to Italian wedding soup

  1. Looks beautiful, Hilary.

    It’s an easy obsession to have, and the name “Minestra Maritata” (married soup) likely refers to the union of meat and veg in a bowl. A delicious union indeed.

    Thank you for the recipe!

  2. I can’t believe you’re sharing your love with the inter-webs. Aren’t you afraid IWS will find someone else? You’re treading dangerous ground H-Duff, playing with fire some might say. The classic fool move: trust. I’m tempted to call you Dumbledore.

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