Italian Wedding Soup

This recipe actually doesn’t have anything to do with a bride and groom. Despite the folklore about it being served at weddings to give the bride and groom energy for the evening, it was actually a peasant soup made with the meat and leafy greens that were available. When the dish came to America and became reinterpreted, the meatballs and other vegetables got added. This dish is one of my favorites and one that is most requested by my friends and family. I love to serve it with crusty homemade bread and butter. If you wish to freeze the leftovers, it freezes well.

Italian Wedding Soup… my way …

Posted by Chef John O'Neil on Sunday, April 5, 2020

Meatballs – Ingredients

1 ½ cups good bread (Italian, French, brioche), cut into 1/2” cubes

1 cup whole milk

1 pound Italian sausage

1 pound lean ground beef

½ cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese

½ small red onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, crushed finely minced

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram (sweeter, more mild flavor) or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (strong, a little goes a long way), finely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 egg yolk

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Soak bread cubes in milk for 15 minutes. Combine all ingredients except cooking oil in mixing bowl and mix until just combined. If you don’t have a mixer that can mix this, you can combine with your hands, kneading the mixture until combined. Don’t overmix or the meatballs will be tough. Small meatballs are preferred for this recipe. Use a #60 scoop to form meatballs. In a deep pot, heat oil to 325 degrees (measured with a candy thermometer). Place about 10-12 meatballs at a time in the oil. Fry until the meatballs are golden brown. Scoop them out away from you so you don’t splash yourself with hot oil. The meatballs will finish cooking in the soup, so what you are looking for is the color and crunch on the meatballs. The larger the meatball, the longer it will have to cook.

Use 40-50 meatballs in the soup recipe. If you have extra, you can make them and freeze them for use in another dish later.

Soup – Ingredients

½ cup bread crumbs

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 large carrots, small diced

3 ribs celery, small diced

2 medium onions, small diced

1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, thick sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed finely minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

4 leaves fresh sage, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 can 28-ounce crushed fire roasted tomatoes

2 tablespoons beef demi-glace

2 quarts beef bone broth

3 quarts beef stock

1 inch square parmesan rind

3 tablespoons salt

2 cups dry pearl couscous

40-50 meatballs (recipe above)

1 large or 2 small zucchini, small diced

1 medium yellow squash, small diced

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and cheese and set aside for garnish.

Heat 8-quart dutch oven or soup pot and add oil. Add carrots, celery, and onions, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Then add garlic, chopped herbs, and black pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with heat on medium high. Add tomatoes, demi-glace and cook for 5 minutes until reduced by half. Add bone broth, stock, and parmesan rind. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Add half the salt. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Taste the broth. You want it a little salty to taste so the broth will flavor the couscous, so you may want to add the remainder of the salt. Add meatballs and vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes. Add salt if it needs it at this point. As it cooks, the fat will rise to the top. Use paper towels to lightly skim the fat off the top of the soup. Serve in bowl and lightly sprinkle bread crumb and cheese mixture over the top.

Brands I use in this recipe:

Texana Brands Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Herbs from my home garden

Dried herbs ordered in bulk from Mount Hope Foods

Muir Glen canned tomatoes

More Than Gourmet demi-glace

Bare Bones Bone Broth

Rice Select Pearl CousCous

Kitchen Aid mixer

Le Creuset goose pot

Henkel knives

Fifth & Cherry cutting board

Written by Chef John O'Neil