Italian Wedding Soup II
One of the most requested soups on my site--this one is from Abruzzo and features the meatballs traditional to that part of Italy. It's a pretty soup, and very substantial with all those meatballs. The torn escarole floats on the broth, enriched by the meat and molten cheese. Flavorful yet subtle. Something to throw a bouquet about. Serve hot to 6 people. (For nonbridal occasions, it can be a proper meal for 4.)
Garnish: 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the veal, sirloin, egg, bread crumbs, parsley, 1/2 cup grated cheese, salt, and pepper until uniform, but don't overwork. Form into small meatballs (like really big marbles)--about 50 of them--arrange on a baking sheet, and cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. They should still be tender, not too brown. Drain off the fat and let them drain on paper towels.
When ready to serve, bring the stock to a boil in a large pot. Add the torn escarole, cover, and boil for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs, reduce heat, and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for a few minutes, then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup grated cheese. Serve immediately--sprinkling with more cheese, if you like.
Consider this variation:
Maria Iafrate of North Pembroke, Massachusetts, suggests using chicken meatballs, no nutmeg, and homemade chicken stock: chicken balls are made with ground chicken, bread crumbs, eggs, and Romano Cheese. Roll mixture into small (1/2") balls and drop into simmering soup. Add cooked escarole.
"Is this a traditional recipe?" I asked. "Yes," she said, "it is very much a family tradition. My mother always made this soup for
the holidays as a first course. She orginally made it in the Depression
years with chicken necks and backs as her soup stock. Later we changed it
by making the soup stock with whole chicken parts, which makes this soup a
real meal. My family looks forward to this tradition every year for our
first course on Thanksgiving...the credit really goes to my mother. She was a wonderful cook.
She kept certain staple items in the pantry that could always feed a hungry
group a sumptuous spread at a moments notice. Family dinners lasted hours,
from soup to nuts, then espresso and dessert."
* * *
One reader objects--and is objected against:
Imagine my surprise when Kyle Phillips wrote in to say that his marvelous commentary on About.com's Italian Wedding Soup had been pre-empted and shortened by an enthusiastic reader of soupsong. To set things straight, please go to Kyle's full commentary and not be satisfied with the objection that follows:
Italian wedding soup, Tuscans don't serve a specific soup at weddings. I found a
discussion of minestra maritata in Jeannne Caróla Francesconi's La Cucina Napoletana
and realized the dish has nothing to do with the happy day -- wedding soup is a
mistranslation. To say two things go well together in Italian, one can say si
sposono bene (they're well married) -- or, more to the south, that they're maritati,
i.e. married. The combination of greens and meat in a clear broth certainly does
work well and deserves to be called maritata -- no wedding involved.