Seeing as I am a sucker for anything with the word “wedding” in it, be it an excuse to smash cake in someone’s face, bake cookies or in this case, put meatballs in soup. Of course, traditional Italian Wedding Soup (also known as Minestra Maritata or Pignato Grasso) is said to have little to do with happily ever afters, but the marriage between meat and vegetables in a soup. Associated with southern Italy, but more often parts of the Northeast, most recipes today have pork, a leafy green and some form of pasta in it, typically tiny ancini de pepe confetti. This soup is a quick riff on that, with turkey meatballs so good, I’d encourage you to make extra to serve with a future spaghetti dinner, escarole (though unable to find it, I used swiss chard), orzo and carrots in chicken stock.
I’ve been pretty slackish about making dinner lately, but this was one of those things that go me over it, albeit briefly, as it could be done in a reasonable amount of time on a weekday evening. Or a snowy night, tucked in with a good movie and some dreamy chocolate pudding.
Greens, Orzo and Meatball Soup
2018 Update: Over the years, this has become a winter staple, a kid-friendly (meatballs, pasta, cheese, nothing not to love) but also fairly quick (the meatballs are the only real work) meal for weeknights. Originally written for escarole as the greens, while it works here, more often than not we use baby spinach, kale or Swiss chard greens instead; I’ve updated the title to note this. If you’ve got time, of course, it’s even more amazing with a homemade chicken or parmesan broth (or, even better, a chicken broth cooked with a couple parmesan rinds) but the meatballs do most of the heavy lifting here. We always serve it with extra parmesan on top. In 2018, the soup got some much-needed fresh photos as well.
It always occurs to me after the fact when I make this that if using a more tender green (baby spinach or chard), a few leaves could be well-chopped to replace the 2 tablespoons parsley in the meatballs, should you not already have parsley around.
This make 4 main-course servings, although with kids, we find it feeds 6.
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 12 ounces ground turkey
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
- 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
- 3/4 cup (about 4.75 ounces or 135 grams) orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
- 4 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1/2 medium head), swiss chard, kale or baby spinach (about 3 ounces of leaves)
Assemble the soup:: Bring chicken broth to a boil in large (4 to 5-quart) pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes. Add turkey meatballs and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in chopped greens and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo, and escarole are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls and serve.
Do ahead: This be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm over medium heat, thinning with more broth if needed or desired. Leftovers go over well in thermoses for lunch the next day.