Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

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When most people think of Italian Wedding Soup, they understandably associate it with weddings.  Sounds logical, right?  Well, what if I told you that this popular Italian dish has nothing to do with weddings at all?  Yes, it’s true.  Before you scoff, let me explain.

The Italian name for this soup is Minestra Maritata, which literally translates into “married soup” in English. Therein lies the confusion.  Somewhere along the way, the incorrect assumption was made that this soup was created to be served at wedding feasts.  In fact, “married soup” actually refers to the harmonious marriage of flavors of the ingredients within the soup, and not the venue in which is it served.

Minestra Maritata is a traditional Neapolitan soup containing greens and meat in a clear broth.  It is an extremely old dish that is thought to be of Roman origin.  The original version of this soup was quite heavy, containing  lots of different meats and leafy green vegetables.  It was intended to be a hearty and filling meal.  The more modern and “Americanized” version is much lighter, replacing the boiled meats with little meatballs.  Some variations also include pasta. 

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My version of Italian Wedding Soup is the one I grew up on.  This is the soup that both my grandmother and mother used to make on a regular basis.  It is made with a light chicken stock and includes pasta, spinach and the most fluffy, melt-in-your mouth mini-meatballs.  The airiness and lovely texture of these meatballs is due to two things.  First, I use ground veal to make them, instead of ground beef.  Second, I don’t fry or bake the meatballs before adding them to the soup.  Instead, I gently simmer them in the soup.  I also use panko crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs, which can sometimes make the meatballs a little dense and dry.

When time permits, I like to make a homemade chicken stock for my Minestra Maritata, but canned broth works just fine in a pinch.  You could also try the semi-homemade  stock I use in my “Quick, But it Tastes Like it Took All Day” Chicken Soup.

Minestra Maritata “my way” is a delightful and flavorful soup that would make a perfect first course at any meal.  You could even serve it at a wedding, if you wanted to.  But the nice thing is, you can enjoy it any time you want!

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35 responses to Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup)

  1. On July 18, 2009 at 8:18pm, Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

    This looks great Susan! My grandmother used to make it for every holiday and I never had it at an Italian wedding either! My grandma used pork, veal and beef in her mini meatballs, endive for the greens and no pasta. She also made these tiny, crunchy fried dough ” soup nuts” to serve on top. This brings back great memories! Your soup looks really delicious!

  2. On July 18, 2009 at 8:43pm, Kalyn said...

    That looks delicious! I love soup like this. (Not today though, it’s 100F in Salt Lake!)

  3. On July 18, 2009 at 8:46pm, Diana said...

    My mother in law makes this soup – I never tried it until I was married though not at any weddings. It’s a great tasting soup.

  4. On July 18, 2009 at 11:11pm, Donna said...

    Thanks for the history of the Wedding Soup… Most of my family is Italian and we use to have it a lot when I was a child… Yours looks so good it made me hungry for some…

    (((HUGS)))
    Donna

  5. On July 18, 2009 at 11:15pm, Manggy said...

    Aha! I knew I’d heard that clarification before, but I’m not sure if it was from Ina Garten or someone else. It’s been raining nonstop here, and though it’s still quite humid by American standards, we’re all tucked in right now; this looks like the perfect thing to melt the insides!

  6. On July 19, 2009 at 4:51am, Rosa said...

    That minestra look^s very delicious! A great combination of ingredients!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. On July 19, 2009 at 8:10am, Shelly said...

    One of my favorite soups! Also, cool pictures!

  8. On July 19, 2009 at 12:25pm, Eliana said...

    Your soup looks amazing. Great job.

  9. On July 19, 2009 at 1:44pm, Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

    Mmmm very similar to my (grandmother’s) recipe I posted a while back at my place; she, like Jenn’s grandmother, made little dough things, except she cooked them in soup…and they are called “bubbles.” Always endive with an egg drop at the end…and *always* for Christmas :)

  10. On July 19, 2009 at 2:00pm, Mara Routh said...

    I am so excited to have found your blog…it is really so much more than just a blog…would you mind if I refered it to some folks in my industry? I think you have a great pulse of what the consumer wants and what they are willing to do to get back to that favorite childhood memory or create new memories of their own.. I am actually cooking today for a small impromtu dinner party….I believe you have inspired me!!!!

  11. On July 19, 2009 at 6:00pm, Peter said...

    Susan, this one of my all-time favourite soups. When the fall arrives, I’m back in soup mode and you know Italian Wedding is in the roster.

  12. On July 19, 2009 at 7:50pm, Bellini Valli said...

    Sounds delicious Susan. I really need to make my own someday as not be satisfied with what is served at East Side Marios.

  13. On July 19, 2009 at 8:53pm, Karine said...

    I have never had this kind of soup, but it looks fantastic!

  14. On July 19, 2009 at 11:29pm, nina said...

    A new recipe for me, but it is definitely going on the priority list!!! Thx for sharing!!! Great photos!!

  15. On July 20, 2009 at 9:29am, Pigpigscorner said...

    I’ve never had this soup and I always thought it’s for weddings. Looks great!

  16. On July 20, 2009 at 10:11am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Would you believe the first time I had “wedding soup” was a a funeral? ;-D

    I love making soups like this. Meatballs are fun in soup and it’s great to add whatever greens you have on hand. Spinach is great, but I also like using escarole.

  17. On July 20, 2009 at 1:47pm, Veron said...

    Great history on the wedding soup. It looks mighty tasty!

  18. On July 20, 2009 at 6:05pm, City Girl said...

    This looks wonderful – and I love love love your photography :)

  19. On July 20, 2009 at 6:25pm, Aggie said...

    I grew up eating soup like this, yours looks so delicious and the perfect comfort food!

  20. On July 20, 2009 at 8:52pm, Cakelaw said...

    Looks and sounds delicious Sysan – I probably would have made the wedding feast assumption myself.

  21. On July 20, 2009 at 9:21pm, Jen @ MaplenCornbread said...

    You know this is one soup that I have never made…but now I really have too!! Thanks!!

  22. On July 21, 2009 at 1:05am, Coleen said...

    I’ve always thought it was strange that a meatball soup would be served at a wedding. I usually think of something a little fancier for that occasion; I’m glad to hear the real story on the recipe name!

  23. On July 21, 2009 at 10:54am, The Food Hunter said...

    This is one of my favorite soups. Yours looks delicious.

  24. On July 21, 2009 at 12:37pm, patsyk said...

    So happy you shared the meaning behind the name! I’ve always wondered if it was really served at weddings or not. It looks so delicious and I love that the meatballs are simmered in the broth, I’m sure that makes the flavor so much richer.

  25. On July 21, 2009 at 1:52pm, Sara said...

    My father in law makes this all the time, it is a family favorite. You version looks perfect!

  26. On July 21, 2009 at 2:27pm, ingrid said...

    Ooo, my children love this soup and I’ve made a semi-homemade version but not an “original”.
    ~ingrid

  27. On July 22, 2009 at 10:48pm, Tangled Noodle said...

    Thank you so much for the clear explanation of the name! This soup looks so delicious and the idea of simmering the meatballs instead of frying or baking beforehand is spot on. It is a perfect example of this soup’s name – the marriage of flavors from all the ingredients. As the meat simmers, it shares its flavor with the entire dish!

  28. On July 23, 2009 at 7:58am, Lucy said...

    What great pictures ot accompany the brill story about this soup! Looks ah-mazing :D

  29. On July 26, 2009 at 12:15pm, Ciaochowlinda said...

    This is very similar to the one I grew up eating. Looks fabulous.

  30. On September 12, 2009 at 3:49am, Patti said...

    I had a copy of Lee Iococca’s Italian Wedding Soup, which I lost in a move. This is the closest I have found. The one I had started with a whole chicked, which was used with onions, carrots & celery to make the chicked broth then the meat removed from the bones. After the veal meatballs were simmered in the soup to perfection, the shredded chicked was returned to the pot with homemade pasta squares. It usually took me two days to make, but it was absolutely worth it. I will try this version, it certainly looks wonderful.

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:01am, Susan said...

      That sounds like a great recipe! When time permits, I like to make homemade stock too. Luckily, this recipe is forgiving and works well with canned.

  31. On October 14, 2009 at 12:53pm, Leigh said...

    I tried this recipe along with your recipe for chicken stock and it was FANTASTIC! I’ve had wedding soup many times from other recipes and this is classic wedding soup the way it should be, thank you so much for taking the time to lay out this recipe!

  32. On June 08, 2013 at 10:33am, alex said...

    Excellent article. I will be going through a few of these issues as
    well..

  33. On March 07, 2014 at 9:16am, Easy Italian Recipes said...

    Hi! Your Italian wedding soup was nominated as one of the “Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipes on the Net”. To vote for it, please visit http://easyitalianrecipes.org/soup-recipes/best-italian-wedding-soup-recipes-on-the-net-vote-for-your-favorite/ (your recipe is positioned at #188).

1 pings to Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup)

  1. On August 09, 2009 at 8:09pm, Italian Wedding Soup - Muse in the Kitchen pinged...

    [...] So I was thrilled when I recently came across this recipe for Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup) over at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. [...]

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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