Before I starting this blog, I always imagined food bloggers whipping up daily feasts and hosting frequent dinner parties, sending off leftovers to all the neighbours and family friends, feeding the nation with their overflowing kitchens. Alas, real life is chaotic and last-minute; often, even my own flatmates are out of the house when I have a free day to make a proper meal.
But a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of cooking for twelve people. It was a fun challenge and despite inexperience in delegating amounts of meat, each person ended up with exactly two parmesan-stuffed meatballs in their bowl.
My memories of Italian Wedding Soup are connected to homeliness and comfort, but aren’t glamorous in the least. We kept a seemingly self-regenerating pyramid of “Campbell’s Select” soup tins in the pantry, for the times Mom was fast asleep around midnight and I craved something other than Cheez-Its.
Incredibly, I don’t recall having ever tasted a fresh version before. I only dared to make a batch for this occasion because I figured anything tasting that good in a tin would taste even better out of a cast-iron pot with February turkey. It’s no wonder the Italians christened it “wedding soup”—not after matrimonial ceremonies, but after the beautiful “marriage” of ingredients and flavours. Turns out the coupling works just as well when kale replaces escarole, when big butter beans replace the pearly pasta balls called acini de pepe. Keeping the hungry crowd in mind, I also beefed this one up with potatoes, enriching the stock with parmesan rind.
All in all, it’s a crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for late February. London’s getting warmer by the week, and I’ve even dared to cycle without gloves. Still at the tail-end of winter, my premature longing for summer translates to this hearty soup—with a broth rich but clear, warm but bright—whispering of springtime.
Italian Wedding Soup
- 1kg minced turkey
- 1 small onion, finely minced
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- ¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
- ½ cup parmesan, freshly grated
- 1 egg
- handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 t dried oregano
- 1 t black pepper
- 1 ½ t salt
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- chicken stock
- parmesan rind, washed
- 300g butter beans, dried
- 500g potatoes, chopped
- 300g kale, chopped roughly
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup parmesan, freshly grated
- salt & pepper
Soak butter beans overnight, covering with at least a few centimetres of water.
Preheat oven to 175ºC / 350ºF.
Combine ground meat, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan, egg, and herbs/spices. Mix thoroughly with hands, forming into meatballs of desired size. With each the size of a golfball, you’ll have about 24. Place on lightly greased sheets and bake for 20-30 minutes, alternating racks at the halfway mark so both get equal heat distribution.
Heat up some oil in a deep saucepan and sauté onions, celery, and garlic until tender and fragrant. Add the chicken stock along with the rind of your parmesan, which will add a wonderful dimension to the broth. Put in the potatoes and drained beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes until beans are tender but not falling apart.
Add the kale and meatballs, covering to simmer another 10 minutes until the greens are wilted.
Slowly stream in the beaten mixture of egg and parmesan, stirring constantly for another minute until egg is set in ribbons. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with chopped parsley and multigrain bread.