This meatball and pastina soup has made a major come-back on social media recently and I’m into it!
The stand-out ingredients are mini meatballs and a leafy green like spinach or escarole. It was literally the soup served at every Italian wedding I attended as a child here in Montreal, so it’s not just a myth 😉 It’s also the soup that my Aunt Rosa made every year for Christmas, except she didn’t use the more traditional pastina. Rather, she preferred to use little meat filled tortellini and we loved it!
Sadly, it has fallen out of fashion to serve it at restaurants and banquets but it’s a soup that can easily be enjoyed at home for a hearty, warm and fulfilling meal.
For the meatballs, (the best part of this soup) I follow my mom’s recipe because well…her’s are epic. I’ve shared it on my Instagram page along with a step-by-step cooking tutorial with my mom. Check it out here! It’ll surely become your new go-to recipe. You can make them in advance, freeze them and just throw them in the soup frozen for a quick weeknight meal.
I hope you love this soup and if you do, make sure to share your thoughts here or on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you.
Italian Wedding Soup
Eleonora’s meatball mixture:
- 1 LB ground veal
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs beaten
- ½ yellow onion finely diced (food processor)
- 3 large or 4 small cloves garlic minced
- 4 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Olive oil
- 1 med carrot diced to sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 1 celery stalk finely diced
- 1 small onion finely diced (can be chopped in a small food processor along with the celery)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 2 peeled tomatoes canned, crushed by hand
- 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
- Salt to taste
- Parmigiano rind small piece for simmering to flavour broth
- 1-2 Rosemary sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 150 g pastina such as Stelline Orzo or Acini di pepe
- 2 bunches baby spinach leaves or 4 cups approx. escarole, roughly chopped
- Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated for sprinkling
- Optional – Canned white beans such as cannellini
Start by making your meatball mixture.
- In a medium bowl, add meat, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.
- Add chopped onion and garlic, cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and beaten eggs.
- Combine the mixture with a large fork until ingredients are evenly combined then knead a little with your hands scooping from the bottom to the top. Don’t overmix.
- Take a large cookie sheet and cover it with parchment paper.
- Roll out your mini meatballs to about the size of a marble and place them on the prepared cookie sheet, not touching one another.
- At this point you can either bake your meatballs at 400F (uncovered) until just cooked through or quickly pan sear to get some browning on them. I recommend this way as it’s more flavourful.
- Set cooked meatballs aside as you make your soup.
- Heat a stock pot/Dutch oven on medium heat and add about 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Do not brown.
- Add minced garlic and crushed tomatoes.
- Add bay leaf and rosemary and cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
- Add broth and water
- Add salt (start with a tsp and taste again later, adjusting if necessary)
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer
- Add escarole or spinach leaves
- When the vegetables are tender, add the desired number of meatballs to the broth to warm through. (put about half of the total quantity of meatballs)
- Meanwhile boil your pastina in salted water.
- Once done, drain and add pastina to soup.
- Ladle into bowls and top with freshly grated Pecorino Romano, freshly cracked pepper and a ribbon of olive oil
- Serve with grilled Italian bread and enjoy!