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Italian Wedding Soup

The best Italian Wedding Soup with flavorful chicken meatballs, pestata, and lots of vegetables. This soup is absolutely delicious, nutritious, and feeds a crowd! 

A spoonful of finished Italian Wedding Soup with a chicken meatball in the spoon.

Nothing’s easier when feeding a crowd than a big pot of soup or chili or something you can do as a one-pot meal. A few weeks ago, we hosted our lifegroup (what we call our church’s small groups) at our house and I made this delicious Italian wedding soup.

It’s nutritious and great comfort food at the same time, a perfect combination in a soup.

I used a combination of Lidia Bastianich’s recipe and Ina Garten’s recipe, pulling parts from each that I thought would be good and throwing in my own touches here and there. The end result was a flavorful broth filled with scrumptious chicken meatballs and spinach, along with Lidia’s pestata.

It was perfect!

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

For the meatballs, you’ll need ground chicken, sweet Italian sausage, fresh bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, milk, eggs, and salt and pepper.

Dump it all in a bowl and mix gently with a fork or your fingers.

Ground chicken and other ingredients in a bowl to make chicken meatballs.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out 1-inch sized portions onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Chicken meatballs on parchment paper on a baking sheet ready to bake for Italian Wedding Soup.

These are pretty small, but you want them that way for the soup. If I were making them to eat by themselves or with something else, I’d make them closer to golf ball size. 

Bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned.

Chicken meatballs browned and in a bowl ready to add to Italian wedding soup.

While the meatballs are baking, start the soup. To make the pestata, you need basil, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.

Basil, carrots, onion, and celery in food processor to make pestata.

Doesn’t that look pretty and fresh already? Mince it in the food processor until it becomes a smooth paste.

The pestata pureed in the food processor.

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large stock pot over high heat and add the pestata. Cook for about five minutes, stirring the whole time, until the pestata starts to lose moisture and begins to stick a little.

Pour in chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the pestata and mixing well.

Overhead shot of mixing pestata in with chicken broth.

Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in fennel, zucchini and escarole. Add salt to taste.

Sliced fennel on cutting board with knife.

Return to a simmer and cook 45 minutes covered, then remove cover and simmer another 45 minutes. Drop in the meatballs and spinach. Simmer 5 more minutes, then add cubes of provolone cheese and serve.

A bowl of Italian Wedding soup with cheese on top and bread on plate.

**Cook’s Tip: I used a mixture of freshly grated Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and served with a sliced whole grain bread. Enjoy!

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Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours

Italian Wedding Soup made with chicken sausage meatballs and escarole. 

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian or ground chicken sausage
  • 1 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Pestata

  • 1 1/2 onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 carrot, chopped in large chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Soup

  • 8 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large fennel bulb, sliced into pieces 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 12 ounces baby spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
  • 1 head escarole, cut into 1/2 inch shreds
  • 1 cup provolone cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Instructions

Meatballs

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper for the meatballs.
  2. Place ground chicken, sweet Italian sausage, fresh bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano and 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, milk, eggs and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Mix gently with a fork or your fingers. Using a teaspoon, scoop out portions about 1 inch size onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned.
  4. While the meatballs are baking, start the soup.

Pestata

  1. Place basil, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in a food processor and mince into a smooth paste.

Soup

  1. Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large stock pot over high heat and add the pestata. Cook for about five minutes, stirring the whole time, until the pestata is starting to lose moisture and beginning to stick a little.
  2. Pour in chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the pestata and mixing well. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes then stir in fennel, zucchini and escarole.
  3. Return to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, covered. Remove cover and simmer another 45 minutes, then drop in the meatballs and spinach. Simmer 5 more minutes, then drop in cubes of provolone cheese.
  4. Serve with a mixture of freshly grated Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and hearty, whole grain bread.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 12 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 671Saturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 153mgSodium: 1753mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 13gProtein: 45g

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Shawn

Thursday 9th of February 2012

Great recipe development! I'm definitely trying this soon.