The Secret of Minestra Maritata

Whatever it is you’ve been led to believe about Italian Wedding Soup is most certainly wrong.

The idea that this soup is served at Italian weddings is a misconception that has penetrated the psyche of an American public yearning for a lost European past, clinging to an imagined memory of nuptual celebrations – families, friends, bride and groom sharing a broth filled with meat, vegetables and pasta, just as their parents and grandparents had done for generations before in the small towns and villages of Italy.

The thing is, it never happened. None of it.

To understand, you must first learn two Italian words. Two words that name a soup and unlock a secret – “Minestra Maritata”. Translated into English, these words simply mean ‘Married Soup”.

Not Wedding Soup. Married Soup. You see it now, don’t you? How the mistranslation of one simple word can create a nationwide collective false memory.

But why this name, Minestra Maritata? What marriage does it celebrate, if not that of two people in love?

That is the secret of Minestra Maritata, my friend, and to learn it, you must journey to the past. A past when the Cosa Nostra ruled Sicily, families warred for control of their own piece of the American Dream and one chosen family held the secret of a very special soup. (I warn you, the video you are about to see is shocking. You may want to have small children and naive cooks leave the room…)

Don Corleone tells Michael the Secret of the Soup
Now that you know it’s Secret, there’s only one more thing you need to know about Minstra Maritata.
It’s delicious.
Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup)
There are many versions of this wonderful soup (see below for just a few I found). I modified Ina Gartens recipe just a tad.
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound ground turkey
2/3 cup fresh homemade breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large minced onion
3 carrots, 1/4 inch dice
2 stalks celery, 1/4 inch dice
10 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup small tube pasta
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Salt and pepper to tastePreheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the ground chicken and turkey, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine. Using a mini scooper, drop meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside. (Try not to eat too many while the soup is cooking.)

In the meantime, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened. Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with extra grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top.

Everyone makes Italian Wedding Soup!

9 Responses to The Secret of Minestra Maritata

  1. I gotta get me one of those little mini scoops. Rolling the mini chicken meatballs takes forever by hand. Is there a mini-mini scoop? I like to make them very tiny and they cook so fast that way, too.

    Looks de-lish!

    XO, OBS Housekeeper

  2. And…I can say this only because I am your sister…YOU ARE NUTS! That video is hysterical! Never knew you could mimic Don Corleone so well…your talents never cease to amaze me!

    XO, OBS Housekeeper

  3. Hi Margaret,

    I'm Susan from Jersey Girl in the Kitchen.

    Thank you soooooo much for linking to my blog! That rocks.

    I love your blog. I hope to try out some of your recipes. Have a great day!

  4. I'm salivating just reading this post. Unless you are giving out free samples, you can't make this soup sound so damn good! LOL

    WE are going to try your recipe out. Thanks.

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