Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Recipe: Italian Wedding Soup

This past September, our friend Kate Strain asked us if we would participate in the opening event of Kunstverein Aughrim, her new curatorial office and production agency for contemporary art projects. Kate hoped to temporarily re-open the cafe beside her building, offering visitors some hot stew and a fresh piece of bread between events for her opening weekend. We’ve known Kate since 2015, when we invited her and Rachael Gilbourne to be our first collaborators for our then-new curated residency program. We were thrilled to participate in the event to support Kate and be a small part of her newest venture, bringing our ethos for hospitality to another context.

Thinking through all the exciting possibilities, Frank decided to make Italian Wedding Soup for the event. Frank always associated this particular dish with special family gatherings; most memorably, his grandfather Louis Zinni would make a large batch for Christmas every year. The extra care that goes into crafting the small meatballs was a rare treat and seemed well suited for what was sure to be a special event. This soup originates in Naples; Minestra maritata, or married soup, refers to the union of leafy greens and meat, not nuptial celebrations. This definition seemed appropriate, considering Kate’s particular talents for presenting seemingly disparate practices together with ease and grace.

For the day, Frank prepared two versions, one with the traditional meatballs his grandfather used to serve and another with butterbeans for the vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free folks. Frank made his own stocks for the event, but if you’re looking to save some time, you can, of course, buy a good quality broth instead. We can’t get escarole, the vegetable Frank’s grandfather used to use, here in Ireland, so Frank used cavolo nero kale from Fortunes Farm instead. We finished the dish with a small splash of lemon juice, some freshly grated parmesan cheese, and a bit of parsley. For those into spice, we also had garlic and chili oil to add a bit of heat. The soup provided much warmth and nourishment on what was an eventful day.

Ingredients: Chicken Stock

  • one or two chicken carcasses
  • a few carrots, stalks of celery, and an onion halved
  • one bay leaf

Ingredients: Veggie Stock

  • scrap vegetables such as leek, turnip, or swede
  • a few dried porcini mushrooms
  • a few carrots, stalks of celery, and an onion halved
  • one bay leaf

Method:

Place all the ingredients in a stock pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, straining any white scum that might rise to the top. Lower to a simmer. Gently cook the chicken stock for four hours, or if you’re making the veggie stock, cook for one hour.

Ingredients: Italian Wedding Soup

  • 2 or 3 carrots diced
  • 3 or 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 200g escarole, chard, kale, or spinach chopped
  • 1.5l chicken stock
  • 150g orzo, pearl couscous or other small pasta
  • about 50 small meatballs
  • 2 whisked eggs
  • lemon juice, chopped flat parsley, and grated parmesan cheese for serving

Method:

In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil, add the greens, and when it comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Kale takes about twenty minutes, but if you choose another green, it will likely take less time. After ten minutes, add the carrots, celery, and onion, cooking for an additional ten minutes until they’re tender.

In a separate pot, bring some salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it for one minute less than the instructions on the packet. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Remove the vegetables from the stock and set aside. Slowly pour the egg into the stock. It will cook immediately. Add the vegetables back to the stock along with the meatballs and pasta. Allow the ingredients to marry for a few minutes, then squeeze in some lemon juice to taste. Serve with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

If you don’t think you’ll be eating all the soup at once, you can set aside the pasta and add a small amount to each serving when it’s in the bowl. Pasta tends to overcook if it’s reheated in the stock. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Meatballs

  • 500g minced beef
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 20g parmesan cheese grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 15g flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg

Method:

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Form the mixture into tiny meatballs. Each one should be the size of a large gumball. They weigh somewhere between 10 and 15 grams; you should end up with about 50. Fry the meatballs (for approximately 5 minutes) in a bit of oil and drain them in a colander or sieve. You’ll want to cook these meatballs through since they won’t be cooking for long in the soup.

Ingredients: Garlic & Chilli Oil

  • 150ml olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic sliced as thin as you can get it
  • 5tbs crushed chili flakes
  • 1/2tsp salt

Method:

Heat the oil in a small saucepan until it’s shimmering. Be careful not to let the oil smoke. It will impart a burnt, bitter flavor. Add garlic, salt, and chili flakes in a separate heat-proof bowl. When the oil is ready, pour over the chili mixture. There should be a sizzling sound for a few seconds. You can give it a little stir, and it’s ready! Keep this in the fridge for pasta, eggs, or anything else that needs a little kick.

 

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