Italian Wedding Soup

Serves 6

 

Usually, a wedding comes after a relationship is underway, but with the first recipe in this collection, the nuptials will happen right out of the gate. Actually, though, the notion that this soup is traditionally served at Italian weddings is a myth. “Italian wedding soup” is a mistranslation of minestra maritata, or “married soup,” referring to the marriage of meat (most often meatballs, but sometimes sausage) and greens in the soup.

 

Because at its heart this is a vegetable soup, it’s easy to swap the real-meat meatballs in favor of the plant-based variety; the marriage of flavors and textures remains a beautiful love affair in a bowl.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 (12- to 16-ounce) package plant-based meatballs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 celery stalks, diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced, or 1 cup chopped baby carrots

4 cups water

1 large or 2 regular-size vegetable bouillon cubes

1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed

2–3 big handfuls greens (whole baby spinach or arugula leaves; chopped kale, chard, or escarole)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Dried hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Vegan mozzarella-style shreds for topping (optional)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the meatballs according to package directions, then set aside, covered, until needed.
  2. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and continue to saute until all are golden and soft, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the water, bouillon cubes, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a slow boil, then add the zucchini and beans. Turn down the heat and summer gently for 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until the zucchini is tender but not overdone.
  4. Stir in the greens and cook until just tender—a minute or so for the spinach and arugula and just a bit longer for sturdier greens. Stir in the parsley.
  5. If the soup is too crowded, add a bit more water, then season with salt and pepper. If time allows let stand off the heat for half an hour or so to allow the flavors to develop, then heat through.
  6. To serve, ladle the soup into individual serving bowls, then divide the meatballs among each bowl. Pass around dried hot pepper flakes for those who’d like more heat as well as vegan mozzarella-style shreds for topping the soup.

 

VARIATION

Sometimes this soup cries out for pasta. If you want to stretch the number of servings, add 6 to 8 ounces of cooked pasta. Choose a small shape, like tiny shells or ditalini, cook separately, then add to the soup when adding the spinach and parsley. You’ll have to adjust the amount of water as well as the seasonings, especially if you have leftovers that have been refrigerated.