Thursday, November 19, 2009
Italian Wedding Soup and what it means.
Last night, while watching Sarah Palin do the Sean Hannity interview and the Top Chefs do the Top Chef thang, I said to The Husband, “I must know why Italian wedding soup is called Italian wedding soup. It’s not like they’ve ever served it at the 5 billion Italian weddings we’ve attended.” I was bundled up in a blankie and surrounded by six cookbooks and the new fab J. Crew catalogue, none of which were giving me answers.
The Husband grasped at some straws. “Maybe they served it at weddings a long, long time ago?” he offered, turning back to his newspaper and Sean.
I kept researching, because when I need to know something, I NEED TO KNOW!
Yeah, I’m a bit obsessive.
But, behold the trusty Internets came to the rescue.
So according to a few food Web sites, Italian wedding soup is just a dumb American mistranslation of the Italian phrase, “minestra maritata.” Minestra is the Italian word for soup; maritata stands for married. But the “married” bit refers to the yummy, fantabulous union of greens such as escarole or chard or spinach and meat, which are featured in the delish soup.
The name has absolutely nothing to do with vows and receptions and chicken dances and bridesmaid dresses from hell.
Well, I’m sure really smart foodie people knew.
But little ole’ me had no idear.
Anyways, I wanted to know this info because I was prepping to make my Suzie version of minestra maritata, which I like saying way more than Italian wedding soup.
So from now on, minestra maritata stands.
Yeah, I’m sure the pronunciation is being botched by yours truly.
See what one year of high school Italian, three years of high school French and four years of college Italian get ya?
Absolutely no skill at all in pronouncing foreign words.
Yay! This is really helpful on all my world travels. They LOVED me in Paris and my deer-in-headlights response, “Parlez vous anglais? Me dumb American.”
Truth be told it’s probably my fault: I’m quasi deaf from genetics and constant piano playing and blaring Bon Jovi and U2 and Pearl Jam in my Mustang as a teen and dancing to Duran Duran and Madonna with the volume turned ALL THE WAY UP when MTV actually played videos as a kiddie. And, I can barely pronounce words in English. When people talk foreign to me it’s as if Charlie Brown’s teachers have descended into real life right before my eyes….. or really bad ears.
On to the soup…
I put tortellini in my soup to make it more substantial. Usually, you use acini di pepi, which are super tiny pasta. I brought a huge vat of the soup in question over to my sister Michele’s for her fam. Hope they dig it!
Be sure to thoroughly wash your greens.
Escarole and Meatball Soup aka Minestra Maritata
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground chuck or sirloin
2 extra-large eggs
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
For the soup:
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1 head escarole, cleaned and shredded
½ pound tortellini or ¾ cup fav soup pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fill a large bowl or a clean sink with water. Place escarole leaves in water. Wait five minutes. Drain and repeat. Shred into 1/2 inch strips.
Make the meatball mixture:
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Don’t overmix! Let mixture sit for about 15-20 minutes.
For the soup:
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add broth and water. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat to medium so that soup simmers. Roll meatballs with a 3/4 inch circumference.
Add meatballs into soup pot. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add escarole. Cover pot with lid. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add tortellini. Cook for 20 minutes.
Serve with parmesan cheese and Italian bread.
Makes about 10 to 12 servings.