So, I have always wanted to make wedding soup, but have never tried it. Until now. Skip to the end if you just want the recipe and none of my shenanigans.
Wedding soup recipes abound on the internet. Some people are vehement that theirs is the “right” way. Apparently the inclusion of pasta is a beans-in-chili-like debate. I would guess that it depends on your region, heritage, and family traditions. I have none of these ties. I’m just a yinzer that likes food. I did reach out via Facebook to see how others do it. I wanted to try to make the soup because of the tiny pasta, I think. I may have also made some other “controversial” decisions.
Pasta. Even though real Italians apparently don’t include pasta in their soup, I am not Italian. Not remotely, even. Seriously. My wife got me the DNA thing for my birthday a few years back and I’m apparently super English, Scottish, Welsh, & Irish with a bit of Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula thrown in. I had to Google the Iberian Peninsula. So, as a Yinzer I am making a stand with pasta in the wedding soup because that’s how I have seen it. Orzo looked too much like rice,and rice in soup is gross. (I know, it is an entirely different consistency. Just accept the fact that rice in soup is gross, you’re wrong if you disagree, and read on.) I did most of my shopping at Aldi, but they had no tiny pasta… so I went to Giant Eagle and got Acini De Pepe. I could have also easily gone with what Barilla calls Pastina (neat tiny stars!) and apparently is not even a thing or it’s a generic thing.
I chose to make the meatballs myself, because I like making meatballs. They’re big-ass meatballs because I have poor portion control and couldn’t use the mellon-baller to effectively help reel it in, and who wants a little tiny meatball anyway? I used beef, because cows are tasty. I typically don’t do the lamb/veal/pork mix in any meatballs or meatloaf, so why start now? I also opted for ground beef in lieu of chicken or turkey, because beef. Sheep are for making blankets, not eating… unless you like eating meat that tastes like wool blankets.
In my meatballs, I use Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing & crushed seasoned croutons. I also tossed in some extra spices (onion & garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever “Italian Seasoning” is), two eggs, and parmesan/romano “shake cheese.” (Does anyone else call it that?) I generally crush the croutons with my hands, but since I was apathetically trying to make smaller meatballs and my 3yo was my helper, I put some in a sandwich baggie and smashed to crap out of them with the shake-cheese bottle. Why use bread crumbs when you can smash stuff? I could totally skip the dressing & toss in whatever spices… but I tried this one time with meatballs to go with spaghetti or lasagna and we liked it, so it stuck. We cooked them in 2 frying pans, because it seemed quick. I like to bake meatballs sometimes too. This really could be a 7-day damn project of soup.
A lot of wedding soup recipes call for shredded chicken. I never really noticed it in the wedding soups I had eaten until at a recent wedding where they left the chicken in sizable chunks. Maybe it was an accident? I have no idea, but I liked it. I felt like I was taking a bite of something instead of creepy little chicken strings being used as a garnish. Also, I decided to cheat and not make stock… or I probably would have roasted then boiled the shit out of a chicken carcass and produced some shredded chicken as well as tasty stock. I grilled the chicken in the manliest way possible outdoors over an open flame like our cavemen ancestors. OK, I cooked it on a counter-top panini grill and attempted to give it some nice criss-crossed grill lines before letting it cool and cutting it into “cubes” with less knife skills than Stevie Wonder. I wanted to know I was eating chicken. I probably put some season salt on it.
I made a mirepoix, I think. I put some butter in the bottom of the soup pot, and heated up some finely chopped carrots, celery (stalks and some of the leafy top), onion, & a bit of parsley and the lazy-people chopped-up-already in a jar garlic. Did those last two mess up the mirepoix? Salt and pepper went in there too, because the Food Network says to season every step or something like that.
Then I added some random boxes of stock & broth from Aldi. Really. I couldn’t decide. So, I got lowfat (that’s all they had) chicken stock, chicken broth, and low sodium chicken broth. They were all those creepy giant juice-boxish containers that no doubt every chicken aspires to reside in someday. I almost bought a vegetable stock, but didn’t. How do you get vegetable stock anyway? Isn’t that just broth? Isn’t the difference between stock & broth the inclusion of bones?
After that, I added the meatballs and chicken and let it boil for a bit. Maybe on like 7 or 8? I hate when recipes say “medium-high” heat. Give me a number, damnit. There are numbers on my oven. Are they there for no reason? How long? I don’t know. Long enough to chop up the “fresh” spinach.
I went for the fresh spinach in a plastic box at Aldi. I didn’t see any with the produce, didn’t catch it in frozen, and bought a can as backup just in case. They didn’t have any endive or escarole that I noticed. I wasn’t sure about Kale but may try that next time. I probably could have added the canned spinach too… it could have used a bit more maybe? Although, my meatball helper who crushed about 4 or 5 meatballs after we cooked them wasn’t a big fan of the soup itself because “big kids don’t like spinach sometimes.” She will eat pasta, grilled chicken, carrots, and meatballs all day every day. But the spinach was a no-go I guess. I think I added about 4 cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes in there somewhere.
I added the spinach and the box of acini de pepe at the same time. I let it go for the recommended 9 minutes. I know I had been advised to not do it that way. Cooking the pasta separately first then adding the rest of the soup over it in a bowl would be the level-headed thing to do. I was ready to eat by that point though, so in it went.
It was delicious on the first run if I do say so myself. Upon having leftovers, the acini de pepe swelled to ridiculous proportions. Ha ha. Next time I will cook the pasta first or only use half of a box. Or, I will do it the same way and have wedding pasta. Your soup means nothing to me! My total meat and carb domination can not be culled.
Well, on to the recipe if you even made it this far:
Non-Italian Wedding Soup Recipe:
This is not your ordinary recipe. I don’t measure much. I just throw stuff into a pot, especially with meatballs and soup. Obviously, use whatever you have on hand. Make substitutions. This is a recipe in the loosest sense of the word. This is how I did it this time. I may do it different next time. There probably are some good details above that I neglected to mention down here.
- 3 lb. Ground beef (I think it was 80/20?)
- Seasoned Croutons (grab your favorite)
- Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing
- 2 eggs, beaten.
- Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”
One day when making meatballs, I grabbed the dressing & croutons because they were on the counter. We were probably having salad with our spaghetti or lasagna. It’s just breadcrumbs & oil with some seasonings in it. I usually smash the croutons by hand, but crushed some of these with a plastic sandwich bag & the Parmesan cheese container since I was trying to make smaller(ish) meatballs. I added some more spices (see below) with the beaten egg, and mixed the meatballs by hand. I used a fancy mellon-baller with an ice-cream-scoop like trigger mechanism that my mom had given me for a few of them, to measure… but they got out of hand easily and I had my 3yo helping. So, they were probably bigger than they needed to be. How much dressing and croutons? Eye it. I do. I like meatballs that are mostly meat, not bread.
- A few handsful of Carrots (I started with the baby-cut ones because the kids snack on them.)
- Maybe ⅓ of a bunch Celery? (I chopped up the stalks & some leaves.)
- An Onion
- Fresh Parsley
- Spinach – I got a box of the “fresh” stuff from Aldi.
- Grilled & poorly diced Chicken Breasts (I did mine on the panini grill)
- Home-Made Meatballs (…or use frozen ones from the store.)
- 3 creepy juice-box-like broth/stock containers. I literally got 3 different kinds of chicken broth.
- 4-sh cups water
- 2 chicken bullion cubes
- Minced garlic in Olive Oil (because I’m lazy & don’t want to mince my own.)
- Butter (enough to cover the bottom of your soup pot when it melts)
- Parmesan/Romano “shake cheese”
- Shredded Parmesan (Aldi had a fancy little container.)
- De Cecco Acini De Pepe
I started out with the butter melting on the bottom of the soup pot, then added the carrots, celery, onion, & some parsley. I sauteed that for a bit, then dumped in the 3 weird juice boxes of chicken broth/stock over top of that and brought it to a boil. I reduced the heat a bit, and added the chicken and meatballs. I let it get back to a boil and added some of the shredded Parmesan & Parmesan/Romano shake cheese to the broth. I let that simmer for a bit and eventually added -ish more cups of water and 2 chicken bullion cubes. (Maybe beef bullion would have been cool here?) Once that boiled again, I added the pasta & spinach & boiled for another 9 minutes. It was tasty. I burned my tongue. Let it cool. Be patient.
- Season All
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Crushed Black Pepper
- Sea salt
- White Pepper
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Italian Seasoning
- Parsley Flakes
When I refer to seasonings or spices, it could have been any combination of these. I just grab & shake whenever.
Please, let me know if you tried your own inspired by this one. Let me know if you do your own a totally different way. Let me know what I did right, or let me know what I did “wrong.” Thanks for reading!
Check out some of my past recipes:
- Meatball Subs
- Pittsburgh Chipped Ham BBQ
- Those Other Stuffed Peppers
- BBQ Pork & Slaw Sandwiches
- Hamburgers vs. Meatballs vs. Meatloaf?
- Nine Can Vegetable Soup