real life test kitchen: italian wedding soup

Italian Wedding Soup is based on a lie. Well, not really. It’s actually based on a mistranslation. The Italian name for the hearty, bone-warming soup is “minestra maritata,” which literally translates to “married soup.” The phrase isn’t meant to be literal though. It’s a play on words referring to the harmonious marriage of meat and vegetables.

I’ve tried a lot of Italian Wedding Soup recipes and this one from Framed Cooks is hands down my favorite. Hearty and delicious, my husband and I always fight over who gets the last bowl.



  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped finely
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped finely
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cup dried pasta (I like small shells)
  • 1 lb fresh baby spinach



    1. Heat oil in a deep, large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, cover pot and cook veggies for 5 minutes, stirring now and then.
    2. While the veggies cook, combine the meat, egg, garlic, cheese, crumbs, and nutmeg.
    3. Uncover pot. Add brother and water, and then bring to a boil. When soup reaches boil, reduce heat a bit and start rolling the meat mixture into very small meatballs, dropping them into the soup as you go.
    4. When you are done with the meatballs, add the pasta, stir, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
    5. When pasta is tender, stir in the spinach. When the spinach is wilted, the soup is ready. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve.

Pro tip:

Unless you plan on eating the entire pot in one sitting (maybe you’re having a soup dinner party- I won’t judge. In fact, that actually sounds pretty fun), cook and store the pasta separately from the rest of the soup. On my first batch, I put everything in one huge Tupperware in the refrigerator. The pasta soaked up almost all of the broth so, when I went for a helping the next day, it was almost like a wet, mushy pasta casserole. It was still delicious, but it probably no longer qualified as soup.

From our partners

I think Italian Wedding Soup is my all-time favoritest of favorite soups. How can you not like a soup that manages to cram meatballs, greens and pasta into one pot? Can NOT wait to try this version!

PS – have you ever tried a bit of lemon juice at the end to finish it? It does lovely things… :)

T Bone

how can meatballs in a soup be embraced when my meatball cereal idea was laughed out of the room? this must be some kind of popularity contest.