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Lidia Bastianich’s Wedding Soup Recipe

Excerpted from Celebrate Like an Italian:

I am still not 100 percent certain how this soup got its name, but I’ve narrowed the possibilities down to two passed-down explanations. One is that there is a marriage between all the vegetables and the meatballs. The other is that nutritional reinforcements are needed by the bride and groom, hence the addition of meat to a vegetable soup that is served at the meal before the wedding night. The latter might have more credence, since an alternative name for this soup in Italian is zuppa di rinforzamento. In any case, this festive vegetable soup with little meatballs can be a whole meal by itself. It also works very well as a holiday antipasto course, to be followed by a roast. As with a wedding, it takes a lot of preparation to get this recipe together, but it can be done a day or two in advance and reheated when your guests come. When you reheat the soup, always bring it back to a boil, to give it that just-cooked flavor.

Wedding Soup

Serves 10 to 12


For the Soup:

2 pounds veal bones
2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
2 pounds chicken wings, backs, or necks, or a combination
2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound carrots, trimmed but left whole 4 stalks celery, halved crosswise
2 medium onions, halved
1 piece rind from a wedge of Grana Padano left from grating
½ tablespoon black peppercorns
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley 3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 large bunch spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 10 cups loosely packed leaves)
1 cup orzo or other small pasta (optional)

For the Meatballs:

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
1 pound ground turkey 8 ounces ground pork
1 cup fine dried bread crumbs
½ cup grated Grana Padano
1 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley 1 large egg, beaten
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling Grated Grana Padano, for serving


Make the Soup:

  1. For the soup, in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, com- bine the veal bones, short ribs, chicken parts, leeks, carrots, celery, onions, cheese rind, peppercorns, parsley, tomato paste, salt, and 6 quarts water. Cover, heat, and simmer for 2 hours, occasionally skimming and discarding the scum and foam that rise to the surface. Uncover, and simmer until reduced by about half, about 1 hour more.
  2. Drain the solids, and return the broth to a cleaned pot. Shred any meat from the short ribs and chicken parts, discarding the fat and bone, and reserve. Cut the carrots into ½-inch pieces, and reserve.

Make the Meatballs:

  1. For the meatballs, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, pork, bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley, egg, and salt. Mix well with your hands. Roll into 1-inch meatballs, and add to the boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then transfer with a spider or slotted spoon to the stock.
  2. Return the soup to a simmer. Add the reserved shredded meats, the reserved carrots, and the spinach. Simmer until the spinach is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, adding the orzo in the last 7 or 8 minutes if desired. Serve in soup bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

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