I  have tried at least 6 versions of Italian wedding soup. All were similar but all had a few variations. Here is a version of this traditional Italian staple that was compiled from all of those efforts.

Italian Meat Balls
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Italian Romano cheese
1/4 cup Italian Parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup homemade Italian bread crumbs
3-4 T fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup whole milk or non-fat half and half
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground lamb or pork

Spice mix:

1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T ground allspice
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
1 T sea salt

Mix everything in a bowl just like you would with meat loaf.

Roll into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls, should make 25-30.

Sauté in olive oil until just brown on the outside.

Remove form heat and set aside.

Ingredients for the soup:
1-2 T e. v. olive oil
3/4 cup carrots, chopped (an Italian wedding soup staple)
3/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T dry sherry, Madeira, or Marsala wine
1 cup diced, smoked ham or Canadian Bacon, or 10 oz. of canned ham, broken up with a fork (not in some Italian wedding soup recipes but the ham adds a lot in our humble opinions). 5-6 cups chicken stock

More Soup Ingredients:
1 cup round pasta, such as shell. (One Italian wedding soup recipe I tried  to use a regular can of white beans instead of pasta. Another Italian wedding soup recipe used orzo. Try it each way ~ It’s ALL good!)
1 T dried oregano
5-6 large leaves fresh basil, chopped
3 cups arugula or baby spinach I like arugula best, with its peppery taste)
3-4 T chopped Italian Parsley (for final garnish)
1/2 cup shredded Italian Parmigiano-reggiano (sprinkle before serving)

Soup Preparation:
Sauté onions, celery and carrots in olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes

Add garlic and sauté 2 more minutes.

Add the ham, then the balsamic vinegar and let it be absorbed.

Add sherry and let it reduce (This seems kind of like a lot of steps, we know, but they all build layers of flavor that will set your creation apart from most. This is the type of technique a Professional Chef would use to create a dish that people rave about, and unfortunately, pay through the nose for. Unfortunately, that is, unless you own the restaurant!)

When sherry is almost evaporated, add the chicken stock, pasta, meat balls and oregano. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is soft.

Add the chopped basil and the whole arugula leaves, and simmer 1 more minute and remove from heat.

Add Italian parsley and Parmigiano-reggiano to complete this wonderful, Italian soup recipe that will have your friends calling you “Gourmet Extraordinaire”.

I do not know the origin of Italian wedding soup, nor how it got its unusual but romantic name. Maybe there is not that much of a story here, really. Could be, it is just a traditional soup served at weddings in a particular region of the country.

Buon appetito always!!

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