Wedding Soup With Meatballs

Its original name in Italian is minestra maritata, which translates to “wedding soup”. But some say a more appropriate name would be, “wedded broths”—as in leafy green vegetables (minestra) blended with meat (maritata). The marriage in this soup isn’t referring to the marriage between two people like many believe, but rather to the dish’s nuanced flavors between the vegetables and meat. Blended and gently simmered, the two together make for a brothy union of complete perfection.

wedding soup with meatballs

Wedding soup, or wedding soup with meatballs, as I call it, originates in the southern Italian region of Campania, where it’s found in various incarnations linked to traditional rituals. In the Alto Casertano, minestra maritata is related to the annual pig slaughter.  In the Irpinia zone of southern Campania, deep in the Apennines, most recipes for this winter dish also call for nnoglia di maiale, a salami made from pressed, cured pork lending itself to a rich, meaty flavor like none other. And the Neapolitan version is richer in its meat content.

This version of the soup encompasses three separate broths: pork skin and other scraps, beef shank, and hen. A variety of local greens from around the area, each prepared separately before joining the broths in their wedded matrimony.

wedding soup with meatballs

On the Amalfi Coast, the soup is prepared around Christmas as well as Easter. Owing to their distinct seasonal ingredients, the winter and spring versions could technically be considered two different dishes altogether.

Italian wedding soup history also has ties with America, where it was eventually brought by Neapolitans. The Americanized version is lighter. Some Americans considered the soup an exclusive winter dish, while others, like many Italians, embraced it in the springtime as well. Lacking the variety of bitter herbs readily available in south-central Italy, the diversity of greens was scaled back and reduced primarily to escarole in the States. The connection to the pork-slaughter ritual dissipated, and small chicken meatballs crept into the equation, as did the addition of pasta, and a new dish, with distinct similarities, emerged.

wedding soup with meatballs

Tips For Making Italian Wedding Soup

  • Broil the meatballs first
  • Make the meatballs small-medium, not too large
  • Only use fresh herbs
  • Use a combination of the two kinds of meats for maximum flavor
  • Use panko or fresh bread crumbs
  • Good quality parmesan is important here, don’t skimp
  • Use only small pasta such as orzo or acini de pepe
  • Greens such as spinach, kale, endive, or escarole all work well in this soup

In the soup world, this wedding soup with meatballs may require a little more prep than some of your average soups, but trust me, it’s worth it. It also counts as a meal, at least in my house. Served with a simple green salad and some freshly baked bread, you really can’t go wrong.

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comment Policy

Simmer + Sauce reserves the right to remove or restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the topic conversation, contain profanity or offensive language, personal attacks, or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Any post found to be in violation of any of these guidelines will be modified or removed without warning. When making a comment on my blog, you grant Simmer + Sauce permission to reproduce your content to our discretion, an example being for a possible endorsement or media kit purposes. If you don’t want your comment to be used for such purposes, please explicitly state this within the body of your comment. If you find evidence of copyright infringement in the comments of, contact me and I will remove that in question promptly.