When I first heard the name of the soup for the first time I wondered – as I suppose many have – why and how the soup acquired its name. I thought, well, it must have been a soup that originated in Italy for one; and two, it must have been a very special soup served at weddings in celebration of amore. After reading a little about its history, I discovered that I was right on the first point – it did originate in Italy but I was wrong on the “wedding” part.
The wedding part of it is in Italian, si maritano bene. In English, it means simply that the ingredients (the meat and greens) are “well married.” The soup is a very old dish and is thought to have originated from the Spanish dish olla podrida. There are a number of variations on the recipes, but the two that most are familiar with are the Italian and the American version. The Italian version uses a variety of meats, whereas the American version uses mainly meatballs. The greens added can be either escarole or spinach.
The version I made was the American version, using homemade meatballs and spinach.
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil (I used some in the soup as well)
1 teaspoon garlic
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 1/2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups spinach – packed rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup orzo pasta
3/4 cups diced carrots
1 or 2 celery stalks
diced green onion.
Mix ground beef, bread crumbs, basil, eggs, onions, parmesan cheese together in bowl, and then form into small ball.
Pan fry meat balls ( I prefer to do it this way)
Saute diced carrots, celery, green onion, and garlic in a bit of oil in the soup pot.
Add chicken stock and bring to a rolling boil
Cook for ten minutes or so.
Unless you plan on using all of the soup at one meal, I would recommend that you cook orzo separately. This is because the orzo will expand and become “mushy” if left in the soup for leftovers.
The soup was very good the first meal, but when I served it as a leftover the next day it was even BETTER…Delizioso! 🙂