You Don’t Have To Be Italian or at a Wedding To Enjoy This: Italian Wedding Soup (or Escarole Soup)

Italian Wedding Soup (Escarole Soup)

I’ve talked about my sweet ‘ole grandmom, Anna, a few times on this blog. This was a woman who waited tables at the Golden Nugget (now Bally’s Grand) casino (R.I.P.) in Atlantic City until she retired at 76. This is the same woman who would wear winter gloves in the summer because her tiny hands would get cold. Once she angrily blamed the family for “stealing” her gloves, only to open up the dishwasher to unload and found them stuck to a few plates. This was also a woman who would wrap up uneaten meals and sandwiches from her shift at the restaurant and pawn them on us. This was also a woman who was so excited to get 8 free place settings of Golden Nugget-labeled china before it became Bally’s (thank god she did not feature these prominently in her non-existent china cabinet!).

This was also a woman who would cook for her family every night but passed virtually no family recipes on to me. I still get sad that I didn’t push her more to try and remember all her old-school recipes before she died. She loved to say in her deep, raspy voice, “Oh, Amy, ya know I don’t remember how to do that!”. But even into her final years, Anna could still make a few of her classics really, really well, and without a recipe. One of my favorites was her ‘Scarole soup – that’s Italian-American speak for “Escarole Soup” or, as it is often called in my family, Italian Wedding Soup.

When researching about the origins of Italian Wedding Soup I discovered that, duh, this is only loosely based on a traditional Italian soup called Minestra Maritata and has nothing to do with weddings (the name literally means a marriage of soup). Minestra Maritata is a Neapolitan soup made with greens and meat, hence the “marriage” of those two ingredients.

Italian Wedding Soup (Escarole Soup)

In my Italian-American fantasy, my great grandparents on my grandmom’s side came from Naples and brought their Minestra Maritata recipe with them to the new world. Over time, the pieces of meat became tiny meatballs and the greens were the cheap and delicious escarole. Too bad… I’ll never be able to ask my grandmom if my fantasy is true! There are many variations of this soup but, of course, I think Anna’s is the best. You could have this done from start to finish in about 1/2 hour.


Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound minced veal
  • 1/2 pound minced pork
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmegItalian Wedding Soup (Escarole Soup): Meatballs
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (maybe more if mixture is too wet)
  • salt and pepper

Other Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head of escarole, bottom chopped off and greens cleaned (chop in half if you don’t like long greens)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 box ditalini pasta (some people use pastina)

What to do:

  1. To make meatballs: Add all the top ingredients together and mix with hands. Pinch a bit of the mixture and roll into a small ball. Each meatball should not be more than an inch wide.
  2. Heat up a bit of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and fry the baby meatballs on each side – about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and drain on some paper towels.
  3. Meanwhile, in another pot, add a bit of oil and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until a bit softer. Add the chicken stock and keep at a simmer. Add the escarole.
  4. Add the pasta, stir it around and allow to cook in the stock – keep aware of the time so you don’t cause the pasta to go mushy. About two minutes before the pasta is done, add the meatballs back to the pot.
  5. Beat together the two eggs along with the parmigiano reggiano. When pasta is done, kill the heat and slowly add the egg/parmigiano mixture to the soup while stirring.
  6. Serve in big bowls with some crusy bread and a glass of chianti.
  7. Be aware that the pasta keeps soaking up the liquid after cooking, so this is a soup that needs to be eaten immediately. Alternatively, you could cook the pasta separately and add in as much of it as you want to, reserving some for leftovers so they aren’t soggy.

Check out some other posts you may enjoy:

Italian Wedding Soup (Escarole Soup)

37 thoughts on “You Don’t Have To Be Italian or at a Wedding To Enjoy This: Italian Wedding Soup (or Escarole Soup)

  1. I haven’t made this in years.
    My husband LOVES this soup, not because he is Italian!

    I am going to make this for Sunday’s meal.
    Thanks guys for posting it!
    wish I had some right now. It’s cold and damp out there tonight.

  2. Our escarole is finished. I’m going to try it with pan di zucchero, which is a kind of endive that’s not too far off. Shit, now I want meatball soup.

  3. Amy, I enjoyed reading about your grandmother and the real history of wedding soup. I make ‘scarole frequently though I generally stop short of adding the pasta and the eggs which must take it to a richer level. I made a big pot a week or so ago with turkey meatballs and I’ll definitely add eggs and pasta when I defrost one of the leftover containers…maybe tonight.

  4. That’s so interesting how the marriage of ingredients became a wedding soup. This look fantastic… I’ve been seeing so many recipes with escarole lately, but never cook with it. I think it’s a sign from the gods that I must try it!

  5. I’m embarassed to say, the only Italian wedding soup I’ve ever had was canned, and the sausage tasted like dog food. It’d never occurred to me to make it myself until now.

  6. Beyond making the lil’ meatballs – this soup is a cinch and it’s one of my faves since making a home version.

    In these parts, I’ve seen it made with pastina but ditali works for me too.

  7. I’ve always heard of this soup but never had it…now I have to because this looks so good. Also, lol, I feel silly…I never knew the name was about flavor marriage and just assumed it would be commonly served at weddings…

  8. That looks entirely too delicious. I’ve never had escarole before, but perhaps I should try. And I just love reading about people’s grandparents.

    And P.S. Thanks for the nice comment. 🙂 You had a terrific blog.

  9. Italian Wedding Soup is one of my favorites – probably because I like all the wee bitties. Tiny little pearls of pasta (although I like that you used diatlini – that looks great!) mini meatballs, and shreds of greens. Makes me feel all delicate, like.

  10. Hi Chocolate Shavings! Thanks for stopping by!!!

    hey, i’m all for replacing things that you can’t find. I’d say to use swiss chard (white vs. red), maybe beet greens or mustard greens. all of these have a bit of a bitter taste and the aren’t too thick that they won’t break down well in the soup. Good luck!!! it’s so delicious.

  11. Wow. This looks so good!
    That’s the perfect food for cold and damp weather. I think we’re gonna need lots of recipes like this one for the winter ahead. I really, really love your food!

  12. yum! I am definitely going to make this! A grocery store near me often has Italian Wedding soup as part of their soup/salad bar — I always eye it, but have never gotten it (usually because I am buying groceries not lunch!) Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. The details you gave about your grandma paint such a vivid picture of her! She sounds lovely–and I particularly like the bit where she tells you she doesn’t remember how to make something. That’s totally how the good cooks are, isn’t it? They just make it, no recipe, and it’s even hard to explain.

  14. This is the BEST Italian Wedding soup this side of the Atlantic. I will treasure this recipe (already know it by heart) forever and hand it down with enthusiasm. GREAT SOUP!!!!!!

  15. Hi, Nancy. Thank you SO much for the kind words. I’m so happy you made the dish and are pleased w/ the results. It makes me feel good that someone else out there is eating Grandmom’s soup. Enjoy and thanks again.

  16. Thanks for the delicious recipe (and backstory). Made it tonight and it was REALLY YUMMY!! Never had cooked escarole before, quite nice. Even our 2 year old gobbled it up!

  17. Thanks for posting this. My grandmother was from South Philly and recently passed away, and I never got the scarole soup recipe from her…I just thought I would google “scarole soup recipe” and see if anyone else called it that as well! 🙂 I’ll be making it this week!

  18. Yum…. my mom always made this, but without the beaten egg. We would always add Romano cheese and black pepper at the table. I’ll have to try this recipe too!

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