Love (Wedding Soup) and Marriage

February 20 – February 26, 2023

Monday:                      Spring Minestrone with Grated Egg Pasta

Tuesday:                      Pasta Putanesca with Parmigiano Crostini

Wednesday:                Italian Wedding Soup

Please grate your own Parmigiano Reggiano. This is a matter of both taste and the appropriate expenditure of energy.

Thursday:                    Empire Diner Patty Melt with Mock Frîtes

Friday:                         Salmon Fried Rice (my favorite fried rice – Beez inclines toward chicken)

Oysters from Friday night – Giant Eagle sells good oysters!

Saturday:                     Leftover Soup with Parmesan Crostini

Sunday:                        Zuni Roast Chicken w/ Bread Salad

Love (Wedding Soup) and Marriage 

Wedding soup is, honest to God, connected to weddings in Italy.  In some families, one of the prime duties of the mother is to teach her daughters how to make this soup, good cooking being an asset for a marriageable woman.  I understand that Sophia Loren never did master the recipe – but then, she had other assets. 

The problem with the American version of wedding soup is having to make 256 tiny meatballs.  Even Chef Boyardee found this daunting.  I mean, this might have been an acceptable task back in the day – a way to keep busy when there were no crops to harvest or seeds to plant or fences to mend or cows to milk.  But the manufacture of hundreds of tiny meatballs simply does not fit with Twenty-first century schedules.  Ideally, this job should be done by people who have lots of time on their hands – but who wants meatballs hand-formed by prison inmates? 

And yet, we have cooked wedding soup two weeks running, in the middle of the week, at the last minute.  What is our secret – what startling innovation have we discovered that will allow busy lawyers to whip up wedding soup at the end of a long day handling divorce proceedings?  Well – calm down – this innovation is not a world-historic leap forward, like nuclear fusion, the internal combustion engine or the martini, but it is a large step, nonetheless.  It consists in making – wait for it –

larger meatballs. 

I mean, making meatballs is actually kind of fun, but with the tiny ones, after you’ve rolled your 15th ball and it sinks in that you have another 241 to go, your enthusiasm tends to wane.  With this recipe you will have the joy of making about 12 meatballs and finishing the soup in time to see whether the nerd with the nose ring, the mohawk and the neck tatoo continues to win on Jeopardy. 


(adapted from NYT  “Cooking” section – 1/29/23) 

Timing:                                    30 – 45 minutes (I’m not kidding) 

Ingredients:                                             Serves 4-5 

12 cups chicken broth (I have recently discovered Trader Joe’s chicken broth.  It is superb, though if you like a clear broth it won’t do; on the other hand, it’s a lot tastier than the clear broths)

1 pound ground turkey (breast meat preferred here – I like the dark meat for most recipes)

1 ½ cups orzo, ditalini or other small soup pastas [the NYT calls for ¾ cup, but that is far too little to our taste]

3 packed cups baby spinach or kale, thinly sliced

1 lemon zested and halved

¼ cup fresh dill (you can substitute oregano or basil, but dill really complements this soup)

1 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing and serving

½ cup panko bread crumbs

1/3 cup packed parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 – 4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt (you may wish to add more when soup is finished)

½ teaspoon black pepper (you may wish to add more when soup is finished)

½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving


 Chop parsley and spinach or kale – and dill

Mince Garlic

Zest lemon and cut in half

Grate Parmesan

Beat egg

Measure out other ingredients

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and oil lightly.

 Make Meatballs:

 In a large bowl, mix turkey, panko, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, pepper and ½ cup of parmesan.

[A good way to do this is to spread the turkey over the bottom and sides of the bowl, then scatter the other ingredients over it, and, finally, add the egg.  This will make it much easier to distribute the ingredients uniformly and avoid overworking the meat]

Roll the mixture into 12, 2-inch meatballs (or more smaller ones if you like).  Note:  Be gentle here – ground turkey is a pretty soft substance – you ain’t makin’ hamburgers.

 Place the meatballs on the aluminum-foiled backing sheet and roll around to spread oil over the meatballs.

 Heat the broiler to high and place rack 6-8 inches from the heat. 

Cook Soup: 

Combine the chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and bring to a boil. 

Meanwhile, broil the meatballs until brown on two sides – 3-4 minutes per side. 

Add the pasta to the boiling broth, turn heat down to medium and cook until al dente, then lower the heat to a low simmer. 

Now, add the meatballs to the broth and continue simmering on low until warmed through – maybe 4 minutes. 

Remove pot from heat and add the spinach and lemon zest, stirring to wilt the spinach.  Correct seasoning.

Serve soup with 2-3 meatballs per bowl, sprinkled with more parmesan and drizzled with more olive oil if you like and – this is important – squeeze some lemon over the top, then scatter the dill.

The Zuni Cafe Chicken





One thought on “Love (Wedding Soup) and Marriage

  1. Bill,
    While I have never doubted your recipes or advice , hmmm oyster from GE ????? I might be afraid!🤪. Having just enjoyed 6 local blue bells in SC this evening, maybe Pittsburgh is catching up. Yea! And you and David Brand are the only 🦪shucker’s I know!
    See you soon my friend. 🐇💕💙😎

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