Italian Wedding Soup

Italian wedding soup got its name from the Italian phrase si sposono bene, meaning that two things are well married. The marriage of the greens and meat in clear broth is such a delightful combination that it was widely described as si sposono bene, hence the English name “Italian wedding soup.” Historically, the soup actually had nothing to do with weddings in Italy, but has become a very popular tradition at Italian weddings in the United States.

There are hundreds of variation on the recipe, but the soup usually contains greens such as spinach, escarole or broccoli rabe; meatballs that might include chicken, turkey and beef; and orzo in a chicken broth.

Italian Wedding Soup Recipe


½ lb. Ground pork or turkey (or ¼ lb of each)
½ lb. Ground beef (the leaner the better)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1-1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
12 cups chicken broth
4 cups chopped escarole
2 cup broccoli rabe or spinach
1-1/2 cups orzo or ditalini pasta
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine the meats, egg, 1 cup of the grated parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley and add salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to mix the ingredients well and form small meatballs, no more than 1 inch in diameter.

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the meatballs to the chicken broth and cook until meatballs are almost done (this will vary by the size of your meatballs – about 10 minutes for ½ in diameter, up to 25 for larger meatballs – remove one and cut it open to test for doneness). Scoop off any foam that formed, and add the orzo and greens to the pot. Cook for about 8 more minutes, or until the pasta is tender.

Ladle into individual bowls for serving, and add a heaping spoonful of parmesan cheese to the top of each.

Italian Wedding Traditions

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