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Minestra maritata (Married soup) recipe

Minestra maritata (Married soup) recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef soup

This Italian soup is also known as wedding soup. It's a delicious soup. Serve with grated Parmesan.

760 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 225g lean minced beef
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1.3 litres chicken stock
  • 100g thinly sliced kale or escarole
  • 200g uncooked orzo pasta
  • 50g finely chopped carrot

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:50min

  1. In medium bowl, combine beef, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, basil and onion powder; shape into 1.75cm balls.
  2. In large saucepan, heat stock to boiling; stir in kale, orzo pasta, chopped carrot and meatballs.
  3. Return to the boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook at slow boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(894)

Reviews in English (687)


After reading everyone elses reviews this is what I did to make the best Italian wedding soup I've EVER tasted. First I used about 7 cups of broth. 6 cups of chicken broth, 1 can of beef broth. The beef broth DEFINITELY adds that extra punch this soup needs. Definitely only use 1/2 cup of orzo, and boil in a seperate pot. I threw some green onions in. With the 7 cups of broth, it was enough for 4 people, + 1 days leftovers, which you'll definitely want! Next time I'll bake the meatballs before hand to get some of the grease off.-10 Dec 2006

by RookieCook

My late grandmother came from the Old country, and I've used this recipe as a basis for replicating her recipe, but a few adjustments are critical.First, the pasta must be cooked separately; otherwise, it thickens and ruins the soup. If you don't plan on leftovers, the pasta can be cooked in the soup, but you need to go easy on the amount of pasta. She always preferred alphabet pasta.Second, she always used either ground turkey or chicken for the meatballs. Also, you need to take it easy on the spices in the meatballs because they can easily overpower the milder flavor of poultry. (By the way, why would anyone use ground beef in a chicken stock--it doesn't make sense, not to mention it isn't authentic.)Third, she used celery in her recipe. I add a couple of stalks, finely diced. I also up the amount of carrots.Finally, for an added touch, she always had hard-boiled eggs available for individuals to add, as they chose. It enriches the flavor and texture.This recipe is very good--with these few tweaks. Thanks for sharing it.-11 Nov 2006


I made a few changes to this recipe:- Reduce pasta to 1/2 cup (You can use orzo, small shells, ditalini, orecchiette...)- Brown meatballs in a little olive oil and drain before adding to soup. (Gives meatballs better color and flavor, and makes soup less greasy!)- I increased carrots to 1/2 cup, and sauteed with 1/2 cup onion in a little olive oil to start. I always saute vegetables in soup pot first, before adding broth. (Again, better flavor.)- I use spinach or escarole; both are yummy!-23 May 2006

"Married" soup (Minestra maritata) from 1,000 Italian Recipes by Michele Scicolone

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  • broccoli
  • broccoli rabe
  • carrots
  • celery
  • escarole
  • pork ribs
  • prosciutto
  • Italian sausages
  • dried red pepper flakes
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • sopressata sausages

Always check the publication for a full list of ingredients. An Eat Your Books index lists the main ingredients and does not include 'store-cupboard ingredients' (salt, pepper, oil, flour, etc.) - unless called for in significant quantity.

Minestra Maritata - Wedding Soup

While wedding soup is known to Italian-Americans, it might not have the connotation they think it has. Contrary to popular thought, it's not served at weddings. Rather, it's called "maritata" - married, because the ingredients "marry" well together to create a harmonious dish! It's a Neapolitan tradition, and an old one, at that. It dates back a few centuries, to one-pot meals that were filling and the only meal of the day for most households. It combines broth with a type of meat (most commonly sausage pieces or tiny meatballs) and greens, thus making it a hearty and nutritious soup. Drop a parmigiano rind or pecorino rind into the simmer pot to add a little extra flavor, if you have one. Some cooks add a handful of rice or pastina (tiny pasta) to it, for added oomph.

You can use vegetable or meat broth as the base. Put a big pot of it on. Then add the following three groups:

Group 1 - Soffritto (or odori)

In a skillet, add some olive oil and saute some diced celery, carrot, onion, and garlic until soft.

Group 2 - The Greens

Add a good quantity of greens of your choice - rapini, chard, chicory, escarole or kale all work well. Just wash them well, roughly chop them, then throw it all into the stock pot. Cover and let simmer to cook the greens. Some people add broccoli flourets, too.

Group 3 - The Meat

If you want sausage, buy a good quality Italian sausage (either sweet or spicy, whichever you prefer). Cut it into small pieces (called bocconcini) and put them into the soup. If you prefer the tradition of meatballs, the recipe follows. Form them into pebble sized balls, not too big! Put the meatballs into the pot to cook in the broth.

about 1/3 pound of ground beef or veal
1 Italian sausage link
about 1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
a handful of breadcrumbs
1 small egg

Mix it all together and form into small marble-sized meatballs.

Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!

Haven't visited yet? Have questions about Minestra Maritata - Wedding Soup? Ask them here!

A delicious Italian Wedding Soup Recipe – Minestra Maritata

This Italian Wedding Soup Recipe is called Minestra Maritata (translates to “married soup”), but contrary to what you might think, it has nothing to do with an Italian wedding. The wedding ‘marriage’ is simply referring to the perfect union, an ideal balance, of greens and meat.

Minestra Maritata is traditionally prepared in the regions of Lazio and Campania, where they will use an assortment of dark greens, vegetables, and whatever meat is available. This could include ham, beef, pork or ribs.

I typically use spinach, arugula, onions, and carrots because these items are commonly in my kitchen. I like to use tiny pasta like acini di pepe because it doesn’t upstage the other ingredients, and for the meat I like to use my Italian Meatball Recipe, which uses a mixture of ground beef and pork. Some recipes will have chunks of ham or beef, and even red or white beans. Again this is all about your own personal tastes and what you have on hand.

As in real life, all marriages are unique, and that goes for Italian Wedding Soup recipes too. See what’s in your fridge and find what makes your taste buds happy. Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup: Minestra Maritata (with Meatballs and Acini di Pepe)

A rich and flavorful broth, hearty meatballs, cooked greens, and tiny pasta are married together in this simplified recipe for minestra maritata, also known as Italian wedding soup.

You have to make it happen. – Denis Diderot

Some days it’s all I can do to survive, to get from daybreak to bedtime. I go through the motions, splitting myself into more than one person, cataloging the day’s activities and needs and lists and crossing things off one by one. Before I even dress, I’m up and cooking, asking the kids if they remembered their library books, reading spelling words off to one as I sign planners and help others with last-minute homework questions while I spoon warmed liquids into thermal containers and slice oranges so their citrus scent fills the air.

I kiss them goodbye, wish them well on their day, and then cram as much work as I possibly can into the next five hours before my time runs out and they return again. In the afternoon hours the clock seems to move at a much quicker rate than it does in the morning, when I’m clutching my cup of coffee and my perception of time is long and languid. Before I’m ready the light slips away, the kids rush through the door – a flurry of coats and backpacks and winter air, and I’m already late with dinner.

I took some time off in December. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been planned, plotted, and used as a break. Instead, I need to put a ball down in order to keep the others moving – the client variety, the family variety, the life variety. Thank you for noticing, for your kind words of concern, and for waiting for me to pick up the ball and start juggling it again.

Italian wedding soup has nothing to do with weddings. Minestra maritata translates to “married soup,” and it’s about the marrying of meat and greens, not getting hitched yourself. I’ll fully advocate pairing these two things together, especially in the midst of winter, grey skies and all. I need a bit of green in my everyday.

My minestra maritata is a bit on the simple side. I use only two kinds of meat in my meatballs, a bit of pancetta or bacon, and I am 100% okay just using the stock that I have tucked away in my freezer from chicken or beef or pork or whatever I happen to have on hand. My greens are completely of the “what’s going bad in the refrigerator” variety: a bit of kale, a bit of curly endive, and some spinach. I want this to be an everyday soup that feels a bit special, but doesn’t take much more time to get to the table.

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Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup), with recipe

When most people think of Italian Wedding Soup, they understandably associate it with weddings. Sounds logical, right? Well, what if I told you that this popular Italian dish has nothing to do with weddings at all? Yes, it’s true. Before you scoff, let me explain.

The Italian name for this soup is Minestra Maritata, which literally translates into “married soup” in English. Therein lies the confusion. Somewhere along the way, the incorrect assumption was made that this soup was created to be served at wedding feasts. In fact, “married soup” actually refers to the harmonious marriage of flavors of the ingredients within the soup, and not the venue in which is it served.

Minestra Maritata is a traditional Neapolitan soup containing greens and meat in a clear broth. It is an extremely old dish that is thought to be of Roman origin. The original version of this soup was quite heavy, containing lots of different meats and leafy green vegetables. It was intended to be a hearty and filling meal. The more modern and “Americanized” version is much lighter, replacing the boiled meats with mini meatballs. Many variations also include pasta.

This version of Italian Wedding Soup is the one I grew up on. It's made with a light chicken stock and includes pasta, spinach and the most fluffy, melt-in-your mouth mini meatballs. The airiness and lovely texture of these meatballs is due to two things. First, I use ground veal to make them, instead of ground beef. Second, I don’t fry or bake the meatballs before adding them to the soup. Instead, I gently simmer them in the stock. I also use panko crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs, which can sometimes make the meatballs a little dense and dry.

Although you can always make a homemade chicken stock if you have the time and inclination, canned broth works just fine. What you'll end up with is a delightful and flavorful soup that would make a perfect first course for any meal. You could even serve it at a wedding, if you wanted to. But the nice thing is, you can enjoy it any time you want!

Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup)

1/2 pound finely ground pork (or chicken)

3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (more if needed)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 quarts homemade chicken stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth or a combination of the two

1 pound fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped (or one package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry)

1 batch of uncooked meatballs (see above)

1/2 pound cooked small pasta, such as acini di pepe or tubettini

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Gently mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Don’t overwork it. Using teaspoon-sized scoops, form the meat mixture into small balls about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Bring the stock or broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Carefully add the meatballs, one by one, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Do not stir the pot at this point or you’ll risk breaking up the meatballs! Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.

Add the spinach and continue to simmer until wilted, about 2-3 minutes more.

Add the cooked pasta to the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.

Make Ahead Italian Wedding Soup

You can make this entire soup a day or two ahead. As with most soups, this Italian wedding soup is even better the next day. However, if making ahead, hold back cooking the pasta until ready to serve.

To store leftovers: Place any leftovers in a tight-lid container and store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If possible, scoop out the pasta and store separately.

To reheat leftovers: Reheat desired amount in a saucepan over medium low heat, until warmed through. Add additional water or broth, if necessary.

Join me today as we make Minestra, an Italian soup commonly made with Beans and Greens. This traditional soup is easy to make, and it’s packed with nutrition and flavor!

* Affiliates note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My videos and blog posts may contain affiliate links to products and services. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. It does not affect the price you pay.

What Does Minestra Mean?

You might chuckle when you learn that the meaning of the Italian word Minestra simply means soup! But if you know a little Italian, you might be saying, “Hold on there, Mary. Zuppa means soup in Italian!” And you would be right.

The term Minestra is actually quite a bit older—linguistically speaking—than the word Zuppa. And while I say quite a bit older, I mean by a few centuries! The word Minestra is from the Latin word Ministrare which means “to administer.” It referred to a meal that was served—administered—out of one bowl or one pot by the head of the household. In essence, it was a one-pot meal. Centuries ago, while the wealthy of Italy might have had multiple course meals, the poor had a one-course meal, and it was often a Minestra.

Many Households, Many Minestras!

Today, the term Minestra can refer to many different types of soups. And often after the word Minestra, you might see another word tagged on to give you some idea of what type of soup it is. An example of this is Minestra Maritata—or Italian Wedding Soup—which is similar to the basic Minestra but with the addition of little meatballs.

Throughout Italy, every region (and actually quite often every household) has its own version of Minestra. But even though there are many versions, the soups commonly referred to as Minestra are made with some type of white bean and tender bitter green. Given that this is an Italian soup, the beans are often cannellini beans, and the greens are escarole.

Thanks to all the variations, Minestra is the type of soup that can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature. You can even serve it cold, making Minestra the perfect four-season soup!

Where Does Zuppa Fit In?

The term Zuppa, which also translates to mean soup, refers more to a broth than a hearty soup. To serve Zuppa, cooks usually place a piece of bread in a bowl and ladle the soup over it. Often, a stale piece of bread will do. This Zuppa or brothy soup never contains pasta or rice. And just like the linguistic history of Minestra, Zuppa has its own history. It is derived from the word suppa, which means “soaked bread.”

I have to share a little bit of food history—which you know I love! But be warned, this history might offend our modern-day sanitary sensibilities!

During the Middle Ages, servants would serve food to the nobility on pieces of bread, known in English as “trenches.” The bread absorbed the juices of the food placed on them. After the nobles finished their meals, the servants would use these trenches, which were often soaked with meat juices, as the bread for their zuppas!

So as you can see, both Minestra and Zuppa were “Cucina Povera.” Technically, Cucina Povera means “poor cooking,” but it is generally translated as “peasant cooking.”

If this simple Italian home cooking is something you are interested in learning more about, be sure to read one of my favorite cookbooks on the subject titled Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera by Loukie Werle.

The Minestra I Grew Up With

Having a mom of Northern Italian heritage, we ate a lot of Italian food. And specifically the foods of Northern Italy, including:

  • Mostarda di Frutta
  • Panettone
  • Polenta
  • Risotto
  • Torrone
  • And more!

Although the original Minestra most likely originated as a southern Italian dish, my mom, like most Italians, had a version of Minestra she liked best. Her version consisted of the simple combination of cannellini beans and escarole in a rich chicken broth. She flavored her soup with onions, garlic, and butter, topped off with a healthy grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

This Minestra recipe is truly simple and nutritious home cooking at its best. And it is very budget-friendly—Cucina Povera!

Easy Minestra Recipe Substitutions

In my recipe video where I show you how to make Minestra, I share some options for the type of beans and the kind of greens you can use. So don’t worry if you don’t have the specific ingredients on hand.

As I described earlier, Minestra has many variations from region to region in Italy as well as from household to household. Being of Northern Italian heritage, my mom used A LOT of butter in her cooking. (Julia Child would have loved her!) But in the version I share here, I go all-in with the Mediterranean Diet and use olive oil. But either fat will work.

And don’t worry if you don’t have any beans on hand! Even my mom occasionally substituted rice (a Northern Italian twist) when she forgot to soak her beans! So use what you have, and you will enjoy a very flavorful and comforting soup.

How to Make Beans VERY Digestible!

If you have been hesitant to eat beans because you have difficulty digesting them, I have two important tips to share with you. First, if you are starting with dry beans, soaking them for an extended period can significantly increase their digestibility.

In my How to Cook Dried Beans video, I show you how you can soak any type of bean and then how to cook it—the right way—for maximum digestibility.

Second, you can go one step further to increase the digestibility of your beans and maximize their nutrient absorption. In the following tutorial video, I show you how to soak and sprout beans. I also share a little tip as to why it really makes a difference as to what season you choose to try and sprout your beans.

Using Chicken Bone Broth in Your Recipe

As I show you in my recipe video, you can make your Beans and Greens Soup with a base of Chicken Bone Broth. Check out the videos below where I show you three different ways to make Chicken Bone Broth with nothing more than chicken scraps in the slow cooker, on the stovetop, or in the Instant Pot.

Using a Mineral Broth instead of Chicken Broth

If you would like to keep your Minestra vegetarian, watch my recipe video on how to create a tasty and nutritious vegetable mineral broth.

Make Home Baked Bread for Your Soup

When it comes to Minestra, you have to bake some delicious, fresh bread to serve alongside it! So why not try a simple Batter Bread that can be ready in 90 minutes from start to finish? This no-knead, yeast-risen bread is wonderful hot right out of the oven or toasted later for a delicious crunch.

More Italian Recipes

If you would like to learn how to make two traditional Northern Italian classics, check out the videos below where I share how to make an easy Polenta and a hearty show stopper Chickpea and Pork Rib Soup. Your family and friends will be clamoring for more!

Here are some more of the Italian recipes that I grew up with and that I am so happy to share with you:

Stay in Touch with Mary’s Nest

  1. Subscribe to My YouTube Channel for Traditional Foods Videos (Free) - When you subscribe, be sure to click on the notification bell that will let you know each time I upload a new video.


Struffoli are tiny fritters, bathed in honey syrup and scattered with candied fruits and diavolilli – hundreds and thousands. They personify the kitsch, the childishness and the sweetness of the south.

MAKES DOZENS (they are very small)
For the fritters:
plain flour 400g
salt a pinch
sugar 4 tbsp
baking powder ½ tsp
eggs 4 large or 5 medium
booze (grappa, limoncello, brandy, etc) 2 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
orange grated zest of 1
lemon grated zest of 1
vegetable oil for deep frying

For the syrup:
honey 300g
sugar 150g
water 50ml
diced candied citron or mixed peel 70g
diced candied orange peel or mixed peel 70g
toasted flaked almonds 100g
orange grated zest of 1

To garnish:
hundreds and thousands 100g
candied fruits – cherries (halved), orange peels (in slivers), etc a few more
anything else you fancy that is sickeningly sweet and improbably coloured

Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Start with the fritters. First make the dough – bring together all the ingredients, knead until just fully incorporated, and leave to rest for half an hour.

Divide it into four parts, and roll each one into a 1-1.5cm wide sausage. Cut this into 1cm lengths, and roll these into balls, as even and spherical as you can manage.

Fry these (you’ll need to do so in four batches, so fry one batch while you roll and shape the next) in hot oil – 180C – for a good 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until a deep golden brown.

As the last batch is frying, prepare the syrup. In a wide pan (a deep frying pan or wok is ideal), combine the honey, sugar and water. Cook over a high heat until it foams and the bubbles then die down, and add the struffoli (fritters), candied fruits, almonds and orange zest. Stir over the heat until thoroughly coated, and the syrup is thick enough to stick to the fritters and not fall to the bottom of the pan.

Turn off the heat, and pile the sticky mass high on a cool plate.

Decorate the struffoli with the hundreds and thousands, extra candied fruits, and anything else that’s sickeningly sweet and brightly coloured that takes your fancy.

Allow the struffoli to cool completely before serving. They keep well, so you can make them well before your meal – even the morning before your dinner.

Watch the video: Video Ricetta Pasqua: Minestra Maritata - Ricetta tipica Campana


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