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Italian Wedding Season (and Soup...)

posted May 12, 2009, 7:26 AM by Guy Barbato
well... after attending a wedding this weekend, and coming to work only to find that the was 'italian wedding soup'.. i need to rant.


here's the deal: once upon a time, a longlonglongtime ago, in a land ohsofaraway, the people had leftover cured meats in the winter and the only thing growing outside was dark green, leafy plants. the meat was too tough and the greens too bitter. in a fit of inspiration, both were soaked in boiling water -- adding whatever else was lying around -- and, velò, a perfect marriage (or, maritata). there's also probably a little play on words from the italian word for soup, minestra -- i'll let you figure it out. since this was italy... once in the states, the name was bastardized into 'italian wedding soup'. duh. no italian weddings at all. but, great soup!! read on: here are two of my favorites, and not a crappy little meatball between them!!!

one last note: i ALWAYS use more crushed red pepper than the recipes call for.....
so it goes.

Sausage And Escarole Soup

Yield: 8 Servings

2 Pounds Italian Sausage, Cut Into ½" Pieces
2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoon Garlic, Sliced
5 Cups Water
1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
4 Cup Escarole
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Fry the sausage with 3 or 4 tablespoons of water (yes, H2O -- trust me) until nicely browned and mostly cooked. Add garlic and red pepper, sauteing briefly. Drain fat and set aside.

Bring water to a boil on the stove and add salt and peppers to the water. Meanwhile, rinse escarole thoroughly, and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. While stirring, add escarole to the water and simmer for 10 minutes (not too long or the escarole will get mushy -- more on this later). Add the escarole to the pan that has the drained sausage, adding sufficient water to make it as 'soupy' as you want -- I like the consistency of a thick soup. If possible, use chicken stock instead of water, it's much tastier. Cook for 5 minutes, adjust seasoning and serve. Having said that, my father (and grandfather before him) LOVES this soup with an added can of cannellini beans (i.e., great northern beans), and served the next day -- when everything is REALLY mushy (Editorial note: Yuck!). To each his/her own.

Per Serving (without beans): 403 Cal (80% from Fat, 17% from Protein, 3% from Carb); 17 g Protein; 36 g Tot Fat; 13 g Sat Fat; 16 g Mono Fat; 3 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 46 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 2608 mg Sodium; 86 mg Cholesterol; AccuPoints = 11.0


Yield: 8 Servings

1 Pounds Chicken Breast, Cooked/Sliced
7 Cup Chicken Stock
6 Egg, Beaten
1/2 Cup Ditalini
1/4 Cup Parmesan, Grated
2 Cup Fresh Spinach, Chopped
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Onion, Chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
2 Tablespoon Garlic, Minced

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic, onion and red pepper until translucent. If your chicken breast is uncooked, or there is no meat left over from making the chicken stock, then you can slice the chicken breast into thin strips and saute the meat in the onion mixture at this time.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil adding the dilatini (feel free to use your own favorite pasta shape!). When the pasta is nearly cooked, beat the eggs and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. While stirring the boiling soup in a circular fashion, drizzle the egg mixture into the soup. This will turn the eggs into broad 'shreds' or 'rags' (the English translation of 'stracciatella') and adjust seasoning. At this point, add the chopped spinach (you can substitute escarole or even frozen spinach), until heated through. Serve with extra cheese on the side. [as a possible variation for this dish, prior to adding the pasta, you can also add a 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes.]

Per Serving: 277 Cal (43% from Fat, 43% from Protein, 13% from Carb); 29 g Protein; 13 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 6 g Mono Fat; 9 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 95 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 897 mg Sodium; 209 mg Cholesterol; AccuPoints = 6.5