Minestra Maritata (aka Italian Wedding Soup or Italian Meatball Soup)

It was a balmy 6 degrees outside when we woke up this morning. The day’s high temp registered at 22 degrees. It’s freezing here in New York to say the least. And when it’s freezing we cook and eat soup … and lots of it.

I had some ground beef out defrosting so I clicked on over to and did a search for soups. The first to catch my eye was an Italian Meatball Soup referred to in Italian as Minestra Maritata. Little meatballs, greens, small pasta shapes …  I knew it was something my kids would love.  In fact, I was sure it was a soup any kid would love which is why I immediately thought of the Kids’ Cooking Academy presented by Frigidaire

If you haven’t already heard of this promotion, Frigidaire has created a web site, Kids’ Cooking Academy, featuring recipes, daily tips and how-to videos all designed to get kids involved in the kitchen. You can join the Academy and Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children plus you’ll be entered to win some prizes being offered in daily drawings. Frigidaire will even donate an additional $1 every time you visit the Kids’ Cooking Academy through April 25, 2011.

This soup is definitely something kids will enjoy eating when you alone make it for them, but just imagine how much more they’d enjoy it if they had a hand in making it too? My daughter helped out by washing the vegetables, stirring the broth and vegetables as they cooked and I even had her shape the beef mixture into the mini meatballs she and her brother would later ask for seconds of.  

There were lots of “mmms” and “yums” exuding from their little mouths as they ate and they even used a straw to sip the broth once they’d polished off the flavorful meatballs, pasta and veggies. But my daughter didn’t hesitate to ask, ”This is spinach, right Mommy?”  Heaven forbid I said the escarole greens were not in fact spinach–she’d without a doubt get irked by hearing  a new veggie’s name … what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her–I quickly answered “Yup, of course it is!” So that she picked up a heaping spoonful and gulped the soup down … “Mmmm, my hair is already shiny, but now it’s getting even shinier, right?  My friend doesn’t eat any vegetables and her hair is never shiny. You see how mine is Mommy?”

**I’m submitting this recipe to Souper Sundays hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.

Minestra Maritata (aka Italian Wedding Soup or Italian Meatball Soup)
Adapted from a recipe on

1/2 head escarole (about 1/2 pound), washed well and cut into 1-in. pieces
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
2  large carrots, chopped
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

4 ounces small shaped pasta (elbow, tubetti, ditalini)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the Meatballs
1 pound ground veal or beef
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Small onion, very finely minced
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine the escarole, carrots, spinach leaves, parsley, crushed red pepper, water and stock in a large pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the greens are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs by combining the ground meat, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Shape the mixture into tiny balls, LESS than an inch in diameter.

When the greens and carrots are almost tender, stir in the pasta and return the soup to a brisk simmer. Drop the meatballs into the soup, then cover the pot, lower the heat and cook, stirring gently, about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve hot with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled over top if so desired.

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26 Responses to “Minestra Maritata (aka Italian Wedding Soup or Italian Meatball Soup)”

  1. Rosa says:

    Scrumptious looking! That minestra is so tempting.



  2. This soup sounds so yummy with the pasta and the meatballs in it!

  3. The soup looks wonderful~ I have not cooked soup with pasta in a long time and now you have reminded me of how great they are.

  4. mmm…i’m definitely making this for dinner for the next couple days. i have all the ingredients, and all i’ve been wanting is soup this winter!

    your daughter sounds like a sweetie! =)

  5. Πολύ ωραία σούπα! Ιδιαίτερα σήμερα που κάνει λίγο κρύο!!! Ευχαριστώ

  6. Peter says:

    That’s a bowl of comfort right there…pass some more cheese please!

  7. Delicious Maria…I haven’t made this before but I have bookmarked IT for the cooler months. Love your daughter’s response!…LOL!

  8. Ivy says:

    It’s -1 C here in Athens today, so this would be a perfect.

  9. Ivy says:

    Oops, you know what I mean… a perfect soup on a cold day like this one.

  10. A balmy 2C here in London today and I’ve got some great crusty Italian bread…Can’t wait to sop up some minestra with it…

  11. eirini says:

    agapimeno faghto, mou to thimises kai tha to ftiaxw amesa!Fenete pentanostimo!

  12. Joanne says:

    Did you guys hear that thunder during the snowstorm last night? Crazy stuff.

    This soup looks like the ultimate comfort food to me since my grandmother used to make something just like it!

  13. I’ve seen this soup around before but never got to make it. It looks good for such cold days as those you’re having over there in NY. It’s cold here too!

  14. It’s COLD here and the soup is just perfectly delicious and heartwarming for this time of year!

  15. DebinHawaii says:

    One of my favorite soups–who doesn’t love little meatballs?! ;-) Looks delicious. Thank you for joining in with Souper Sundays–I hope this won’t be your last visit. ;-)



  16. Cherine says:

    I love this soup!! Looks so delicious!

  17. Adele Forbes says:

    That sounds so divine and love your pictures..thank you so much for sharing

  18. DVG says:

    Thank you for reminding me to make my favorite soup! Yum.

  19. This looks delicious! I used to make a soup similar to this when I worked in a cafe several years ago, this totally brings back delicious memories! Thank you! Congrats on making the Top 9 today!

  20. Annie says:

    Eating this NOW and it is excellent. Minor tweaks included using frozen chopped collard greens instead of the suggested greens due to how the fresh stuff looked in the store today, and the un-Italian addition of mushrooms, simply because dear hubby loves them so much. I also cooked the pasta separately, this pot will take a few days to eat and we don’t like mushy pasta, so we’ll add the cooked macaroni as we go. Thanks for posting!

  21. Krissyp says:

    I am on a soup kick this week and will be making this one tomorrow night. I grew up on italian wedding soup, but I like your version with the addition of spinach and carrots. I made a tortellini soup from Savour The Senses blog this evening…that was wonderful too. Thanks for sharing.

  22. admin says:

    Annie: I’m glad you’ll be adding the cooked macaroni as you go because when I heated the leftovers up the next day the elbow macaroni was in fact mushier than I would really like! But we ate it anyway … though it’s a great idea to boil and add the pasta as needed if there are going to be leftovers. Thanks so much for trying this and stopping by to let me know!

  23. Julie says:

    This looks delicious. It would be perfect for dinner tonight. It’s cold and snowy here.

  24. maria says:

    more deliciousness exuding from the screen – meatballs are a simple but winning favorite the world over

  25. Olena says:

    I made this soup last Monday, just before the temperatures dipped to -20C here in Canada.

    YUM! So good, even on day two. I lightened up the recipe a little and used cappelletti pasta. Perfect as a complete low-fat high-protein meal. Thank you for introducing me to escarole :)

  26. admin says:

    So glad you liked it Olena! It’s the perfect winter soup I think.

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