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Italian Wedding Soup

6 September 2022

Contrary to what the name implies, this is not a soup for weddings, but a soup in which the flavours of the veggies and meat marry together by softly simmering for a while. And man oh man what a flavours!

On Saturday I bought parsnips and carrots from the farmers market without actually having a plan what to make with them. I guess I was imagining roasting them. But then…. I was in the mood for soup, and this little flavourful wonder has been on my to cook list for a while!

My secret ingredient: the rind of a parmesan cheese. I always keep this in the freezer just for these kind of dishes. It really adds a rich umami flavour to the broth.

I served it with my super simple Irish Soda Bread.

Italian Wedding Soup

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Dinner Italian, Mediterranean
By Saffron Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes + 30 minutes resting time


  • Meatballs
  • 400 - 500 ground beef & pork mix
  • Small bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 egg
  • 40 g grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Soup
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped into small bitesize pieces
  • 3 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 400 g fresh tomatoes, diced (or us a can of tomatoes)
  • 1.2 liter chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 125 g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • Small bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan rind (optional, only if you have it lying around)


The Meatballs


In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients until everything is mixed.


Roll the meatballs, ± ping pong ball sized.


Heat a good glug of olive oil in a heavy based sauce pan and gently add the meatballs. Fry them until browned on all sides, ± 6-7 minutes. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan, or they will steam instead of going crisp. You'll probably need to do this in 2-3 batches.


They don't need to be cooked all the way through, they will continue to cook in the broth.


Remove from the pan and set aside.

The Soup


Remove some of the oil from the pan, leaving ± 1 tablespoon behind.


Add the onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant and translucent, ± 3 minutes.


Add the carrots and parsnips and continue to sauté for a few minutes, scraping all the brown goodness from the meatballs from the bottom of the pan. ± 6-7 minutes.


Add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes and the parmesan rind (if using) and bring to a boil over medium heat.


Let bubble away for ± 10 minutes with the lid on.


Add the orzo pasta, parsley and spinach and reduce heat to low and simmer until pasta is cooked and vegetables are tender.


Now add the meatballs back to the pan and let simmer for another 5 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.


Taste and season the soup with pepper and salt.


Let the soup stand, with the lid on for 30 minutes so the flavours can marry.


Serve warm with some extra parsley on top and some crunchy fresh bread.


Season soup with salt and pepper and let stand, covered for 30 minutes in order for the flavors to meld. Serve warm.

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