The poetically-named soup, "minestra maritata," has caused its share of confusion over the years. Translated, the phrase means "marriage soup," because of its pairing of greens with meat. Over the years, however, the combination of chicken stock, meatballs, greens and sometimes pasta became known as Italian wedding soup. When you're arranging this marriage of food items in your own stockpot, use the freshest and best-quality ingredients to ensure the wedding is a happy one.
Blend the meatball mixture. Use 1 egg yolk for every 1/2 pound ground meat, along with a couple of spoonsful each of grated cheese and bread crumbs, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
Form the ground meat mixture into 1/2-inch balls, and set the meatballs aside.
Cook pasta in boiling water. Use the lower end of the time range indicated on the package. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Chop a large bunch of cooking greens, using a rough chop. Escarole is a traditional choice, but you can also use kale, chard, curly endive or spinach. Set aside the greens.
Assemble the soup. Bring 3 or 4 quarts chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the uncooked meatballs and chopped greens into the chicken stock, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and the greens have wilted. Add a ladle or two of cooked pasta just before bringing the soup off the heat.
Ladle the soup into individual bowls, making sure each bowl has four or five meatballs. Garnish with additional grated cheese and chopped parsley, if desired.
Variations abound with Italian wedding soup. Some cooks add carrots, or even shredded chicken after making the soup's broth from a whole bird. Pasta is also optional. It can be omitted altogether, or replaced with a ribbon of cooked egg yolk.