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Minestra maritata, or “wedding soup,” traditionally included different cuts of pork and a big variety of vegetables, which were slowly simmered together until the ingredients were pronounced “married.” Here, in a streamlined version of this classic southern Italian soup, pork meatballs are cooked with a handful of fresh hearty vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 3 quarts chicken broth  
  • 1 lb. cavolo nero, dinosaur kale, escarole or other greens, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces 
  • 3 large carrots, chopped 
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped 
  •   

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground pork 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion 
  • 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs 
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese 
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, plus more, to taste  
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil 
  •   
  • Grated pecorino romano cheese for serving 

Directions:

In a large soup pot, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the greens, carrots and celery, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the pork, eggs, onion, bread crumbs, cheese, the 1 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper and mix well. Moisten your hands and shape the mixture into small balls, handling them gently. As they are formed, place them on a plate.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. When all the meatballs are ready, gently add them to the pan and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the meatballs to the simmering soup and simmer gently over low heat until they are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with grated cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).