Sunday, June 30, 2013

Simple Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Kale

I just came back from a month long trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I was born and raised. We have an amazing soup there called Italian Wedding Soup, which, I just found out, is not actually Italian.

At any Italian restaurant (or often any restaurant) in Pittsburgh, you can order a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup. My favorite kind is the light version served at the chain restaurant Olive Garden. Since I was not very cultured and didn't travel much before moving out of Pittsburgh, when I went to the Olive Garden in California I tried ordering Wedding Soup. It's not usually on the menu in Pittsburgh because it's such a popular item and everyone knows it's there--you just have to ask for it. But the California waiter had no idea what I was talking about.

I always thought Italian Wedding Soup was an Italian tradition. Though, apparently, Italian Wedding Soup is a Western Pennsylvania tradition started by immigrants to the area. According to my quick research, Italian Wedding Soup is a mistranslation of a soup called "marriage soup," which is actually Spanish.

Here is a quick version to make in the crock pot using kale instead of the traditional spinach. Italian Wedding Soup is usually made with really tiny meatballs and pasta. Unless you make the meatballs yourself, you might not be able to find them small enough, but you can always cut slightly thawed frozen Italian meatballs into quarters before putting in the crock pot.


1 small package frozen italian meatballs (15-20)
5 oz can low sodium chicken, rinsed and drained
32 oz chicken broth
2 cups kale, stems removed and chopped (can also use spinach)
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup-1/2 cup pastina pasta
parmesan reggiano for serving


1. Add meatballs, chicken, broth, spices, and onion to slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on high for 3 hours.

2. Add pasta and kale (or spinach) to the pot, and cook for an additional hour on high. Serve
topped with parmesan reggiano if desired.