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Italian Wedding Soup (Minestra Maritata)
2¾ hours (45 minutes active)
The name of the dish on which this recipe is based is minestra maritata, which translates from the Italian as “married soup.” It is not the Italian wedding soup of meatballs, greens and pasta that’s popular in the U.S., though the two do share similarities. At the family-owned restaurant La Tavernetta Vittozzi in Naples, we were taught how to make the Campanian version of the classic dish, and we used the lessons learned for our own adaptation. As in Naples, the meats in our recipe are bone-in cuts of beef and pork that give the broth richness and body. But for easier eating, after cooking we shred the meat and discard the bones. Pancetta also simmers in the mix along with a piece of Parmesan rind, each lending even more savoriness to the broth. La Tavernetta Vittozzi uses three different varieties of wintry greens in their minestra maritata—cabbage, broccoli rabe and escarole, the latter two blanched separately before they are added to the soup. (This “marriage” of cooked greens and broth is what gives the dish its name.) To streamline, we opt for rabe or escarole (or a combination, if it suits you) and we simmer the vegetable directly in the broth. Rabe offers an assertive bitterness that nicely balances the richness of the soup; escarole is milder and cooks down to a silky, supple texture. Warm, crusty bread is the perfect accompaniment.
8ounces pancetta, chopped
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil