This soup is the Italian American version of a hearty traditional soup of meat and greens eaten in the countryside around Rome and Naples at Christmas time. It is called “minestra maritata”. The “wedding”... refers to the happy marriage between meat and lots of green vegetables rather than any Italian life event. And this light version of this marriage is one that’s good for everyone. It uses all chicken to make the meatballs and the super food kale for the greens all in a clear broth. A soothing soup indeed. The original authentic soup was full of different cuts of fresh and cured meats, with meatballs being just one of the ingredients. After it arrived in the US, the soup evolved to be just meatballs and greens and it’s evolving once more, from super hearty to super healthy.
In a bowl, mix together the ground chicken, breadcrumbs, egg, parmesan, oregano, lemon zest, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Form into 1-inch balls.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs until evenly golden brown, they do not need to be cooked all the way through as they will finish cooking in the soup. Transfer the meatballs to a plate covered with a plate lined with paper towels.
Heat the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the kale leaves and the meatballs. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Taste the broth for seasonings then serve.
If more vegetables are desired, add a bigger selection of leafy greens to this soup along with the kale.
Instead of adding grated parmesan to the stock to give it extra ‘umami’, before adding the kale and meatballs, try adding a piece of parmesan rind to the stock and simmering it for 30 minutes until it is soft and sticky. It will add a lot of flavor. For a chewy texture, cut the rind into a small dice and add it back to the soup.