Italian Wedding Soup

Joanna Estrada is a special needs teacher living in Los Angeles, California. She is 60 years old and has three daughters. Joanna has lived in Southern California since birth, moving from Redondo Beach to Torrance in her mid-twenties. Her father was Irish and her mother was Italian; as such, she grew up surrounded by multiple cultures and was brought up in the Catholic tradition. In the excerpt below, Joanna describes a type of soup that is prepared and served during Italian wedding receptions. The soup is served to everyone at the reception—including the newly married couple—and is a hallmark of Italian weddings.

Joanna: “Someone would make Italian wedding soup… It was usually the bride’s grandmother but anyone could make it… And they would make a huge amount of it to feed the entire wedding party and all of the guests.”

Isabella: “What was in the soup?”

Joanna: “It had tiny meatballs; those were always homemade, they had to be homemade. And the other main ingredient was egg pasta. It was a special type of pasta made from egg, just like it sounds. It was cut up into little pieces… never the full noodle, it was chopped up into small bits. Then there was a lot of Parmesan cheese. The more cheese, the better. And the base was chicken broth. It’s a traditional dish but I’ve seen it in the supermarket sold in cans. That’s obviously not authentic.”

Here, Joanna describes a traditional Italian soup that is prepared specifically for weddings. As Joanna notes above, the recipe has become so popular that soup companies (think Progresso or Campbells) have adopted it and started to mass-produce it. It is advertised in supermarkets as “Italian wedding soup,” which acknowledges the cultural origins of the soup and also attests to how popular it is amongst Italians.