Normally we're suckers for romance, but the truth is this Italian-American soup doesn't get its name because it's served at weddings. The real story is much better: It's actually a mistranslation of “minestra maritata,” or married soup. The flavors--including pork meatballs, ditalini pasta, and fresh kale--are such a perfect combo that they form a happy union. Whip up a pot of this easy soup tonight, and enjoy the nuptials.
Halve and peel shallot. Cut halves into ¼" dice.
Cut ciabatta into ½" slices.
Stem kale and coarsely chop.
Form the Meatballs
Thoroughly combine ground pork, half the Parmesan (reserve remaining for ciabatta), half the cornstarch, half the Italian seasoning (reserve remaining of both for soup), a pinch of salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a mixing bowl.
Form pork mixture into eight meatballs, about the size of a ping-pong ball.
Sear the Meatballs
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tsp. olive oil and meatballs to hot pot. Cook until well-browned on three sides, 2-3 minutes per side.
Transfer meatballs to a plate. Meatballs will finish cooking in a later step.
Reserve pot; no need to wipe clean.
Start the Soup
Return pot used to sear meatballs to medium heat and add 2 tsp. olive oil and shallot. Stir often until translucent, 30-60 seconds.
Add remaining Italian seasoning, chicken base, and 4 cups water. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer, and cook, 5 minutes.
While soup simmers, bake ciabatta.
Bake Ciabatta and Finish Soup
Place ciabatta on prepared baking sheet. Top with ½ tsp. olive oil and remaining Parmesan (reserve a pinch for garnish). Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
While ciabatta bakes, add pasta, kale, meatballs, and a pinch of salt and pepper to soup. Combine remaining cornstarch with 1 tsp. water and stir into soup.
Return to a simmer and cook until pasta is tender and meatballs reach a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees, 8-10 minutes.
Plate dish as pictured on front of card, garnishing soup with reserved Parmesan. Bon appétit!