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.
Stem kale and coarsely chop.
Cut ciabatta into ½" slices.
Form the Meatballs
Thoroughly combine ground pork, half the Parmesan (reserve remaining for bread), 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 occasionally 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, 8-10 minutes.
While bread 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 soup 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 with reserved Parmesan. Bon appétit!