Italian Wedding Soup

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

The whole family loves this Italian wedding soup with tender meatballs, veggies and pasta in a rich, flavorful broth.

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

My kids love anything with meatballs in it (especially mini meatballs), so there’s always excitement at our house when Italian wedding soup is on the menu. The name “wedding soup” comes from the Italian phrase minestra maritata–or “married soup” – which is a reference to the way the flavors combine, like a happy marriage. Wedding soup is traditionally made from a rich, long-cooked homemade chicken stock. In a perfect world, we’d all make our own stock, but who has time? To mimic the same rich flavor, I use a combination of high-quality store-bought broth fortified with wine and lots of veggies.

For the meatballs, my secret is to add ground sausage to the beef mixture, which adds tons of flavor without the need for lots of other seasonings. The most tedious part of the recipe is rolling the little meatballs – the recipe makes 50 – but I usually get one of the kids to help.

What you’ll need to make Italian Wedding Soup

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Note that the recipe calls for regular (not low-sodium) chicken and beef broth. I find the soup to be a bit bland with the low-sodium varieties but if you special dietary considerations, go ahead and use low-sodium and season to taste before serving.

How to make Italian Wedding Soup

Begin by making the meatballs.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

In a large bowl, beat the egg with the chives, sage and garlic.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Add the ground beef, sausage, cheese, breadcrumbs, and salt.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Mash with your hands until evenly combined.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Roll the mixture into tablespoon-size balls (about 1-inch in diameter) and place on a greased oven-safe rack. (If you don’t have an oven-safe rack, it’s fine to cook the meatballs directly on the baking sheet; it’ll just be a little harder to get rid of the fat as it tends to collect around the meatballs.)

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Set aside.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Add the chicken broth, beef broth, water, wine, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil until the pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes (or according to package directions).

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Reduce the heat to low and add the spinach and meatballs.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Simmer for a few minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the meatballs are warmed through. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Make It Ahead

If you’d like to make this soup part of your rotation and want to shave off a little time for the next time around, double the recipe for the meatballs and freeze half. That way, all you’ll have to do is make the soup and add the meatballs to it as directed in the recipe. (They may take a few extra minutes to warm through if you’re adding them directly from the freezer.)

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

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Italian Wedding Soup

The whole family loves this Italian wedding soup with tender meatballs, veggies and pasta in a rich, flavorful broth.

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 50 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb 85 or 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, removed from the casings
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 cups high-quality chicken broth, such as Swanson (do not use low-sodium)
  • 2 cups high-quality beef broth, such as Swanson (do not use low-sodium)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (okay to use black pepper)
  • 1 cup small pasta such as dittalini
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, stems trimmed and roughly chopped (once prepped, you should have about 3 packed cups)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set an oven-proof roasting rack over top. Spray the rack generously with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg with the chives, sage and garlic. Add the remaining meatball ingredients and mash with your hands until evenly combined. Roll the mixture into tablespoon-size balls, about 1-inch in diameter (it will make approximately 50 meatballs), and place on the prepared rack. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, start the soup. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken broth, beef broth, water, wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil until the pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes (or according to package directions). Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Reduce the heat to low and add the spinach and meatballs. Simmer for a few minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the meatballs are warmed through. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  4. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months but wait until you reheat the soup to add the pasta. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until simmering, add the pasta, and cook until the pasta is tender.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 359
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 930 mg
  • Cholesterol: 83 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • This soup was the BEST Italian Wedding Soup I have ever had (don’t tell my grandma). In my opinion this isn’t the “traditional” wedding soup I usually make which is essentially chicken soup w green leaf veg, pasta and little meatballs. The mixture of chicken and beef broth with a little bit of white wine makes a world of difference. The only thing I changed was i cook the pasta separately so it doesn’t soak up all the delicious soup. I love this recipe so much that as soon as I was done eating it I went to amazon and bought her cookbooks. I cant imagine all the great recipes that I will be adding to my “rotation”.
    Thanks Jenn

    • — DONNA G on January 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was so delicious, pretty simple but the flavor was fantastic!

    • — Caroline Willing on January 23, 2022
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  • Excited to make this for my family! We have a chicken allergy though and wondering if I can sub the chicken broth for something else. Any suggestions?

    • — Alisha on January 21, 2022
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    • Sure Alisha, You can use veggie broth instead. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on January 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is just the most wonderful recipe: there’s no going back to store bought once you’ve made this. Thank you!!

    • — Amy on January 17, 2022
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  • Fabulous soup, made it for just the two of us, lasted for the next three days, wonderful

    • — Maurice Heather. UK on January 17, 2022
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  • Hi Jenn
    I just made this for this cold evening, and cannot wait to eat it!
    I was wondering would it work if I cooked the 1 cup of pasta separately and then added the amount each person wanted to their own bowl?
    Thank you so much
    Melissa

    • — Melissa on January 16, 2022
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    • Sure, Melissa, that would work. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2022
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  • So excited to make this tomorrow!! They didn’t have fresh spinach at the store. Should I use fresh baby kale or frozen chopped spinach? Thank you!!

    • — Heather on January 14, 2022
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    • Hi Heather, I’d go with the baby kale. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2022
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  • Another absolutely delicious 5 star recipe! I am often skeptical that the ratings on food blogs are skewed but yours always turn out beautifully. I used 2 cups beef broth, 8 cups chicken broth and skipped the water – some of my broth was unsalted (even though it says not to do that ;)) so I just adjusted the salt at the end. I cut my meatballs in half before adding to the soup just to make it easier for the whole family to eat. I just adore this soup!

    • — Deana on January 14, 2022
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  • Love your cookbooks & all of your recipes! Everything always comes out fantastic! Question re: Italian Wedding soup – How many meatballs do you put in the soup?

    • — Peggy on January 9, 2022
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    • So glad you like the recipes and cookbooks, Peggy! This makes about 50 meatballs. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2022
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  • Hi Jenn!

    I was wondering if you can share some serving suggestions to go along with this soup? As you mentioned this was a family favorite in your home, what kinds of things do you like to prepare that go along with this soup? Thanks and happy new year!

    Cole

    • — Cole on January 9, 2022
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    • Hi Cole, this would be nice paired with a Caesar salad using this dressing and this focaccia. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2022
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      • Thank you so much!

        • — Cole on January 11, 2022
        • Reply
  • So good! Even better, all five grandkids liked!! I skipped the step of cooking meatballs over rack, just did them in foil lined 9×13” pan, no fat to discard.
    I think the boy grandkids could have just eaten the meatballs, but they did finish their soup!

    • — Lori Barron on December 23, 2021
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  • The correct translation of the name is Marriage Soup, not‘wedding’. It refers to the combination of chicken stock with beef, either in meatballs, as you suggest, or small bites. Good soup, wrong name.

    • — Walter Matera on November 30, 2021
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    • This is perfect! Was wondering why the beef broth. Never made wedding soup with it before. Thanks!

      • — A Cauldren on December 5, 2021
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      • So glad you like it! The beef broth just gives the soup a slightly richer flavor.

        • — Jenn on December 7, 2021
        • Reply
  • Love this soup. We made this on a rainy day and we could not believe how tasty this was. We couldn’t find pancetta but the flavor is so good we didn’t miss this ingredient. Serve with crusty bread and a good salad.

    • — Nanners on November 17, 2021
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  • I am making this tomorrow. Can you sub the chicken broth for bone broth and I forgot the bay leaf 🤦‍♀️ Is this a must or can I get away not using it?
    Not worried about it not being good I’ve made many of your recipes and all turn out amazing !!! Lots of kid fans in the household 7 year old gonna be so happy for this soup

    • — Jessica on November 15, 2021
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    • Yes and yes — hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn,

    I am a loyal reader of yours. I just purchased your second cookbook, and I can’t wait to try this tonight! For the meatballs, I don’t eat pork… would you recommend I add in some spicy Turkey sausage (cut out of casings) in addition to the beef? Or should I stick with all beef and season more like you suggested in the other comment? I don’t want them to come out dry or under seasoned.

    Thanks so much!
    Callie

    • — Callie on November 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Thanks for your support with the recipes and the cookbook! Sure, I think replacing the pork with turkey sausage sounds great – please LMK how it turns out with the tweak.

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2021
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  • Has anyone thought it was greasy? Not sure what I did to cause that…

    • — Brandner June on October 25, 2021
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  • Can I substitute something non-dairy for the cheese? Or just leave it out altogether? Thanks as always!

    • — Hannah on October 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • You can just omit the cheese. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • Overall I really enjoyed this recipe. It comes together easily and looks beautiful. I found the meatballs and soup a bit bland. For the meatballs, maybe a bit more salt. For the soup, it probably depends on what stock you use. I found the Trader Joe’s one a little thin on richness and flavor. I added more salt. And I felt it needed a bit more heat – next time I’ll try sauteeing the veggies with some red pepper and garlic. I also added a bit of lemon for some acid. But it’s a beautiful, filling soup and I’m glad I tried it! My husband loved it!

    • — Jen M. on October 19, 2021
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    • Delicious soup! Used ground turkey, 1 less cup water and doubled the black pepper. Will make again.

      • — Michele on January 7, 2022
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  • WONDERFUL SOUP! It’s a good idea to make a double batch of the meatballs as Jen suggested, to maximize time for the next round – because there WILL be repeats of this great soup. I made it as written, but sometimes add a bit of sriracha to my bowl for a bit of a heat kick (my husband doesn’t care for it, unless I sneak it into dishes – mainly soups and stews). My inner circle of friends and family are so thankful that I found your site. Thank you for your generosity in sharing, Jen!

    • — Ana on October 18, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn, for those of us in Australia that can’t access ground sausage (we have sausage meat but it’s not really seasoned and I’m pretty sure it’s mostly binder), what can we replace it with? I.e spices etc?

    Btw made your carrot cake yesterday, yummy! Even better the next day!

    • — Danielle L. on October 6, 2021
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    • Hi Danielle, You can get away with using all ground beef here; just make sure it’s well seasoned as the sausage has a lot of seasoning. Some spices I would add — a bit of oregano, Italian seasoning, whole or ground fennel seeds, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Hope that helps (and glad you enjoyed the carrot cake)!

      • — Jenn on October 7, 2021
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      • Thankyou for taking the time to answer my question (and all the other questions) 🙂

        • — Danielle L. on October 15, 2021
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        • My pleasure!

          • — Jenn on October 18, 2021
          • Reply
  • I love this recipe as written. Amazing. One day we were rushed and didn’t have time to make the meatballs so we fried up italian sausage meat to replace the meatballs and it was also amazing. I would make it this way when I don’t have time for the meatball process.

    • — Sita on July 6, 2021
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  • Made this yesterday for a house full with summer colds. It was a big hit! Our “grand-friend girls” both had two bowls. I’ve also made this recipe to take on Thanksgiving vacation. I made the meatballs and broth the day before departure and transported them in separate containers. Then, at our destination added the pasta and spinach. With a loaf of crusty bread and a cheese plate made for a quick “arrival day” dinner. Thanks for the wonderful recipes Jen! They are always amazing.

    • — Diane on July 4, 2021
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  • Another stellar recipe – thank you, Jenn!

    • — Lorraine Rossi Marier on March 28, 2021
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  • I’m about to make this recipe for the second time. I tried one on NYE from allrecipes but i loved this one much better!! My daughter and parents (who are total gourmets) loved it too!

    • — Laurel on March 3, 2021
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  • This is my second time making this soup. The first time I made it exactly as the recipe calls, however I found it slightly on the bland side due to the addition of 2 cups water. Second time I made it I used 6 cups chicken broth and 4 cups beef broth and it was delicious! A nice soup to make on the weekend when you have more time and want to serve it during the week.

    • — Catherine on February 21, 2021
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  • Wow! This is my second recipe from this chef and my friends are excited to see what I make next. I did everything that the recipe said except I cooked the pasta separately and it turned out fabulous!

    • — Heather Thomas on February 16, 2021
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  • Really good! I thought I would lose my fam with the spinach, but they thought it tasted a bit like won ton soup, so I won dinner! 🙌🏽 Another great recipe, thank you!!!!

    • — Kristie - Senoia, GA on February 9, 2021
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  • My entire family loves this soup! I usually make a tripe batch and freeze it (without the noodles) so we can enjoy it throughout the winter. I highly recommend this recipe!

    • — Nicole on January 31, 2021
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  • This makes ALOT of food. I made the mistake of mixing the pasta in with the soup, and the pasta soaked up all of the broth. Next time, I will keep them separated. It is one of my favorite recipes for lunch and dinner.

    • — Rose on January 30, 2021
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  • This is one of my favorite Soups. The meatballs where so delicious. Making it again this week=end.

    • — Michele Marvin on January 29, 2021
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  • This is one of my favorite soup recipes. The broth and the meatballs are so flavorful. My kids love it too and actually requested that I make it for Christmas Eve dinner this year!

    • — Tracy Sears on January 29, 2021
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  • I love this soup and have made it many times. I usually make a large batch of meatballs ahead and freeze them to have for different recipes and several batches of this delicious soup. I love the combination of beef broth and chicken broth. Gives a very unique flavor. The soup keeps well for left-overs if you do not add the spinach to the soup when you’re making it. I add fresh baby spinach to the bottom of my bowl and ladle the piping hot soup on top when I serve it. Spinach wilts immediately and the soups keeps better that way.

    • — Kellie Leighton-Oppler on January 29, 2021
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  • I made this soup last night. The recipe was easy and super satisfying! Since there’s only 2 of us, I cooked the pasta separately. I have plenty left for another meal. I served this with Jen’s homemade bread. Delicious!

    • — Sally G on January 29, 2021
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  • We typically have a lot of mouths to feed in our household. Rarely, does everyone agree on their favourites but this one is a winner! I recently made it on a cold winter night with your crusty artisan bread. It was perfect…thank you kindly for such a great selection of recipes

    • — Laurie on January 28, 2021
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  • Easy and delicious. I made no additions or substitutions. Perfect just the way Jen says.

    • — Kelly Nelsen on January 28, 2021
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  • Yum! Such a wonderful soup! I enjoyed this Super easy soup to prepare with the step by step + multiple photos, it was simple for me to follow!

    • — Ana Jane Ivacove on January 28, 2021
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  • I love this soup! I double the meatballs (using a small cookie scoop helps me speed up the process) and keep them on hand in the freezer for fast meal prep. It’s a great soup to take to friends or neighbors who need a meal. Everyone always asks for the recipe and by now most folks are accustomed to me saying “It’s a Once Upon a Chef recipe!”

    • — Sherri on January 28, 2021
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  • This was so delicious! Thank you for sharing such a yummy recipe!

    • — Rachel on January 28, 2021
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  • This soup is ridiculously good! I just served it on a cold winter’s day and it hit the spot! The flavor is amazing and the meatballs are so very good! I got rave compliments from my guests and I will definitely make it again! I left out the red wine and it didn’t seem to make a difference.

    • — Kate on January 28, 2021
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  • Simple, savory, and satisfying. I made Italian Wedding Soup for our family’s Day After Christmas celebration. Since we could not be together in one space, due to CoVid, my husband and I delivered the soup to each of our children’s homes. Everyone loved it, and the six year old twins thought that the tiny meatballs were made just for them.
    The soup was was easy to make, and baking the meatballs, rather than frying, was a bonus. All the ingredients were easily accessible, which I have found is common to all of your recipes.
    Italian Wedding Soup along with Potato Leek and French Lentil is now part of my soup rotation.
    Thanks, Jen, for another excellent recipe. Your recipes make me a better cook.

    • — Linda Heile on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have been wanting to make this recipe for ages and I finally did! It is such a delicious an comforting soup. I love the Sage used in the recipe 😉 Really a fantastic soup and my family loved the flavour, especially the beef and the pork combined in the meatballs. This will be a soup to save for the books.

    • — Sage on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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