This Italian Wedding soup is an easy soup recipe filled with juicy homemade mini meatballs, carrots, onions, small pasta or couscous, and kale in a flavorful chicken broth. One bowl of this comforting soup warms me from the inside out!
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Italian Style Wedding Soup
This classic recipe for Italian wedding soup is one I make when outside is just a little too cold for my liking! Being able to recreate the famous Olive Garden soup at home, means I get to stay in my jammies.
If you’ve always been under the impression that Italian wedding soup is a fancy soup served at weddings, well you’d be in good company, I did think that too way back when! I’ve since learned that it refers to the ingredients “marrying” together to create bold, delicious flavors.
So, no need to wait for a fancy occasion to enjoy it, it’s pure comfort food, and just one spoonful and you’ll see exactly why the name fits. It is so good!
For the Meatballs
- Meat: I like to use a mixture of ground beef and ground pork for the most flavor and moisture.
- Binding ingredients: A large egg, milk (any kind you want), and bread crumbs help to absorb the excess moisture and to bind the meatballs so that they don’t fall apart.
- Seasoning: Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, and salt add tons of Italian flavors to every bite. You can also add optional red pepper flakes for spicy meatballs.
- Oil: Used to help brown the meatballs as they bake. The outer sear helps lock in moisture, but it also adds even more flavor. You’ll also need oil to saute the veggies for the soup.
For the Soup
- Veggies & aromatics: Sliced carrots, diced onions, and minced garlic.
- Chicken broth: One of the things I love about a clear broth-based soup is that you can see everything contained in the bowl! You can use homemade chicken stock or store bought it’s up to you.
- Small pasta: Acini de Pepe are teeny tiny little pasta that looks like pebbles. They’re the popular choice in classic Italian wedding soup, but you can use whatever small pasta you like. I sometimes prefer to use farfalline, as pictured.
- Tuscan kale: This is longer, flatter, and thinner than curly kale. It cooks faster and is slightly more tender when wilted.
1. For quicker prep, use frozen meatballs. No need to thaw them first.
2. Switch up the ground beef and ground pork combination for all ground beef, all ground chicken, ground turkey, or a combination you prefer. You can also use ground Italian sausage or even chicken sausage, hot or mild.
3. Tiny Acini de pepe pasta is traditional in this soup, but you can use any small type of pasta you like. Orzo pasta, ditalini, or even pearl couscous (which isn’t pasta, but still works).
4. Swap the Tuscan kale for other leafy greens like regular kale, baby spinach, or escarole.
How to Make this Classic Italian Soup
This delicious soup will come together in a few steps, and will become a recipe you keep coming back to! Here’s how to make it:
In a large bowl, whisk the egg and milk together, and then add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
Add the ground beef and pork to the egg mixture and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overmix. You don’t want tough meatballs.
Coat a baking sheet (and your hands) with olive oil. Scoop out a Tablespoon of the meat mixture and roll it into a smooth ball. You want small meatballs for this soup! Using a small cookie scoop can help keep their similar size.
Place the meatballs on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake them for 12-15 minutes in a preheated 350° F oven until they are almost fully cooked. They will finish cooking in the soup.
Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, sautè the diced carrots and onions for 4-5 minutes until soft. Then add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the chicken broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot as you stir. The brown bits you scrape off will add a lot of flavor to the soup. It will also remove any browned veggies stuck to the bottom.
Bring the pot to a boil and add the pasta to cook for 3 minutes just until al dente. Return the meatballs to the soup along with the kale and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes on medium-low heat.
Enjoy Italian wedding soup topped with grated Parmesan cheese if desired!
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese makes all the difference! If you want to go all out, use large shavings instead!
- This soup is all about the tender meatballs and the pasta, however, it’s not a bowl of pasta and meatballs! Make sure to use small meatballs and tiny pasta so they don’t overpower the bowl.
- If you want more of a sear to your meatball, brown them in a skillet instead of in the oven.
- Make the meatballs ahead of time. Double the batch and save the rest of the meatballs for a different day!
- Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
You can always heat a single serving in the microwave, but if you have to reheat a lot, I’d suggest using the stove top.
Yes! There are some things you can do to get ahead. Make the meatballs and keep them in the fridge or freezer in a freezer-safe bag until you’re ready to use them. Flash-freeze them solid first if you plan to freeze them.
You can also make the soup base, but don’t add pasta or kale. Make the soup, and keep it in an airtight container for up to a few days ahead. When you’re ready to eat, then add the pasta and kale to wilt and heat through along with the meatballs.
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Italian Wedding Soup
For the Meatballs
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces ground pork
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup carrots sliced
- ½ cup onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup Acini de Pepe or other small pasta (see notes)
- 2 cups tuscan kale chopped
Make the Meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- In a large bowl, add the egg and milk and whisk together well.1 large egg, ¼ cup milk
- Next, add in the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes (if using). Mix together well.½ cup breadcrumbs, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Add the ground beef and pork into the mixture and gently stir to combine.8 ounces ground beef, 8 ounces ground pork
- Coat a baking sheet with olive oil (and your hands as well so they meat mixture doesn’t stick).2 tablespoons olive oil
- Using a spoon or cooking scoop, scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into smooth balls. place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs for 12-15 minutes until they are almost fully cooked.
Make the Soup
- Add the olive oil to a large soup pot or dutch oven and heat over medium heat for one minute.2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add in the diced carrots and onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.1 cup carrots, ½ cup onion
- Then add the minced garlic and cook it for an additional minute.2 cloves garlic
- Add in the chicken broth and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove any browned veggies.6 cups chicken broth
- Bring to a boil, add in the pasta and cook for 3 minutes.1 cup Acini de Pepe
- Then add the meatballs back into the soup along with the kale and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.2 cups tuscan kale
- Enjoy topped with additional parmesan cheese if desired.
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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Looks like a great recipe……but adding celery and dill to the stock makes an amazing difference is this soup. I make it all the time, it’s so comforting on these cold nights.