Italian Wedding Soup

January 30, 2017

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Best Italian Wedding Soup! I used to be intimidated to make Italian Wedding Soup. I have no Italian lineage and my mom never made it growing up, so for whatever reason it seemed easy to mess up.

But I’m here to tell you it is so easy to make and following this simple recipe people may likely think it was passed down from an Italian Grandmother.

Closeup overhead image of Italian Wedding Soup in a large white bowl.

Tips for the Best Italian Wedding Soup

This is my idea of the best Italian Wedding Soup! What makes it the best you’re likely asking? It’s a number of things so here we go:

  • Searing the meatballs is a game changer in my opinion. Why just simmer them in broth them when you can brown them first add add all that flavor?
  • Make the meatballs small. This is soup, not a big bowl of pasta.
  • Use fresh herbs. They really add great flavor.
  • Stick with the combination of the two meats.
  • Use fresh bread crumbs. Again we’re building better flavor. The texture of dry would throw this recipe off anyway.
  • Don’t be skimpy with the garlic. This is an Italian soup. I like to use 4 cloves here.
  • Bring on the parm! The shredded parmesan will really compliment the soup nicely. It may not be pictured as a finishing garnish, but don’t leave it off!
  • Stick with tiny pasta, I love how it sets this soup apart.

 

Two white bowls filled wit Italian Wedding Soup set over a gray surface.

Want to see how easy this Italian Wedding Soup recipe is? Watch the video!

What Pasta to Use for Italian Wedding Soup?

I like this best with acini de pepe. Acini de pepe are just those tiny little round pasta that can usually be found by the other pastas at the grocery store. If you can’t find them orzo will work here as well.

Italian Wedding Soup in a large white enameled pot. Soup includes meatballs, bits of pasta, carrots, celery, spinach and broth.

Can I Substitute Other Greens Here?

I prefer the flavor of the spinach best here but kale, endive or escarole are other greens commonly used in Italian Wedding Soup and they would work fine in this recipe.

If using one of those previously listed I’d recommend adding them along with the pasta as they’ll need a longer cook time. The spinach cooks almost instantly whereas those others wont.

This soup might require a little more prep than some of your average soups (such as grinding up fresh bread crumbs and shaping and browning the tiny meatballs) but the extra steps and extra pan are so worth it in the end. Hope you love it too!

Italian Wedding Soup. Two servings shown in a white bowl with a white pot half full in the background.

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4.98 from 139 votes

Italian Wedding Soup

The BEST Italian Wedding Soup! Filled with homemade browned meatballs, fresh veggies and tiny bits of pasta. Total comfort food any day of the year!
Servings: 6
Prep25 minutes
Cook25 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 8 oz lean ground beef
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 1/2 cup fresh hearty white bread crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups 1/4-inch diced carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups diced yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup 1/4-inch diced celery
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced (1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 5 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry acini de pepe or orzo pasta**
  • 6 oz fresh spinach , chopped
  • Finely shredded parmesan , for serving

Instructions

  • For the meatballs:
  • Add beef and pork to a large mixing bowl. Add in bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, parmesan, egg, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  • Gently toss and break up mixture with hands to evenly coat and distribute. Shape mixture into very small meatballs, about 3/4 inch to 1 inch and transfer to a large plate.
  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook until browned, turning occasionally (to brown on 2 or 3 sides), about 4 minutes total.
  • Transfer meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels while leaving oil in skillet. Repeat process with remaining meatballs (note that meatballs won't be cooked through at this point, they'll continue to cook through in the soup).
  • For the soup:
  • While meatballs are browning, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onions and celery and saute until veggies have softened about 6 - 8 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
  • Pour in chicken broth, season soup with salt and pepper to taste and bring mixture to a boil. Add in pasta and meatballs, reduce heat to light boil (about medium or medium-low).
  • Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender and meatballs have cooked through, about 10 minutes, while adding in spinach during the last minute of cooking. Serve warm, sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese.

Notes

  • *I recommend using bread such as a La Brea french loaf. Just grind up a slice in a food processor to find crumbs. Save the remaining bread for serving (slathered with butter of course) or freeze for another later use.
  • **If you like a more brothier soup you can reduce pasta to 3/4 cup. Note that as the soup sits the pasta will absorb more broth so you can add more broth to thin the soup as desired.
Nutrition Facts
Italian Wedding Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 396 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 362mg16%
Potassium 911mg26%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 7490IU150%
Vitamin C 16.6mg20%
Calcium 190mg19%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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321 Comments

  • Cathy

    I made this tonight. It was time consuming but let me tell you, it was worth every second!!!
    Extremely delicious!! Definitely a keeper!!!

  • M.Henderson

    Is there any way for me to cook the meatballs while in the soup or even make this a crockpot soup?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes some recipes cook meatballs in soup without browning first, but I highly recommend browning beforehand as it adds a lot more flavor.

  • Karen

    My husband loves this soup. I do not eat it because of the pasta carb count, but have tasted it enough to know just how good it is. My husband basically eats the whole pot over days. And today, he just asked me when am I going to make it for him again. My Italian mother-in-law did comment that it had too many meat balls in it, but I learned a long time ago to not listen to her. So, I’m off to the kitchen, to make my husband another Dutch oven pot full. Thanks so much for this recipe.

  • David H Currier

    Don’t add the spinach until just before serving. It becomes too black. Also, this recipe has much too much orzo for me.

  • Patricia Van Duzen

    Made the recipe just like it said and I found it terrible. Will never make this recipe again. Should have used beef broth instead of chicken broth.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Chicken broth is what is generally used but you can definitely sub beef broth if that’s the flavor you prefer.

      • Arlene

        I cooked the meatballs in the Dutch oven.!I took out the veggies in the same pot. It is not as pretty but the taste is great. I used orzo because I didn’t have the other pasta. My son loves the soup. He will tell me how he likes it.

  • Brian

    Good recipe, but Grandma Romagnoli would only use fresh ground veal for wedding soup, and of course lots of love. Only special occasions. Oh yeah, and the pasta was always home-made. Never had anything like it, anywhere, by anyone.

  • Zaina

    I have never made this type of soup before and I NAILED it! It’s delicious. It might be the best wedding soup I ever had in my life.
    I stuck to the recipe for the most part, EXCEPT I did use dry oregano, and I used 32 oz of fat-free vegetable broth because I didn’t have as many cans of chicken broth as I thought.
    I used 1 LB of 80/20 ground chuck instead of both pork and hamburger, and I omitted the pasta ( I bought it tho).
    And I shaved the carrots with the peeler.
    You can also shred them with a cheese shredder. I like that instead of little chunks of carrots. It’s prettier too.
    I used fresh, flat parsley, aka Italian parsley. Don’t use that curly stuff that restaurants use as decoration on plates. It’s SO different. Just trust me.
    I used fresh Italian bread from a local store bakery in the meatballs.
    I used a melon-baller to scoop the meatball mix.
    And I pan-fried these on high, got a nice little crunchy sear, THEN turned them down low and finished cooking them. Don’t over cook, tho.
    If you follow the recipe, or even improvise as I did, you REALLY cannot mess this up.

    • Jessica

      I have only used Israeli couscous (which I think is the same as pearl?). Works great.