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Italian Wedding Soup

This easy Italian Wedding Soup is full of flavorful mini meatballs, vegetables, spinach, and pasta in chicken broth. It makes a delicious one-pot dinner or lunch that everyone will love!

Italian Wedding Soup is one of my all-time favorite soups. There’s just something about the delicious little meatballs and tiny balls of pasta swimming in chicken broth that makes me so very happy.

The best part? It’s super simple to make!

WHY IS IT CALLED ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP?

The answer is not what you might think!

It’s not because it’s served at Italian weddings. It’s actually called wedding soup in reference to the flavor being a “marriage” of the meat and greens in the soup.

The Italian name of the soup is minestra maritata – which actually means married soup rather than wedding soup. The English name of wedding soup is slight error in the translation.

The original Italian version contained dark leafy greens and meat in broth. It was intended to be a one-pot meal that used up the greens and meat so they wouldn’t go to waste.

The Americanized version of the soup changed the meat to meatballs, added pasta, and most commonly uses spinach as the greens. This is the version I have for you today because it’s just SOOO GOOD!

pot of Italian wedding soup with a wooden spoon

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MEATBALLS!

Without them, it’s just chicken broth, spinach and pasta. Kinda boring, right?

The meatballs have to be super flavorful and – in my opinion – they should be small enough so that you can pick them up with your spoon and eat them in one bite.

I already have a great recipe for Baked Meatballs here on the blog, so I use the exact same recipe for this soup. I just make them mini meatballs and cook them in the soup instead of baking them.

You can use any kind of meat to make the meatballs. I love using turkey or a ground beef/ground pork mix (or meatloaf mix). You could even use ground chicken.

For moister meatballs, use meat that has 10 to 20% fat content. If the meat is too lean, they tend to be dry.

After you make the meatballs, you just quickly sauté some celery, onion, and carrots, add chicken broth, add the meatballs and pasta, and cook for 20 minutes. Add some fresh spinach, stir until it wilts, and you’re ready to dig in to this awesomely delicious soup!

ladle full of italian wedding soup being taken out of the pot

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED:

  • Ground meat (beef, meatloaf mix, turkey, or chicken – 10 to 20% fat)
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Egg
  • Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Dried parsley
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Chicken broth or stock
  • Acini di pepe pasta (or pastina)
  • Fresh spinach

HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP:

three images showing the steps to make italian wedding soup
three images showing the steps to make italian wedding soup
three images showing how to make italian wedding soup

TIPS & TIDBITS:

  • I like to keep things super simple with this soup, so I just cook the meatballs right in the broth without browning them first. I also like the soft texture that this gives the meatballs. If you’d rather brown your meatballs, that would be delicious too!
  • Use chicken broth or stock that you really enjoy the flavor of. Homemade is always best, of course, but sometimes we just don’t have time for that! I personally am a big fan of the Better Than Bouillon roasted chicken base (lots of flavor there).
  • I just LOVE the little balls of acini di pepe pasta (or pastina) in this soup! If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, you could use orzo instead.
  • It may seem like ½ cup of acini di pepe is not a lot when you first stir it in, but trust me, those little balls will puff up – even more so after the soups sits for a bit – and you’ll wonder where the heck they all came from. If you want to add more, go ahead, but I warned you!
  • This soup is delicious topped with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese!
  • If you have leftover soup, the pasta will soak up some of the broth as it sits in the refrigerator, so you may need to add more broth when you reheat it.
  • I don’t recommend freezing this soup, as the pasta can become mushy.
a spoonful of Italian wedding soup being taken out of the bowl

Serve up this soup with a salad and some bread, and you’ve got yourself one fine meal…and it’s ready in less than an hour!

I hope you try this recipe for Italian Wedding Soup and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Italian wedding soup in a white bowl with a spoon

Italian Wedding Soup

This easy Italian Wedding Soup is full of flavorful mini meatballs, vegetables, spinach, and pasta in chicken broth. It makes a delicious one-pot dinner or lunch that everyone will love!
5 from 3 votes
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Estimated Calories: 358

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground meat with 10 to 20% fat content, beef, meatloaf mix, turkey, or chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup Italian seasoned Panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Soup:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 8 cups chicken broth or stock
  • ½ cup acini di pepe pasta, or pastina
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach, roughly chopped

Instructions

Make the Meatballs:

  • Place all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Gently mix until everything is well combined (hands are best for this, just be sure to wash them well when you're done rolling the meatballs). Note: Try not to overwork the meat, as this can make the meatballs tough. If the mixture is too wet and won't hold the shape of a meatball, add more breadcrumbs. If the mixture is too dry, add more milk.
  • Roll into mini meatballs (I use a teaspoon measuring spoon to measure them out and get about 54 meatballs). Place the meatballs on a large tray or baking sheet; set aside.

Make the Soup:

  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onions, and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth to the pot; bring to a boil.
  • Once the broth has come to a boil, gently add the meatballs, one at a time, then give them a gentle stir to make sure they don't stick together.
  • Add the acini de pepe; stir for a few seconds to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  • Cover partially with a lid and cook at a low boil for 20 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the meatballs are cooked through (internal temperature of at least 160°F for beef, pork, veal and lamb; 165°F for turkey or chicken).
  • Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Add the spinach; stir until wilted.

Notes

  • Serve with grated Parmesan cheese for topping the soup, if desired.
  • If you have leftovers, the pasta will likely soak up some of the broth while it is in the refrigerator, so you may need to add more broth when you reheat the soup.
  • I don’t recommend freezing this soup, as the pasta can become mushy.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
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Recipe Rating




Rosie

Monday 21st of November 2022

Have made this soup several times. It is so fresh tasting & delicious! I save & freeze some of the meatballs to make soup again at a later date. I add some Parmesan cheese to the top . It’s become one of my favorite recipes! You won’t be disappointed!

Michelle

Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

Thank you, Rosie! I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

Eguiny

Tuesday 8th of February 2022

Delicious soup. My husband said it was one of his favorites. I used homemade chicken bone broth. It was great. Loved the meatball flavor as well. .

Michelle

Tuesday 8th of February 2022

Thank you so much, Eguiny! I'm so happy you both enjoyed the soup...and I'm sure your homemade bone broth made it extra-delicious!!

Rosie P

Friday 21st of January 2022

Delicious soup & easy to make. Lots of flavor! We will definitely make again!

Michelle

Saturday 22nd of January 2022

Thanks very much for the comment and rating, Rosie! I'm so happy you enjoyed the soup!