Jump to Recipe
Italian Wedding Soup is the best of both worlds! A warm comforting bowl of broth and vegetables with the added bonus of tasty Italian meatballs, all coming together to present one rich and satisfying meal that warms you down to the bones! A perfect for a cure for the winter blues!
I love meatballs and I love soup, so really this meal is like an all-star line up for me!
Italian Wedding Soup is certainly not be reserved only for Italian weddings! This is a family friendly dinner that is hearty enough to stand all on it’s own at the dinner table, and is a complete balanced meal with vegetable, starch and protein all married together in one pot.
In fact, did you know that this is where Italian Wedding Soup gets its name? No, contrary to the literal translation, this dish was not a staple dish served at Italian wedding receptions. Its original name in Italian is minestra maritata and it was translated to “wedding soup”, when in fact, a more appropriate translation would be “married soup”—as in green vegetables (minestra) are being married (maritata) to the meat. Funny meanings get lost in translation, huh?
But regardless of the origin of its name, for me Italian Wedding Soup is synonymous with blistery cold days, toasty warm homes, thick fuzzy socks, and above all, expressions of wonderment from my kids faces as the trek in from the harsh arctic air to be greeted by a loving bowl of comfort that glows brighter than the flames in our fireplace.
Italian Wedding Soup Ingredients:
For the Meatballs:
Onion and Garlic
Fresh Parsley and Basil
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
Cream or Milk and Breadcrumbs
For the Soup:
Onion, Garlic, Carrots, Celery, and Garlic
Chicken Stock and Water
Salt and Black Pepper
Kale or Spinach, Escarole, or Swiss Chard
Cooked Pasta- small shape
How to Make Italian Wedding Soup:
First Assemble the Meatballs: Place onion, garlic, parsley and basil in food processor and pulse a couple times for a fine mince. You could also chop, I just find the food processor method much faster!
Next, transfer minced onions and herbs to a mixing bowl add parmesan cheese, cream/milk, breadcrumbs and spices. Use fork to thoroughly incorporate together. Then add ground beef and use fork to mix the meatball base into the meat. Be careful not to over work. It’s more like a scrape and fluff motion.
Roll 1 to 1.5 tbsp sized meatballs and set meatballs aside for now.
Sear Meatballs and Make the Soup:
Heat large heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch Oven. When pot is hot, add about 2 tbsp of olive oil and begin browning the meatballs. You will need ot do this in batches, and you may need to add more oil throughout the searing process. Rotate the meatballs to get a sear on all (or at least) most sides! Browning the outside of meat is an essential step in building flavor. While it would be okay to simply boil the meatballs, in my opinion you would be really missing out! Once you have seared all the meatball, set them aside while you get the vegetables going.
Using same pot the meatballs were seared in, add the onion, carrots, celery. Cook for 5 minutes until softened, and scrape bottom of pan to remove any brown bits (major FLAVOR) from searing the meatballs. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Now add the chicken stock, water, salt, pepper and meatballs. Bring to a simmer and cover to cook for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted boiling water separately while soup is simmering. Drain and reserve. I like to cook the pasta separate so I keep the broth thin and not starchy.
The dark greens will the the last one in the soup. It will wilt almost instantly.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and with cooked pasta. Top with grated parmesan cheese and more red pepper flakes, with a side of crusty bread. Enjoy!
Italian Wedding Soup
- 1/2 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup parsley fresh
- 5 basil leaves
- 1/4 cup grated parmasan or romano cheese
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/8 cup cream
- 1 lb ground beef
- olive oil for searing meatballs
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 carrots peeled and diced
- 3 celery stalks diced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 8 oz chopped kale or spinach, escarole, swiss chard,
- 1 cup dried small pasta like pastina, orzo or acini de pepe
- Place onion, garlic, parsley and basil in food processor. Pulse a couple times to mince.
- Transfer to bowl and and mix in parmesan cheese, cream, breadcrumbs and spices. Use fork to combine. Add ground beef and use fork to incorporate all ingredients together. Do not overwork the meat.
- Roll 1 to 1.5 tbsp sized meatballs. Set meatballs aside.
- Heat large heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch Oven. Add olive oil and sear the meatballs in batches. Brown on all sides and do not overcrowd the pot. Set browned meatballs aside.
- Using same pot the meatballs were seared in, add the onion, carrots, celery. Cook for 5 minutes until softened, and scrape bottom of pan to remove any brown bits from searing the meatballs. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add chicken stock, water, salt, pepper and meatballs . Simmer and cover for 20-25 minutes.
- Cook pasta in salted boiling water separately while soup is simmering. Drain and reserve.
- Add greens in the last minutes of cooking to wilt.
- Ladle soup into bowls and add desired amount of pasta to each bowl. Top with grated parmesan cheese.