This is the best Italian wedding soup recipe to fill your belly on a cold day. Made with ground beef meatballs, veggies, and a savory broth, it’s an easy twist on an authentic classic the whole family will love!
Table of Contents
- What Is Italian Wedding Soup?
- What Does Italian Wedding Soup Contain?
- Creating Italian Wedding Soup: A Dance of Meatballs and Broth
- Serving Suggestion
- Make Ahead Options
- How Do I Store Leftovers?
- How to Freeze Italian Wedding Soup
- Common Questions About This Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
- More Comforting Soup Recipes
- The Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipe Recipe
What Is Italian Wedding Soup?
Italian wedding soup is a traditional Italian-American soup known for its comforting flavors. It typically consists of meatballs made from a mixture of ground meat (often a combination of beef and pork), breadcrumbs, and seasonings.
These meatballs are simmered in a flavorful chicken or vegetable broth with leafy greens like escarole or spinach and small pasta, such as acini di pepe. The soup is often garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and sometimes a drizzle of olive oil, making it a hearty and satisfying dish commonly served at weddings and other special occasions!
What Does Italian Wedding Soup Contain?
This comforting soup is known for its light, savory broth, meatballs, and veggies. While we didn’t use pork, we followed the authentic recipe pretty closely!
For the Meatballs
- Ground Beef – We recommend using lean ground beef (90 percent or leaner).
- Parmesan – For the best results, use freshly grated parmesan from a block.
- Herbs – Fresh flat-leaf parsley, fresh basil, and dried Italian herbs create a bold, slightly peppery flavor.
- Eggs – Large eggs act as a binder, holding the meatballs together.
- Italian Breadcrumbs – These are breadcrumbs flavored with Italian seasonings and are crucial to help absorb excess moisture and help the meatballs hold their shape.
- Garlic – Use whole, fresh garlic cloves, and mince them yourself.
- Salt and Black Pepper – Adjust to taste.
For the Soup
- Olive Oil – This is used to sauté the veggies, helping them soften and creating a richer taste.
- Veggies – Carrots, yellow onion, celery, garlic, and spinach add lots of color and nutrients.
- Chicken Broth – We recommend using low-sodium varieties to avoid a super strong salty taste.
- Pasta – For this recipe, we use ditalini pasta.
- Lemon Juice – Use freshly squeezed lemon juice to add bright notes of citrus for a well-rounded soup.
- Seasonings – Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper add just a touch of savory goodness.
What type of pasta is best for an Italian wedding soup recipe?
We’ve seen every type of pasta being used for Italian wedding soup recipes. The common factor is that it’s always small.
For a more traditional recipe, opt for pasta such as acini di pepe or pastina. Or, use ditalini pasta, as we do, break strands of capellini or thin
Creating Italian Wedding Soup: A Dance of Meatballs and Broth
This is the best Italian wedding soup recipe not only because of its rich, comforting flavor but also how easy it is to make!
- Form the Meatballs. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Use a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop to portion it into balls.
- Bake the Meatballs. Arrange them in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, and bake them in a preheated oven until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside.
- Sauté the Veggies. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery, and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the garlic, and continue to cook until fragrant. Be careful not to let it burn!
- Add the Broth. Add the salt, black pepper, and broth, stirring to combine, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cook the Pasta. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and add the pasta. Cover, and cook until al dente.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients. Stir in the baby spinach, and cook until it wilts. Then, add the meatballs and continue to cook until they’re heated through. Remove the soup from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice.
Made with protein, veggies, and healthy fats, this recipe is a complete, filling meal on its own. You won’t need anything else!
However, if you do want to add a side, try serving it with no-knead olive focaccia bread or a simple salad. And don’t forget dessert!
Make Ahead Options
If you want to prepare ahead of time, you can easily make the different components of this Italian wedding soup recipe in advance.
- Combine the ingredients for the broth ahead of time, and simmer them on the stove. Then, transfer them to an airtight container, and keep them stored in the fridge for a day or two.
- Bake the meatballs up to a day in advance, and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Or, assemble the meatballs, arrange them on a baking sheet, and freeze them raw until solid. Transfer them to a sealable bag, and keep them frozen for up to two months.
- To bake the raw meatballs, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and let them thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, bake as the recipe states. Add a few extra minutes as needed until the meatballs cook all the way through!
How Do I Store Leftovers?
Once cooled, leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, transfer the soup to a pot over medium-high heat, and bring the liquid to a boil.
Add a few extra splashes of broth as needed to loosen the ingredients back up, and serve warm.
How to Freeze Italian Wedding Soup
This soup freezes well for up to three months. However, you’ll want to wait to add the pasta until you’re ready to serve.
To reheat, defrost the soup in the fridge overnight. Then, bring the liquid to a boil in a pot over medium-high heat, add the pasta, and cook until tender.
Common Questions About This Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
The name wedding soup is believed to have originated from the Italian phrase “minestra mariata,” which means “married soup” and refers to the harmonious “marriage” of flavors in the dish. An American recipe adapted from Italian cuisine, the dish is not actually originally linked to weddings but has come to be served for a variety of special occasions.
In Italy, wedding soup is known as “minestra mariata” which translates to married soup, not wedding soup!
Italian wedding soup typically features meatballs, leafy greens, and small pasta in a clear broth. Chickarina is a similar Italian-American soup, but it replaces the meatballs with tiny chicken meatballs, resulting in a slightly different flavor profile. So, the main distinction is that Italian wedding soup uses beef and pork meatballs, whereas Chickarina uses chicken meatballs.
More Comforting Soup Recipes
Looking for more restaurant-worthy soup recipes that will knock your socks off? Try out the options below!
- Easy Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
- Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
- Easy French Onion Soup
- Middle Eastern Orzo Soup
The Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese with extra for garnish
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1 large egg
- 2 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup carrots chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup uncooked Ditalini pasta
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice + more for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Form the mixture into small meatballs using a 1-tablespoon measure or a small ice cream scoop.1 pound lean ground beef, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 cup fresh basil, 1 large egg, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- Arrange the meatballs on the prpaerd sheet pan, and bake for 8 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside.
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery, and sauté for about 4 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.1 Tablespoon olive oil, 3/4 cup carrots, 1 medium yellow onion, 1 cup celery, 3 garlic cloves
- Gradually pour in the salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil.8 cups chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and add the Ditalini pasta. Cover, and cook for 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender.1 cup uncooked Ditalini pasta
- Add the baby spinach and cook for 1 minute until it wilts. Then, introduce the meatballs, and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the meatballs are heated through.5 ounces baby spinach
- Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the fresh lemon juice.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice + more for garnish
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.