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Italian Wedding Soup

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Tender meatballs, veggies, and pasta in a rich and flavorful broth, Italian wedding soup is a meal unto itself.

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

My kids love anything with meatballs in it (especially mini meatballs), so there’s always excitement at our house when Italian wedding soup is on the menu. The name “wedding soup” comes from the Italian phrase minestra maritata – or “married soup” – which is a reference to the way the flavors combine, like a happy marriage. Wedding soup is traditionally made from a rich, long-cooked homemade chicken stock. To save time and mimic the same rich flavor, I use a combination of high-quality store-bought broth fortified with wine and lots of veggies. For the meatballs, my secret is to add ground sausage to the beef mixture, which adds tons of flavor without the need for lots of other seasonings. The most tedious part of the recipe is rolling the little meatballs – the recipe makes 50 – but I usually get one of the kids to help.

Similar to another classic Italian soup chockfull of veggies and pasta, pasta e fagioli, Italian wedding soup can be a meal unto itself. Serve it with focaccia and a salad and dinner is done.

What you’ll need to make Italian Wedding Soup

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Note that the recipe calls for regular (not low-sodium) chicken and beef broth. I find the soup to be a bit bland with the low-sodium varieties, but if you special dietary considerations, go ahead and use low-sodium and season to taste before serving.

How to make Italian Wedding Soup

Begin by making the meatballs.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

In a large bowl, beat the egg with the chives, sage and garlic.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Add the ground beef, sausage, cheese, breadcrumbs, and salt.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Mash with your hands until evenly combined.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Roll the mixture into tablespoon-size balls (about 1 inch in diameter) and place on a greased oven-safe rack. (If you don’t have an oven-safe rack, it’s fine to cook the meatballs directly on the baking sheet; it’ll just be a little harder to get rid of the fat as it tends to collect around the meatballs.)

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Set aside.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Add the chicken broth, beef broth, water, wine, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil until the pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes (or according to package directions).

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Reduce the heat to low and add the spinach and meatballs.

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Simmer for a few minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the meatballs are warmed through. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Make It Ahead

If you’d like to make this soup part of your rotation and want to shave off a little time for the next time around, double the recipe for the meatballs and freeze half. That way, all you’ll have to do is make the soup and add the meatballs to it as directed in the recipe. (They may take a few extra minutes to warm through if you’re adding them directly from the freezer.)

Video Tutorial

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

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Italian Wedding Soup

Tender meatballs, veggies, and pasta in a rich and flavorful broth, Italian wedding soup is a meal unto itself.

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 50 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ lb 85 or 90% lean ground beef
  • ½ lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, removed from the casings
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ⅓ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 cups high-quality chicken broth, such as Swanson (do not use low-sodium)
  • 2 cups high-quality beef broth, such as Swanson (do not use low-sodium)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper (okay to use black pepper)
  • 1 cup small pasta such as dittalini
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, stems trimmed and roughly chopped (once prepped, you should have about 3 packed cups)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set an oven-proof roasting rack over top. Spray the rack generously with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg with the chives, sage and garlic. Add the remaining meatball ingredients and mash with your hands until evenly combined. Roll the mixture into tablespoon-size balls, about 1 inch in diameter (it will make approximately 50 meatballs), and place on the prepared rack. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, start the soup. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken broth, beef broth, water, wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil until the pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes (or according to package directions). Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Reduce the heat to low and add the spinach and meatballs. Simmer for a few minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the meatballs are warmed through. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  4. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months but wait until you reheat the soup to add the pasta. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until simmering, add the pasta, and cook until the pasta is tender.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 359
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 930 mg
  • Cholesterol: 83 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • DO NOT BE LIKE ME.

    I’m making this (for the first time) for a soup potluck tomorrow for work. I’ve never been let down by a soup recipe from Jenn and hastily grabbed all the ingredients excited to wow my coworkers. It’s important to note I have young children and am sleep deprived. Well, I must say, 40 minutes into destemming BABY SPINACH I felt like I must be doing something wrong. That wrong thing was getting baby spinach. I’m sure this recipe is worth it but I’m also sure normal spinach would have been much, much faster. Giving 5 stars despite not trying it yet because I’m sure it’s delightful.

    • — Krista on December 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Any recommended DF substitute for the parmesan in the meatballs? I could use nutritional yeast or a Nooch It (combo of cashew & nutritional yeast), or just omit this.

    • — Brae on December 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Brae, either of the substitutes you suggested should work. Hope you enjoy the soup!

      • — Jenn on December 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • I like how this recipe looks. Question: can ground turkey/chicken be substituted for the ground beef and the Turkey Kielbasa sausage with the sausage?

    • — Audrey on November 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Audrey, ground turkey can be used in place of ground beef, but kielbasa won’t work as a substitute for the sausage in the recipe.

      • — Jenn on November 29, 2022
      • Reply
  • Excellent! I’m vegetarian so while the veggies simmered added some crushed fennel and red pepper flakes that helped give it an Italian taste to go with my veg meatballs. Once finished added 1/2 lemon juice and fresh parsley. This recipe hit the spot. Sooooooo good.

    • — Cindy on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe for dinner tonight. The only change I made was using hot Italian sausage instead of mild in the meatballs. The entire family loved it and it’ll go in our winter rotation. Thank you for a flavorful, filling soup recipe!

    • — Christina on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • First time making this soup. The meatballs were delicious! I would make this again! I didn’t add the noodles and it tasted great without the pasta! Very easy recipe to follow as well. Regards Mary

    • — Mary Kydd on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this several weeks ago. Excellent results, both my wife and I loved it. Great balance with the beef and chicken broth. Would think a good vegetable broth would taste good too but recipe is perfect the way it is. Made my meatballs super tiny, about the size of a macadamia nut. Helped with the overall texture. Lots of work but it’s the little things. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • — Phillip on November 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • This soup turned out amazing! I served it for a luncheon with some friends. Everyone thought it was delicious. I have made it several times. It is definitely a keeper!

    • — Barb Ponceroff on November 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely love your meatball recipe, the sage takes it to the next level. I’ve made this soup many times now, we obviously love it. I do make my own broth. Thank you for this recipe.

    • — Kaye Knop on November 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • This soup was the BEST Italian Wedding Soup we have ever had. I had chives and sage left in my herb garden! It will definitely become part of the winter rotation (even if I have to buy the sage and chives!)

    • — Cheryl Byrne on October 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • This was so delicious. Easy to follow recipe. I used champagne instead of white wine. Yum!
      Also I browned my meatballs.

      • — Shish on October 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • Loved this soup recipe

    • — Karen on October 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Easy to make and delicious!

    • — Kelly on October 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • I can’t wait to try this recipe! What a delicious fall soup and a great way to get some veggies and greens in! My question is: What brand is that adorable blue pot you are using in the photos? I need some new pots and pans!

    • — SoupIsUnderRated on September 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • It’s Le Creuset. Hope you enjoy the soup!

      • — Jenn on September 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • I ran across your recipe while looking for meatball recipes. I didn’t make the soup, but it does look delish. I came here to say the meatballs were amazing!! My company loved them, said they were the best they ever had. 🙂 Thank you

    • — Christy Short on September 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Tried this recipe for my family, as written, and absolutely delicious. My family thinks I’m an amazing cook and it’s truly thanks to your no-fail recipes.

    • — TracyV on August 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • First thank you for letting me see the recipe without having to join your site etc… second… this recipe is crazy good. I’ve tried many and for me I’m the beef stock flavoring is such an incredible enhancement. Also loved the fresh ingredients.. I used the hot Italian sausage as we were fighting colds… wouldn’t change back to the sweet sausage. Thank you

    • — Bete on August 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • My family loved it! I did not make the meatballs but instead browned the sausage and added 1/2 tsp sage to the soup. Also used frozen kale (rinsed and squeezed) This was amazing and I kept the recipe.

    • — Andrea on July 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made it & it was perfect. Took it to neighbor whose husband was in hospital and his brother and sister in law were staying with her. They are all “foodies”. & I was hoping they would like it. I was Told they ate it two nights in a row and they want the recipe! I gave them your website! Thank you so much .

    • — Teresa on June 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • I know you said (very clearly) not to use low sodium broths, but since I have been watching my sodium, I did anyway, and it turned out amazing anyway.
    I used 85% less-sodium beef broth, 4 cups of 55% less-sodium chicken broth, 2 cups of regular chicken broth. (mix based on what was available). Other than that, I followed the recipe almost exactly (more pasta because we are a carb house).

    The recipe feels warm and joyful, and with the work for the meatballs (which are incredible and I will be making on their own as well), I felt super proud of this dish, thank you for sharing.

    • — jesse on May 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • I was never a big of this soup, but my BF is, so I will be trying out this recipe. I am wondering if you think it might translate well to the slowcooker?

    • — TAG on April 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi, Regarding making this in a slow cooker, I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share because I don’t have experience with one, but these tips may help you convert the recipe. Hope you find them useful!

      • — Jenn on April 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • Much obliged 🙂

        • — TAG on April 28, 2022
        • Reply
  • Followed the recipe to the letter. I’m going to have to double it next time: my family ate it all up in one go! Even my pickiest eater fell in love with it.

    • — Joseph on April 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • Trying this tonight. I’m using homemade stock I already had made. First time doing homemade meatballs! I can’t wait!!

    • — Robyn on March 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • Excellent soup…love those meatballs.

    • — Nanny Dee on March 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • I can’t believe how good this soup tastes and I can’t stop thinking about it either. Jenn’s recipe is a classic!

    • — Sarah on March 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this delicious soup and will make it again

    • — Lisa on March 1, 2022
    • Reply

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