Italian Wedding Soup

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 servings

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Italian Wedding Soup is loaded with homemade Italian meatballs, pasta, savory vegetables, salty parmesan, and classic Italian seasoning. It’s one of our favorite soups for lazy winter days, but it’s great for hearty dinners any time of year.

Love hearty soups? Try this Italian Meatball Soup, this Leftover Turkey Soup or this Chicken Dumpling Soup next!

top view of cooked soup in pot with bread and wooden ladle in pot.

This Italian wedding soup recipe is perfect for cold winter days when you’re longing for a comforting and filling meal for the whole family.

It’s a bit of a labor of love, but it’s so worth it for the amazing rich flavors in every bite!

Of course, you can use meatballs from the grocery store, but in my opinion, nothing beats homemade meatballs from scratch.

If you go store-bought, no judgment here! We all need a shortcut sometimes (just don’t forget the Cheddar Bay Biscuits for dunking!).

Once you have the meatballs, you’re going to put them into a wonderfully savory soup base with loads of veggies, flavorful broth, and even a bit of parmesan rind that will melt right into the soup to make it even richer!

For more hearty soup inspiration, check out my Italian Sausage Gnocchi Soup, this Chicken Rice Soup, and my Tomato Tortellini Soup.

white bowl filled with soup and topped with parmesan cheese.

Ingredients Needed:

The ingredient list is longer than some of my soup recipes, but it’s worth it I promise! Even my soup-resistant children love this meatball soup 😉

Meatballs

ingredients for Italian wedding soup recipe on grey surface.
  • Bread: use 1 slice of soft bread to give the ground meat more substance when rolling it into meatballs.
  • Meat: use a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. Use lean when available so there is not excess fat in the soup.
  • Cheese: freshly grated Parmesan is packed with flavor!
  • Egg: for binding the ground meat and other ingredients together to form balls.
  • Seasoning: Italian seasoning with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper works great in this recipe for getting those classic Italian flavors in this soup.

Italian Wedding Soup

ingredients for Italian wedding soup recipe on grey surface.
  • Vegetables: a classic trio of carrots, celery, and onion will give you a great savory flavor for the base of this delicious soup.
  • Seaoning: freshly minced garlic, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, a bay leaf, and red pepper flakes, make this soup packed with flavor
  • Broth: low-sodium chicken broth works great in this soup to add a depth of flavor, and enables you to control the salt content here.
  • Cheese: use a Parmesan rind as it will soften in the soup while it cooks, giving an amazing umami depth of flavor that you won’t regret!
  • Pasta: I used ditalini pasta, but orzo pasta or anything else very small will work. Acini De Pepe pasta is the traditional choice for Italian Wedding Soup.
  • Spinach: fresh spinach leaves add great color and extra nutrients to this soup.
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How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

This classic Italian soup is great for lazy days or special occasions. Full instructions are included in the recipe card below.

Homemade Meatballs

  1. Make meatballs. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, cheese, eggs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and soaked bread. Shape into balls.
  2. Cook meatballs. Brown meatballs on both sides in a large pot, then set aside.

Italian Wedding Soup

  1. Sauté: Sauté carrots, celery, and onion.
  2. Add seasoning, broth, and Parmesan. Next, add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, bay leaf, and pepper flakes to the pot and cook. Then add the broth and parmesan rind.
  3. Add pasta and meatballs. Stir in the uncooked pasta and meatballs. Cover and cook.
  4. Add spinach. Stir in the spinach and serve immediately.

Italian Wedding Soup FAQs

Why is it called Italian wedding soup?

While the name would suggest that this soup is the traditional choice for Italian weddings, the name actually comes from the Italian phrase “minestra maritata”, which can be translated as “marriage soup”. This phrase describes the marriage of ingredients and flavors of the vegetables and meats used here.
And it’s a delicious one!

How do I store Italian wedding soup?

This soup will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge, although the pasta will become softer as it sits. If you prefer, you can cook the pasta separately and add it just before serving.

Can I freeze Italian wedding soup?

This soup can also be frozen. Again, if you are planning to freeze it I would leave the pasta out and add cooked pasta just before serving. 

overhead shot of black dutch oven filled with Italian wedding soup.

Tips and Notes

  • To bake your meatballs: If you prefer not to have the extra fat and juices from the meatballs in your soup, you can bake them at 400 degrees F for about 8-10 minutes or until browned on the outside.
  • Double your meatballs: These meatballs are a half batch of my Homemade Meatball recipe — so they are easily doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled! I love making a big batch of meatballs at once and having a stash in the freezer. See my original meatball post for storage tips.
  • Prep ahead. This recipe is a labor of love but lots of it can be prepped in advance! You can make the meatballs in advance and refrigerate or freeze them, you could cut the veggies in advance and refrigerate them, or you can use leftover cooked pasta to cut down cooking time.
Top view of a large pot of Italian wedding soup with full scoop being lifted out.

Italian Wedding Soup Variations

  • Mix up the veggies. You can add more veg to this soup easily, whether it’s seasonal veg you have a surplus of, or just some of your favorites, pretty much anything tastes great in here.
  • Add some heat. Add some red pepper flakes, chili powder, or a dash of hot sauce when serving this soup to spice it up.
  • Fresh herbs. Try mixing up the seasoning a bit with some fresh herbs instead of dried ones.
  • Cheese. Substitute the parmesan cheese for Pecorino Romano cheese or another similar hard cheese.
  • Meatballs. You can substitute the meatballs for store-bought meatballs in a pinch, but homemade really is the way to go if you have the time!
  • Broth. Swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth or beef broth if you prefer, or use a combination of types. I simply prefer the flavor of chicken broth.
  • Pasta. Any short kind of pasta will work in this recipe.
  • Cheese. A parmesan rind isn’t necessary but adds incredible flavor. If you don’t have one, simply serve it with Parmesan on the side. 
  • Leafy Greens. Use any kind of bitter leafy greens to add color and nutrients to this soup. Kale is another great addition!
  • Garnish. Add some fresh parsley, or fresh dill as a garnish when serving.

Serving Suggestions

While this vegetable soup is hearty and filling, it will also go well with some sides to make it go a bit further.

We always have bread on our dinner table, but it’s especially good with soup to soak up all of the delicious juices. Mom’s Homemade Buns, my Garlic Bread, or these Homemade Breadsticks are great options for dipping.

More Soup Recipes to Try

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Italian Wedding Soup

5 from 9 votes
Italian Wedding Soup is loaded with homemade Italian meatballs, savory veg, umami parmesan, and classic Italian seasoning. It’s one of our favorite soups for lazy winter days, but it’s great for hearty dinners any time of year.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course, Soup
Servings 6 servings
Calories 421cal

Equipment

  • 1 large skillet
  • 1 soup pot or dutch oven
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons

Ingredients

Homemade Meatballs

  • 1 slice soft bread about ¾ cup fluffed bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese fresh if possible
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Italian Wedding Soup

  • 2 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery sliced
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional, but add nice flavor
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Parmesan rind optional but delicious!
  • 1 cup small pasta I used ditalini, but orzo or anything very small will work about 90 grams
  • 2 cups fresh chopped spinach

Instructions

Homemade Meatballs

  • Tear bread into small pieces and place in a food processor (a blender may work). Process until the bread is in fine crumbs, and combine it with water. Stir and let sit for a few minutes. (*If you do not have a food processor, you may also mash the bread with the water until it is in fine crumbs).
  • In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, cheese, eggs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and soaked bread until just combined — don’t overmix!
  • Shape into 1″ balls (I get about 30-35) and place on a plate.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. They do not have to be cooked through. Set aside. (*OPTIONAL: you can also bake the meatballs if you do not want the juices in the soup — see instructions below)

Italian Wedding Soup

  • When you’ve done browning the meatballs, remove all from the pot.
  • Add the carrots, celery, and onion (no need to clean out the pot!) and cook in the leftover fat from the meatballs for about 5 minutes or until softened.
  • Add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, bay leaf, and pepper flakes if using. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in chicken broth and Parmesan rind and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are almost tender.
  • Stir in the uncooked pasta and meatballs. Cover and reduce the heat to medium, then cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.
  • Stir in spinach and serve.

Notes

To bake your meatballs: If you prefer not to have the extra fat and juices from the meatballs in your soup, you can bake them at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until browned on the outside.
Double your meatballs: These meatballs are a half batch of my Homemade Meatball recipe — so it is easily doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled! I love making a big batch of meatballs at once and having a stash in the freezer. See my original meatball post for storage tips.
Storing & Make Ahead:
  • Store: This soup will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge, although the pasta will become softer as it sits. If you prefer, you can cook the pasta separately and add it just before serving.
  • Freeze: This soup can also be frozen. Again, if you are planning to freeze it I would leave the pasta out and add cooked pasta just before serving.
  • Prep Ahead: This recipe is a labor of love but lots can be prepped in advance! Make the meatballs in advance and refrigerate or freeze them. Cut the veggies in advance and refrigerate. Use leftover cooked pasta to cut down cooking time.
 
 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 421cal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 720mg | Potassium: 712mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4547IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 154mg | Iron: 3mg
Keywords italian wedding soup

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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