Italian wedding soup recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Italian wedding soup recipe

I love new beginnings and thankfully we have so many opportunities to start fresh.  For me, the first day of school, beginning of summer, first day of spring and of course, January 1st are all times of the year when I take a minute to regroup, reflect and think about what I’d like to do better or differently.  I even think of Sundays in the same way, a time to prepare for the week ahead.  I am an obsessive list-maker so I start with my menu for the week, as well as errands that need to get done, calls to be made, projects that need to be completed, etc.  But January 1st is a day when I think about bigger goals whether it’s being more physically active, learning how to meditate, eating dinner as a family 5 nights a week, or stepping away from the computer by 8:00 pm each night (sounds like a dream, yes?).

Most people I know make resolutions about food and their health or just take this time after holiday indulging to cleanse or go on a diet.  I’ve never been able to restrict my daily fuel consumption to juices for a few days without becoming a complete raging you-know-what, so instead I try to return our diet to lighter, but always nourishing foods.  It is still the middle of winter after all, and too many cold and raw foods may leave you feeling imbalanced and out of harmony with nature.

I recently spent the week with my family in NY and had a great time cooking with my mom and sisters.  I think we made a soup or stew every single day for either lunch or dinner.  Kids usually like soups, especially if you let them add fun foods on top like tortilla chips, popcorn or shredded cheese.  Soups are also a great opportunity to get in some homemade stock which is such a great immune booster at the time of the year when we need it most.  I’d like to share with you one of my kids’ favorites, Italian Wedding Soup.  Honestly, I didn’t do my homework here and I can’t tell you the origins of the name, but you can call it whatever you like, including “chicken soup with baby meatballs” which is what Mr. Picky calls it.  He ate three bowls of this the other day which makes me happier than getting into my skinny jeans.  If you have a picky eater, you know what I’m talking about.

My grandma used to make a version of this with small pasta and escarole, but I think white beans are much more nutritious than pasta.  The way I prepare this here is rather brothy, but I don’t see why you couldn’t add more vegetables or beans and make it heartier.  Either way, whenever I eat this, it always feels like a big loving hug and I can’t think of a better way to start a new year.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Italian Wedding Soup
Serves: 8
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ of an onion, grated
  • ¼ cup dry whole grain bread crumbs (purchased or just toast fresh breadcrumbs)
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs (1 slice of bread, hard crusts removed, processed in food processor)
  • ⅓ cup Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 10 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 ½ cups cooked cannellini beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed**
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, stems trimmed or 1 head escarole, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano, plus extra for garnish
  1. To make the meatballs, stir the first five ingredients in a bowl to blend. Add the remaining meatball ingredients and combine well with your hands. Using a half tablespoon or a mini-ice cream scooper, scoop the meat mixture into your hands and from them into 1-inch diameter meatballs. Set aside on a plate or baking sheet.
  2. To make the soup, warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the broth, beans and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and carefully add the meatballs (if using escarole, add this now too.) Lower to a simmer and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spinach and grated cheese and cook until spinach is just wilted.
  5. Taste for seasoning. Serve with additional grated cheese, if desired.
*To make this vegetarian, use your favorite vegetarian meatballs and vegetable broth.

**Traditionally served with ditalini or pastina. If you prefer to use pasta, add already cooked pasta to the soup and the end with the spinach. Another option is to add cooked Arborio rice or green peas.


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  1. This soup is soooo good. I use ground chicken for the meatballs. My family loves it- light but hearty!

    • Sounds fantastic!

  2. Hi, Pamela,
    Have you ever made this soup with ground chicken? Was thinking of using that since it’s it on sale at my local store. My daughter loves this soup and I am excited to try your version! Thanks!

    • I have and it’s just as delicious! I prefer darker meat as it tends to be more moist.

      • Good to know thanks so much for the quick response…looking forward to making it tomorrow!

  3. Hi, Pamela,
    Have you ever made this with ground chicken? Was thinking I might try that since ground chicken is on sale. My daughter loves this soup…can’t wait to try your version!

  4. Another great soup! My son loves meatballs so he loved it even though he ate all the meatballs first and then the rest of the soup. Both of my kids had gotten the stomach flu so this was the perfect soup to have as a first meal. It was quick and easy to make and so tasty.

    • Hands down my son’s favorite soup! Hope everyone is feeling better.

  5. Hi. We are loving your recipes and meal planning. Thanks so much for all the time and effort!
    I have a question about this recipe. Would it be ok to use vegetable stock if that’s what I have on hand? I can use store bought chicken stock but I don’t have time to make the chicken stock today. I’ve gotten your message about the value of homemade stock so I’m conflicted.Thanks!

    • Thank you and you’re welcome! Good tasting veggie stock would be just fine here. The key is you have to like the way the stock tastes because you’re not blending it with anything or overwhelming it with strong flavors. It will be a different soup with veggie, but it will work!

  6. I LOVE this recipe and so do my kids. My son was diagnosed with celiac and when I tried to make the meatballs with gluten free breadcrumbs they dissolved in the soup. Do you have any suggestions for a breadcrumb sub that would hold up- cooked quinoa perhaps? Thanks!

    • I would suggest two things to try: first, try making your own GF breadcrumbs with gluten-free bread (unless you did that already.) For fresh breadcrumbs, just tear the bread and process in a blender or food processor. For dried, take the fresh bread crumbs and toast them in the oven. Or second, try pan frying the meatballs to get them a little crisp on the outside and then just add them to the soup and warm through. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  7. Hi pamela!
    I just made this and it was DELICIOUS! Perfect for a cold night of Oscar watching. I just had a clarifying question for when I make again. I know 1/3 of a cup of cheese goes into the meatballs, but does it also go into the soup as well, or just 2 tablespoons? The ingredient list for the soup part calls for 1/3 of a cup as well as 2TBS so I just wanted to clarify!
    Thanks so much for another great recipe!

    • Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention! It’s 1/3 cup in the meatballs and 2 Tablespoons in the soup (although I don’t think an extra 1/3 cup in the soup would be bad!). Fixing it now!

      • Haha I actually went with 1/3 in the soup because..,why not?! 😉 Thanks for getting back to me! Again, so delish.

  8. This is on my plan of things to do this morning!! This soup is wonderful and will be perfect during the blizzard that is on the way.

    • Oh you poor people! I hope the soup provides some comfort during this crazy weather you’re getting….again!

  9. I made this tonight for my family. EVERYONE at the table loved it…this doesn’t happen often. I think the homemade chicken stock really helps. It was delicious. Thank you!

    • Big smiles! Homemade chicken stock totally makes a difference in a soup like this. Hooray!

  10. My Italian grandmother made this too, with yours truly making the meatballs! I love the more healthy version of yours and can’t wait to try it!
    Thank you and Happy New Year!

    • What a sweet memory — made me smile! Thank you, Andrea!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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