Warm & Cozy Italian Meatball Soup
Say hello to a warm and comforting bowl of Italian meatball soup! This meal comes complete with homemade meatballs, the most delicious tomato sauce, and cooked pasta! So good it’s sure to become a fall staple!
This recipe is sponsored by our friends over at ALDI. We’re using their high-quality seasonal items and products to make this meatball soup recipe.
Confession: The minute I feel the slightest shift in temperature, I’m over here getting my soup pot out and making a batch of this Italian meatball soup. Never mind the fact that I live in Texas and that the temperature shift is undoubtedly temporary and that we’ll be back to the scorching heat in no time.
For that brief little bit, I’ll put on a pot of homemade soup, light my pumpkin-scented candle, and bust out the fuzzy socks!
Italian meatball soup is loaded with warm bites of tender meatballs with shell-shaped pasta in a tomato base that tastes like it was slow simmered all day long. The onions, garlic, and a few select spices add tons of flavor. Trust me, this is one cozy bowl of soup! And you know what? We’re using minimal ingredients because of a secret little shortcut that I’ll tell you about in just a second.
But can I tell you the best part about it all? You can grab the ingredients over at your local ALDI store! They offer a variety of delicious, high-quality products that won’t break your budget. And if you aren’t shopping in stores right now, you can purchase everything over on Instacart or pick up your groceries curbside at participating ALDI stores. If you haven’t checked out ALDI yet, you can click here to find the location closest to you.
What do you need to make homemade meatballs?
- Garlic + onions: minced garlic and grated onions help add lots of flavor to the meatballs.
- Chopped parsley: adds freshness and brightens up the color as well
- Breadcrumbs: adds texture to the meatballs. I prefer to use Italian breadcrumbs because they contain additional seasonings that help flavor the meatballs further.
- Tomato paste: enhances the tomato flavor. Just a tablespoon worth adds so much delicious flavor to the meatballs.
- An egg: used as a binder. It helps combine the meat, chopped parsley, and breadcrumbs together.
- Ground beef: clearly this is a very important ingredient when making homemade meatballs!
How to make from scratch meatballs:
- Mix like a pro: Combine everything but the ground beef in a bowl using a fork. If you’re wondering why I like to mix everything in a bowl first, it’s because it gives us a chance to mix ingredients as much as we need to incorporate everything before adding the meat. Once you add the ground beef, you only want to mix until *just combined.* Overworking the meat makes the meatballs tough. To keep them tender we add the meat right at the end.
- Roll them into meatballs: Now using a tablespoon to measure, roll the ground beef mixture into meatballs. If you find that the mixture sticks to your hands, use a small drop of oil to rub between your palms before rolling the meatballs. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet until you’re ready to cook. You can even prep and refrigerate them to fry a few hours later!
- Cook them: Heat a tablespoon of oil in the same pot that you intend to make the soup (cuts down on dishes AND adds additional flavor to the soup!) Cook the meatballs for 6 minutes total, flipping them as needed to brown them on all sides. Once browned remove them to a plate. Don’t worry if they aren’t cooked all the way through. We’ll finish cooking them in the soup a little later.
What do you need to make the most delicious Italian meatball soup?
- Olive oil: is used tosauté the aromatics for the soup and to sear off the meatballs
- Chopped onions + minced garlic: add additional flavor to the soup base.
- Tomato paste: packs a more powerful tomato flavor to the soup
- Tomato basil pasta sauce: you read that right! We’re using jars of pasta sauce as a part of the soup base. This adds a wonderful slow-simmered flavor to our meatball soup without actually having to slow simmer the soup for hours upon hours!
- Seasonings: a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and crushed fennel seeds (if you happen to have those on hand.) Adding the seasonings gives this semi-homemade soup base an aromatic and rich flavor
- Broth: You can use chicken or vegetable broth for this recipe, either would work beautifully here!
- Conchiglie pasta: shell-shaped pasta
How to make the soup base for Italian meatball soup:
- Sauté the aromatics: Add a glug of oil to the pan and allow it to heat through. The best part is that we’re going to make the soup in the same pot as we browned the meatballs so this will cut down a bit on clean up! Once the oil is hot, add the onions and let them sweat and sauté for a few minutes. Add the garlic followed by the tomato paste. Browning the tomato paste in oil is a great way to allow all that concentrated tomato flavor to bloom. Season with the red pepper flakes for a little kick and crush the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or between your fingers and add them in. Just a pinch of fennel seeds adds so much delicious, deep flavor to the soup.
- Bring the soup to a boil: Then add in the pasta sauce, broth, a cup of water, and the seared meatballs. Bring the soup to a boil.
- Let it simmer: Once the soup boils, you’ll add in the dry pasta and let it cook through. Ladle the soup into soup bowls, top with chopped parsley, and serve with slices of fresh or toasted sourdough bread for dipping!
FAQs about Italian Meatball soup:
- Should I cook the pasta in the soup if I’m anticipating leftovers or if I’m prepping this for weekly lunches? If you’re anticipating leftovers, feel free to boil the pasta separately according to package directions. Place pasta in bowls then ladle soup on top!
- What if I’m in a big hurry, any suggestions to make this soup faster? ALDI sells Italian-style meatballs that you can prepare according to package directions and use in place of homemade meatballs if you’d like to make this soup faster.
- I’m not a fan of basil, can I use a different pasta sauce? Yes, the Priano line of sauces at ALDI also has a four-cheese sauce and a marinara that would work equally well here if you wanted a flavor other than tomato basil for the soup base.
- Did you toast the sourdough bread?I added a small drizzle of Simply Nature Olive Oil to a warm skillet and toasted the sourdough bread on both sides until golden and crispy. Then I just rubbed the bread with a clove of garlic that I cut in half. You want to rub the cut side on the bread when it’s fresh off the skillet for a delicious garlic toast you can dunk in the soup!
I hope you’ll give this delicious, warm and hearty Italian meatball soup recipe a try soon, it was a big hit for us and I hope it is for you as well!
A big thank you to our friends at ALDI for sponsoring this post! We love working with companies that make good, wholesome products! If you haven’t shopped ALDI before, we’d love for you to check them out! As always all opinions expressed are my own.
- 1 pound Simply Nature Organic 100% Grass-fed Ground Beef
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons grated onions
- ½ cup Chef’s Cupboard Italian Breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Happy Harvest Tomato Paste
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt + ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Simply Nature Olive Oil
- ¾ cup chopped onions
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Happy Harvest Tomato Paste
- 1 ½ jars (36 ounces total) Priano Tomato Basil Sauce
- ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, optional
- Pinch - ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (whatever you can handle!)
- 1 quart Simply Nature Organic Vegetable Broth or Simply Nature Organic Chicken Broth
- 8 ounces of Priano Conchiglie (shell shaped) pasta
- Specially Selected Sourdough Round Loaf, for serving
- MEATBALLS: In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together all the meatball ingredients except the ground beef. When the ingredients are combined, add the ground beef and mix. Just be sure you don’t overwork the meat. Roll into 30-32 meatballs using a tablespoon to measure out the mixture. Set the rolled meatballs aside on a plate or baking sheet.
- COOK THE MEATBALLS: In a 4 ½ quart dutch oven (or larger) heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add roughly half the meatballs (or whatever fits in a single layer with space between the meatballs.) Cook the meatballs, flipping as needed to brown all sides, about 6 minutes. Don’t worry if they haven’t cooked all the way through, we will finished cooking them in the soup. If you need to do this in two batches, add a splash of oil in between if it needs it. Set meatballs aside for now. If you have grease at the bottom of your pan, drain everything but 1 teaspoon’s worth.
- SOUP: Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and allow it to heat through. Sauté the onions for 5 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic and continue to cook for 30 seconds. When the garlic is fragrant, add the tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Crush the fennel seeds between your fingers (or in a mortar and pestle) then add them in (if using) and sauté it for 30 seconds. Add the pasta sauce, broth, 1 cup of water, and the seared meatballs. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta and reduce the heat to medium so it simmers. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is tender and cooked through. If the soup seems a little thick, feel free to add up to 1 cup of water to thin it to your liking. Be sure to bring it back to a boil if you add any more water! Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Ladle the soup into soup bowls, top with chopped parsley, and serve with slices of fresh bread (garlic toast recipe in notes.)
- For garlic toast: add a glug of olive oil to a warm skillet and toast a few slices of sourdough bread on both sides until golden and crispy. Rub the bread with a cut clove of garlic when it's fresh off the skillet for a delicious garlic toast you can dunk in the soup!
- If you are anticipating leftovers: feel free to boil the pasta separately according to package directions. Place pasta in bowls then ladle soup on top.