Italian Wedding Soup
Hearty and filling Italian Wedding Soup made with tender chicken meatballs and tons of veggies! Just one bowl of this stuff will have you feeling warm and cozy!
A warm and hearty bowl of bright and cozy Italian Wedding Soup is exactly what the doctor ordered!
Guys, I’m reporting to you live from the southern Tundra — Houston. We’ve had some unusually crisp winter days here. Not to mention snow; not once, but twice in one winters span. Believe me when I say this, it hasn’t happened in all the time I’ve lived here until now that is. Snow is such a welcoming sight to my sore eyes, but it’s what happens in the south once it snows that is a complete nightmare.
Everything is closed — no seriously. Grocery stores are out of all the essentials, schools refuse to stay open, and work is canceled. People hunker down and pretty much just eat and sleep on repeat. Not that I’m complaining. That’s kinda the life when you’re not sick and you’re doing it out of choice rather than necessity.
On snowy/rainy/windy days, all we want is a warm and snug bowl of Italian Wedding soup because it’s got everything you need. Tiny little specks of pasta, bright green spinach, tender veggies, and perfect chicken meatballs. The kind of food that makes you feel all fuzzy.
Not only is Italian Wedding Soup the perfect meal to make when all of your city is CLOSED down (seriously), it’s also the best kind of comfort food to make when you’ve got someone who’s feeling under the weather in the house.
My Italian Wedding Soup recipe is pretty straightforward; it’s also a nice little project for snow days so grab a helper when you’re making the meatballs, and you’ll have this soup on the table twice as fast.
Though chicken broth from the store is always a good option, I slightly prefer this soup with homemade broth. Which, as soon as we get into October, I’m making boatloads of and hoarding it in my freezer because WINTER is my food season. If you’re looking to make some of your own, here’s how I make broth in the pressure cooker. If I’m not in a hurry, I’ll even let it go low and slow for 8-10 hours on the stove, just bubbling away in the background.
Let us talk about the meatballs for our Italian Wedding Soup. Veal is most traditionally used when making the meatballs but to keep this on the lighter side (and to avoid so much red meat), I swapped it out for ground chicken. You can use ground chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this recipe; both will work. Turkey would work too if that’s more your thing, but I do find it a tad bit difficult to keep it from drying out too much if you use turkey breasts.
I have a BIG tip I want to share with you for when you’re making meatballs. This will work for any kind of meatballs; whether it’s my firecracker chicken meatballs, my stuffed meatballs, or the meatballs used in this soup. The trick to always having tender meatballs is to combine all the ingredients except the ground meat or poultry first, then adding in the meat. By doing this, you have a chance to make sure the breading, eggs, and seasonings are thoroughly mixed and you can take as long as you need, without overworking the meat.
Seriously. It’s a game changer.
One thing I like to do when making Italian Wedding Soup is to sear the meatballs before adding them to the soup. I know, it’s an extra step that you may not necessarily want to do, and I get that, you can skip it if you like, no judgment here!
But if you decide to trust me and sear them before adding them to the soup, you’ll get more flavor development, and it practically costs nothing but a bit of time and a frying pan. I’m a Maillard Reaction junkie; you should know this by now. I’ll happily sear any meat if it makes it look and taste better! 🤷🏻♀️
For the pasta, I used acini di pepe, but pastina or even orzo is fine. Anything small will do the trick.
When you’re ready to serve this Italian Wedding soup, don’t forget a loaf of crusty, rustic bread. We’re doing a low carb diet at the moment so I couldn’t have both bread and pasta in one sitting and still say I’m on this diet. But believe me, I dreamt of dipping that pillowy softness into the soup with every bite that I took.
Without a doubt, seconds are happening so be glad this makes a TON of soup. Leftovers can also be frozen. Just use a little more broth to help bring it back to your desired consistency!
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan (or shredded)
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon onions powder
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon half and half (or milk)
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 pounds ground chicken (or veal or turkey)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups mirepoix (equal parts chopped onions, carrots, celery)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 cup acini di pepe (or orzo)
- 5 ounces baby spinach, chopped
- zest of 1 medium lemon
- Meatballs: Add all the meatball ingredients except the ground chicken in a bowl. Use a fork to mix everything together. Add the ground chicken to the bowl and mix using a spatula until *just* combined. Don't overwork the meat here. Shape a 1/2 tablespoon of meatball mixture into a ball between your palms and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Sear The Meatballs: this is an optional step but it does as more flavor to the soup. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of the oil to the skillet and 1/3 of the prepared meatballs and let them sear for 1-2 minutes (flipping as needed to sear all sides). You don't want to cook the meatballs, just develop color. Place on a large plate, set aside.
- Prepare the soup: Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mirepoix and saute the veggies for 4-5 minutes or until the veggies soften a bit, add the garlic during the last 30 seconds and stir until fragrant. Add the chicken broth along with a cup of water and allow the soup to come to a boil before adding in the pasta. My pasta box said 9 minutes total. During the last 5 minutes or your pastas cooking time, gently add the meatballs to the soup. To help regain a simmer quickly, kick the heat up to high. Test the pasta for doneness, then turn off the heat, stir in the baby spinach and lemon zest. Taste for seasonings and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
- Leftover soup can be refrigerated and reheated with a bit more broth or water to bring it back to your desired consistency. You can also freeze the leftovers! Just be sure to use additional broth to thin when ready to serve.