Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup



8 oz lean ground beef

8 oz ground pork

1/2 cup fresh hearty white bread crumbs*

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano

1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan

1 large egg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil


1 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/4 cups 1/4-inch diced carrots

1 1/4 cups diced yellow onion

3/4 cup 1/4-inch diced celery

4 cloves garlic , minced (1 1/2 Tbsp)

5 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup dry acini de pepe or orzo pasta**

6 oz fresh spinach , chopped

Finely shredded parmesan , for serving


For the meatballs:

Add beef and pork to a large mixing bowl.

Add in bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, parmesan, egg, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Gently toss and break up mixture with hands to evenly coat and distribute.

Shape mixture into very small meatballs, about 3/4 inch to 1 inch and transfer to a large plate.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add half of the meatballs and cook until browned, turning occasionally (to brown on 2 or 3 sides), about 4 minutes total.

Transfer meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels while leaving oil in skillet.

Repeat process with remaining meatballs (note that meatballs won’t be cooked through at this point, they’ll continue to cook through in the soup).

For the soup:

While meatballs are browning, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add carrots, onions and celery and saute until veggies have softened about 6 – 8 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Pour in chicken broth, season soup with salt and pepper to taste and bring mixture to a boil.

Add in pasta and meatballs, reduce heat to light boil (about medium or medium-low).

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender and meatballs have cooked through, about 10 minutes, while adding in spinach during the last minute of cooking.

Serve warm, sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese.


Meatball Preparation: The meatballs are a blend of lean ground beef and ground pork, seasoned with fresh herbs like parsley and oregano, along with breadcrumbs for binding and parmesan for flavor. They are cooked until browned in olive oil, adding richness and depth to the soup.

Soup Base: The soup begins with a base of diced carrots, onions, celery, and garlic sautéed in olive oil. This aromatic mixture forms the flavorful foundation of the soup, providing a balance of sweetness and savory notes.

Chicken Broth: Low-sodium chicken broth serves as the liquid base for the soup, contributing a rich, savory flavor. This can be substituted with regular chicken or vegetable broth, but adjustments to seasoning may be needed to prevent over-salting.

Pasta and Spinach: The addition of acini de pepe or orzo pasta adds heartiness to the soup, while fresh spinach contributes vibrant color and nutritional value. These ingredients are cooked in the broth along with the meatballs until tender.

Garnish: The soup is served warm, garnished with finely shredded parmesan cheese, adding a creamy and tangy finish to each serving.

Nutrition: With lean meats, vegetables, and low-sodium broth, this soup is relatively low in calories and high in protein. It offers a balanced combination of carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients like iron and calcium.

Versatility: The recipe offers flexibility for customization, such as using ground turkey instead of pork for a leaner option, or adapting the soup for vegetarian preferences by omitting the meatballs and using vegetable broth.

Make-Ahead: Both the meatballs and the soup itself can be prepared in advance and frozen for later use, offering convenience for busy schedules or meal planning.

Herb Substitution: Dried oregano can be used as a substitute for fresh oregano, with guidelines provided for the appropriate conversion. This allows for adaptability based on ingredient availability.

Lean Protein Options: Ground chicken or turkey can be used as alternatives to beef and pork for the meatballs, providing lighter options without compromising flavor or texture.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 390 calories | Total Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 895mg | Total Carbohydrates: 23g | Dietary Fiber: 2g | Sugars: 3g | Protein: 24g | Vitamin D: 0mcg | Calcium: 204mg | Iron: 3mg | Potassium: 400mg

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use ground turkey instead of ground pork for the meatballs?

Yes, you can substitute ground turkey for ground pork if you prefer a leaner option.

The flavor may be slightly different, but it can still work well in this soup.

What can I use as a replacement for acini de pepe or orzo pasta?

If you can’t find acini de pepe or orzo pasta, you can use other small pasta shapes like ditalini, small shells, or mini farfalle (bowtie) pasta as a substitute.

Can I make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them?

Yes, you can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them before cooking.

Simply shape the meatballs, place them on a baking sheet, and freeze until firm.

Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.

When ready to use, you can cook them directly from frozen in the soup, but you may need to extend the cooking time slightly.

Can I use chicken or vegetable broth instead of low-sodium chicken broth?

Yes, you can use regular chicken or vegetable broth if you prefer or if that’s what you have on hand.

Just be mindful of the salt content and adjust the seasoning accordingly to avoid over-salting the soup.

Is there a vegetarian version of Italian Wedding Soup?

Yes, you can make a vegetarian version of this soup by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and omitting the meatballs.

You can replace the meatballs with vegetarian meatballs or simply add more vegetables and pasta for a hearty vegetarian option.

What’s the origin of Italian Wedding Soup, and why is it called that?

Italian Wedding Soup is an Italian-American dish traditionally served at weddings, hence the name.

Despite its name, the soup doesn’t actually have a direct connection to weddings in Italy.

It’s believed that the name may have originated from the “marriage” of flavors between the ingredients, such as the meatballs and greens.

Can I make the meatballs in advance and freeze them for later use?

Yes, you can prepare the meatballs in advance and freeze them.

Shape the meatballs, arrange them on a baking sheet, and freeze until firm.

Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.

When you’re ready to use them, you can add them directly to the soup from the freezer; just be prepared for slightly longer cooking time.

What can I use as a substitute for fresh oregano?

If you don’t have fresh oregano, you can use dried oregano as a substitute.

Typically, you can use about one-third the amount of dried oregano called for in the recipe.

For this recipe, you would use about 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano.

Can I use chicken or turkey instead of beef and pork for the meatballs?

Yes, you can use ground chicken or ground turkey as a leaner alternative to beef and pork for the meatballs.

The flavor profile will be slightly different, but it can still be delicious.

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