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This Italian Wedding Soup recipe is loaded with homemade meatballs, acini de pepe pasta, and veggies, in a wonderful savory broth with Parmesan cheese on top. It’s satisfying all year long!

If cold weather has got you feeling chilly and in the need of warming up, be sure to try my One Pot Lasagna SoupChicken Noodle & Dumpling Soup, or Easy Cheesy Taco Soup!

An image of a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup with homemade meatballs.

Why is it that Italians make the best soups? I know our versions are probably fairly americanized, but we just love Zuppa ToscanaSlow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup, and this Easy Minestrone Soup!

During the winter months, I probably make soup at least once or twice a week. It’s one of my favorite dinners with some crusty bread and maybe a salad on the side.

Italian wedding soup is an easy soup that tastes great at any time of the year. It’s hearty and filling despite its broth-like appearance and is packed with veggies and protein.

I used to eat this all the time when I lived in New Jersey where the winter temperatures were freezing and I thought I would never feel warm again.

An image of a bowl of broth-based soup with Italian meatballs and vegetables.

What is Italian Wedding Soup?

Despite the name, Italian wedding soup isn’t actually served at Italian weddings. Supposedly the name comes from the Italian “minestra maritata”, which maybe should be translated as “marriage soup” because it was meant to describe the combination of vegetables and protein in this classic recipe.

Italian wedding soup is a delicious broth soup filled with meatballs (the protein), and spinach (the primary vegetable, although there is also celery and carrots). It is a fantastic soup that is loaded with flavor and texture in every bite. 

An image of a pot of homemade Italian wedding soup next to two bowls of soup.  

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs together with exception to the olive oil. I find this is easiest to do with my hands by squishing until everything is evenly combined. Just try not to overwork the meatballs or they will end up being tough.
  2. Shape the meat mixture into small 1-inch meatballs. I usually end up with about 50-60 meatballs, depending on how small I make them.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add in the meatballs in a single layer and then brown them for 2-3 minutes on each side (the meatballs don’t need to be cooked all the way through, just browned to give them color and flavor). You may need to work in batches to brown all of the meatballs. Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate, draining any grease.
  4. Using the same pot or dutch oven, add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When it is hot, add in the carrots, onion, and the celery. Saute for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
  5. Add in the chicken and the beef broths, along with the basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring the pot to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium. Add in the meatballs and acini de pepe pasta.
  6. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and the pasta is a dente. Stir in the spinach, then serve. Garnish with the fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese.

A collage of images showing how to make Italian wedding soup. An image of a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup with meatballs and spinach.

Tips for Italian Wedding Soup

  • Don’t feel too tied to the recipe. If you have leftover kale, chard, curly endive, cabbage, or escarole in your fridge, go ahead and add that in in place of or along with the spinach. You can pack this soup with as many veggies as you feel like! I used spinach the day I made this batch because that’s what I had on hand, but kale and curly endive are my other go-to choices for Italian wedding soup and they don’t wilt as much so you have more texture to the soup.
  • I made my meatballs with half ground beef and half ground pork, but you could use Italian sausage, all beef, or even substitute ground turkey for a lighter version. You can also make your meatballs larger if you don’t want to bother making tiny meatballs. I just love the little tiny meatballs and it’s how I have always enjoyed Italian meatball soup, which is why I go that route.
  • I typically brown my meatballs for Italian wedding soup in the same pot that I cook the soup in on the stovetop. The fond (those little browned bits on the bottom of the pan) after cooking the meatballs adds wonderful flavor to the soup base. But you could bake the meatballs instead by omitting the oil and cooking them for 12-15 minutes in a 400 degree F oven.
  • I’ve also included Slow Cooker and Instant Pot directions in the recipe notes, since I often get asked about using those two appliances on soup recipes.

How long does homemade soup last in the fridge?

When you keep your soup in a properly sealed container inside our fridge, you can expect it to last up to 4 days and be just fine. 

Can you freeze Italian wedding soup?

You can freeze your soup after it cools. Store your soup in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. 

You can either thaw overnight in the fridge and heat the soup when you’re ready to enjoy it, or you can even dump the frozen soup into a pot (run some hot water around the edge of the container you froze it in to loosen it first), and heat that way.

An image of bowls of Italian meatball soup.

Other Soups You May Enjoy

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Italian Wedding Soup
Yield: 8 servings

Italian Wedding Soup

This Italian Wedding Soup recipe is loaded with homemade meatballs, acini de pepe pasta, and veggies, in a wonderful savory broth with Parmesan cheese on top. It's satisfying all year long!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Soup

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup Acini De Pepe pasta
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, kale, curly endive, chard, or other bitter leafy green

Garnish

  • Additional freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs together except for the olive oil. I find this is easiest to do with my hands by squishing until everything is evenly combined. Just try not to overwork the meatballs or they will be tough.
  2. Shape the meat mixture into small 1-inch meatballs. I usually end up with about 50-60 meatballs, depending on how small I make them.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side (the meatballs don't need to be cooked all the way through, just browned to give them color and flavor). You may need to work in batches to brown all of the meatballs. Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate. Drain any grease.
  4. Using the same pot or dutch oven, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When it is hot, add the carrots, onion, and celery. Saute for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
  5. Add the chicken and beef broths, along with the basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and add the meatballs and acini de pepe pasta. If using a tougher green like kale, chard, or curly endive, add it at this point as well.
  6. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and the pasta is al dente. Stir in the spinach (if using), then serve. Garnish with the freshly parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Notes

  • Orzo pasta or even alphabet pasta can be used in place of the acini de pepe.
  • Oven-Baked Meatballs: You can omit the oil and bake the meatballs first, if you prefer. Just preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, then arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes until mostly cooked. They don't have to cook all the way through because they will finish cooking in the broth.
  • Crock Pot Method: Make the meatballs and brown them in a pan first. Add the meatballs to a large crock pot with all of the remaining soup ingredients except for the pasta and spinach. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 8 hours. Add the acini de pepe pasta and cook on low for 30 minutes, then stir in the spinach and serve.
  • Instant Pot Method: Make the meatballs and brown them in the Instant Pot using 2 tablespoons of oil on the SAUTE setting. Remove the meatballs and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then saute the carrots, onion, and celery for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the browned meatballs and all remaining soup ingredients back into the instant pot except for the acini de pepe pasta and spinach and close the lid, setting the valve to seal. Cook on HIGH manual pressure for 10 minutes, then do a quick release. Add the acini de pepe and use the saute function to cook the soup for 10 minutes until the pasta is done, then stir in the spinach and serve.

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