Skip to Content

Delicious Recipe for Italian Wedding Soup (with Amazing Chicken Meatballs)

Make a big batch of Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs to warm up on a cold winter’s day! Next time you’re craving a bowl of comforting soup, give this delicious recipe a try. You’ll love the tender meatballs and flavorful broth! Serve with crusty bread or a green side salad for a full meal.

white bowl with italian wedding soup and chicken meatballs

Why Is it Called Italian Wedding Soup?

This classic Italian soup has absolutely nothing to do with weddings and isn’t served at Italian weddings!

The name is derived from the words ‘minestra maritata,‘ translating to married soup. The meaning of the recipe’s name is referencing the marriage of the ingredients that result in the delicious flavor.

Wedding Soup began as a typical dish prepared by peasant cooks and was a way to use up inexpensive ingredients, leftovers, and scraps of meat.

Creating This Italian Wedding Meatball Soup

Homemade soup, like this Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs, is the obvious answer for cold weather. And not just because such recipes warm the body.

This time of year things start to get a little boring in the produce department at the grocery store, at least to me.

The holidays are over and the novelty of winter food will soon start to wear off, and we’ll be craving fresh, bright flavors of spring again.

I love that this Italian wedding meatball soup helps stretch out the produce that is available.

You can come up with so many different one-pot concoctions using what often feels like a very similar ingredient list and nearly identical preparation techniques.

ingredients needed to make italian wedding soup

Why I Love this Homemade Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

3 reasons why I think this is the best Italian Wedding Soup

  1. Hearty soup, like this Italian Wedding Soup, is pure comfort food on a cold day. Nothing beats a bowl of warm soup on a snowy day!
  2. This recipe for Italian Wedding Soup is packed with flavor! It might not be the most traditional recipe, but I think the additions make it extra flavorful.
  3. You can easily simplify a few steps and make the meatballs in advance if you have time constraints when preparing this classic soup recipe.

Ingredients for Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs

This easy wedding soup has two components: the chicken meatballs and the soup itself.

To make the homemade Italian wedding soup, you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Chicken Broth, Chicken Stock, or Vegetable Broth
  • Water
  • Celery
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh parsley
  • Dried Italian seasoning
  • Acini de Pepe
  • Fresh spinach

To make the wedding soup meatballs, you’ll need:

  • Ground chicken
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Eggs
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh parsley
  • Dried Italian seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

ingredients to make chicken meatballs for italian wedding soup

What is the best pasta to use in Italian Wedding Soup

Acini de Pepe is my favorite pasta to use because it is what’s traditional. If you can’t find acini de pepe, there are plenty of other options to try. You could use orzo, mini shells, ditalini, pearl couscous, or any tiny shaped pasta when making this classic soup.

What Other Leafy Greens Can Be Used in this Recipe

I prefer to use baby spinach in this Italian Wedding Soup but you can also use escarole, chard, or dinosaur kale.

You can also use frozen spinach or frozen kale in this recipe for wedding soup if necessary. Just be sure to thaw it and squeeze out the excess moisture before adding it to the soup.

Do I Have to Use Ground Chicken In the Meatballs?

No, you do not have to use ground chicken. You can substitute ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork, or a combination of ground meat when making these mini meatballs.

ingredients showing steps to make italian wedding soup recipe

How to Make Italian Wedding Meatball Soup

Making homemade wedding soup is very easy. I walk you through the process step by step in the recipe card below, but here’s a quick overview:

  1. Prepare the wedding soup meatballs: I’ve given detailed instructions in the recipe card below. The homemade meatballs must be baked until done before being stirred into the soup.
  2. Make the soup: In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until tender.
  3. Next, add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and saute for 2 more minutes.
  4. Then, add the broth, water, and tomatoes to the stockpot. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, parsley, and seasonings.
  5. Cook at a simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
  6. Add the baked chicken meatballs and cook over low heat for an additional 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  7. Add the greens and cook until they are wilted.
  8. Stir in the al dente cooked pasta into the simmering broth just before serving and cook only until heated through.

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

cooking meatballs for italian wedding soup

Make Ahead Tips for the Italian Wedding Soup

Looking for some time saving tips when preparing this recipe? Here are my suggestions:

  • Chop all of the veggies ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days until you plan to prepare the soup.
  • Prepare the meatball mixture earlier in the day and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook the meatballs.
  • Make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them until making the soup. See notes in the recipe card about freezing meatballs.
  • Cook the pasta ahead of time! Rinse in cool water to cool it completely, then toss it with a small amount of oil so that it doesn’t stick together when stored in the fridge.

Can Italian Wedding Soup Be Made in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

I haven’t tried these methods, but I don’t see why not! If making this Italian wedding meatball soup recipe in a slow cooker, I would add the pasta at the very end or cook it separately and then stir it in.

Tips for Delicious Homemade Italian Wedding Soup

Follow these tips for the best results when preparing this recipe for Italian Wedding Soup:

1. Start with Tasty Liquids

Rich, homemade broth is always ideal, but if you’re short on time or without access I like to use high quality store bought broths.

I prefer either Better than Bouillon Organic Bases or Pacific Natural Foods Organic Broths.

3. Brown the Meatballs

The browned bits left in the bottom of the pan after browning the meatballs will build the flavor of the soup even more. Then you can deglaze those brown bits left behind in the bottom of the pot with a little cooking wine or broth.

2. Sweat the Mirepoix and Aromatics

I consider them the soup basics: onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cooking these ingredients for about 5 minutes over medium heat before adding the liquid will deepen the flavor of the soup.

When I was a young(er), inexperienced cook I made the mistake of thinking soup was all the ingredients dumped into a pot of broth. Soup made that way just doesn’t taste as good!

3. Add the Herbs at the Right Time

Fresh herbs should be added at the end of cooking, just prior to serving so you don’t lose all of their flavor. Dried herbs are great for adding early on because they’re better able to hold flavor for long cooking periods.

4. Simmer Low and Slow

I like to allow my soups so simmer for a longer period of time rather than quickly boiling them to get the vegetables tender. Yet again…you’ll get more flavor development this way.

an overhead image of a large pot of italian wedding soup

Dietary Modifications for this Italian Wedding Soup

Are you gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian? Here are my suggested modifications for the most common dietary restrictions:

Gluten-Free Wedding Soup

Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed gluten-free crackers in the meat mixture when preparing the little meatballs.

If you aren’t able to find these options, considering making your own gluten-free breadcrumbs. Use your favorite gluten-free bread to make these easy homemade croutons. Then, when the croutons have cooled, run them through the food processor until they are finely crushed.

Lastly, you’ll also need to substitute a gluten-free small pasta in place of the acini de pepe pasta.

How to Make this Recipe for Wedding Soup Dairy-Free

The only dairy in the meatball ingredients is the parmesan cheese. You can obtain flavorful meatballs without the use of parmesan by substituting an equal amount of nutritional yeast.

Modifications for a Vegetarian Wedding Soup Recipe

If you are vegetarian and wish to make this soup without the meat, you can leave out the small meatballs and use Vegetable Broth. Or, you can also look for a plant-based meatball at your local grocery store.

The soup won’t have as much flavor when made this way, however. The chicken broth has a lot more flavor than vegetable broth. Unfortunately, you’ll also miss out on the flavor that the browned bits from the chicken meatballs add to the soup.

What to Serve with this Recipe for Wedding Soup

I think that this Wedding Soup Recipe has plenty of veggies in it that you don’t have to serve a vegetable on the side. But, a side salad pairs wonderfully. Try my Italian Mixed Greens Salad or this Copy Cat Olive Garden Salad.

I definitely recommend serving a loaf of crusty bread alongside this great recipe! And, if you’re up for baking homemade, these are my favorite recipes:

woman holding a spoon with a meatball in it over a white bowl with italian wedding soup

Can You Freeze this Italian Wedding Soup?

Although you can technically freeze this recipe, I don’t recommend freezing soups with cooked pasta because the texture changes during the freezing and reheating process.

However, if you’re planning to batch cook and freeze this recipe, or maybe you just want to freeze some leftovers, it is best to cook the pasta at a later date and add it in when you plan to eat the soup.

Here is more information on How to Freeze Soup.

Rave Reviews from Readers

I just made this and it is delicious!! I cheated and used beef instead of chicken. These are the best meatballs I have ever made. Thank You!!” — Cindy

I made this tonight, only with turkey meatballs. It was FANTASTIC. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m so excited to stash the leftovers in the freezer for a quick, yummy dinner down the road!” — Aldebaran

This soup is so wonderful! Just made it for the first time. What a great broth flavor and the chicken meatballs had a fabulous flavor. This is my new Italian Wedding Soup recipe – thanks so much!!!” — Debbie

I just made this soup… BEST BROTH in the world. I can’t get over how good the broth is! I think it might be the Balsamic. Anyway, thank you for this amazing recipe, I substituted pork sausage for the chicken but other than that I kept it the same and it was amazing, THANK YOU!” — Cait

Delicious Recipe for Italian Wedding Soup (with Amazing Chicken Meatballs)

white bowl with italian wedding soup and chicken meatballs

More Easy Winter Soup Recipes:

Looking for more delicious soup recipes that the whole family will love? Here are a few of my favorites:

Hearty Tomato Florentine Soup is loaded with pasta, diced tomatoes, and spinach for a simple but filling recipe you can make with pantry staples!

Fresh kale, cannellini beans, and sweet Italian sausage combine to make the best Italian Sausage Kale White Bean Soup. This is an easy one-pot soup recipe that takes just 30 minutes to prepare!

This Smoked Sausage and Lentil Soup is packed with lentils, hearty winter vegetables, smoked sausage, and spices. It’s a freezer-friendly recipe that’s great for meal prepping!

Roasted butternut squash and garlic are pureed with onion, carrot, broth, and half and half for a silky smooth, creamy, savory Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. Top it with bacon and sage for perfection.

This Italian Sausage Soup with Orzo is a great clean out the fridge recipe! It’s packed with veggies, Italian sausage, orzo, and more!

Get More Recipes via Email

Did you love this recipe? Sign up to receive Good Life Eats Email Updates and never miss another recipe!

white bowl with italian wedding soup and chicken meatballs

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Make a big batch of Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs to warm up on a cold winter's day! Serve with bread or a green side salad for a full meal.

Ingredients

For the Chicken Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

For the Soup:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped (about 3-4 whole carrots)
  • 5 - 7 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or a combination (according to how broth-y you like your soup
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 - 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with basil and garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
  • 8 ounces already cooked acini de pepe, or other small pasta
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach, swiss chard, kale or escarole, chopped

Instructions

For the Chicken Meatballs:

  1. Combine breadcrumbs, eggs, Parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper with the ground chicken. Mix well.
  2. Form into small balls, about 1 tablespoon of mixture per meatball. Roll into balls and place on the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of a large, heavy bottom soup pot. Heat the oil over medium heat. When the pan and oil are hot, add the meatballs working in batches if necessary so the pan doesn’t overcrowd.
  4. Cook the meatballs until browned on all sides, about 5-10 minutes (depending on the size). Transfer cooked meatballs to a plate and start the next batch.
  5. When the meatballs are all cooked, set the aside on a plate and use the same pot to begin preparing the soup.

For the Soup:

  1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the carrot and celery and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the broth, water, and tomatoes to the stockpot. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, parsley, and seasonings. Cook at a simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
  4. Add the meatballs and cook over low heat for an additional 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the greens and cook until they are heated through and wilted. Stir in the pasta just before serving and cook only until heated through.
  6. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.

Notes

For Make Ahead Freezer Meatballs

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs, eggs, Parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper with the ground chicken. Mix well. 
  3. Form into small balls, about 2 teaspoons of mixture per meatball. Roll into balls and place on the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  4. Bake meatballs at 350 degrees F until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. To test doneness, cut one meatball in half. If no pink remains, the meatballs are done.

Note: Browning the meatballs in the soup pot adds more flavor to the soup, but sometimes baking the meatballs is nice because you can do that ahead of time and freeze them.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 695Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 249mgSodium 1098mgCarbohydrates 46gFiber 7gSugar 7gProtein 58g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

Try this recipe for Classic Italian Wedding Soup at Home!

I hope this becomes one of your favorite soups to make during the cooler months. If you do try it, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see.

On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this delicious white cheddar macaroni and cheese recipe!

Debbie Perri

Sunday 4th of February 2018

This soup is so wonderful! Just made it for the first time. What a great broth flavor and the chicken meatballs had a fabulous flavor. This is my new Italian Wedding Soup recipe - thanks so much!!!

Katie

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

Glad you liked it!

Jenn

Monday 2nd of February 2015

I was wondering if this would do well in a slow cooker?

Katie Goodman

Wednesday 4th of February 2015

I haven't tried it but I don't see why not. I would add the orzo at the very end or cook it separately and stir it in.

Cait Ellis

Monday 23rd of April 2012

I just made this soup... BEST BROTH in the world. I can't get over how good the broth is! I think it might be the Balsamic. Anyway, thank you for this amazing recipe, I substituted pork sausage for the chicken but other than that I kept it the same and it was amazing, THANK YOU!

lannie

Thursday 26th of January 2012

this looks so yummy and perfect for the cold weather!

Aldebaran

Tuesday 17th of January 2012

I made this tonight, only with turkey meatballs. It was FANTASTIC. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm so excited to stash the leftovers in the freezer for a quick, yummy dinner down the road!

Skip to Recipe