Soup is a mood. There’s nothing like making a large pot of it, enjoying it for lunch or dinner, and storing the rest for a later day when you’re ready to get cozy with it all over again.

Not only is comfort soul food, but you can make it light or hearty with lots of flavors and texture.

One soup that I had always wanted to make is an Italian wedding soup recipe.

Italian Wedding Soup

Intrigued by it, and since I had made lots of little meatballs the last time I made Individual Meatloaf, the time came to try it in my kitchen.

I began the process of searching for recipes, and I dashed to all my Italian cooking books. Searching through “The Italian Academy of Cuisine,” I realized there are as many versions as there are regions in the North and South of Italy.

I include, with this recipe, my recipe for meatballs. If time is pressing, store-bought meatballs from your local Italian supermarket will work fine.

In this Article

Why do they call it wedding soup?

This Italian wedding soup history goes back to the last century when immigrants left Italy to come to the States.

As I have come to learn,  this soup it has nothing to do with “weddings.” It was actually mistranslated when the immigrants brought it to the United States.

Originally, this ancient Neapolitan soup was called ” minestra maritata”, which translated to “married soup,” not wedding soup.

It refers to the combination or marriage of inexpensive meats and leafy greens, which make up the soup’s main ingredient The only thing close to a wedding is that the vegetables and meats are married perfectly together.

Working with what is available in my pantry, I am sharing this recipe for Italian wedding soup with you.

What are wedding soup meatballs made of?

Traditionally the meatballs are made of pork, veal, and beef. Modern cooks opted more for beef and ground chicken in place of veal.

The critical thing to remember is to make tightly packed meatballs that will hold together.

I use an ice cream scooper to make them all the same size.

What pasta to use for Italian wedding soup?

My preference is absolutely acini de pepe. Acini de pepe are small round pasta found in most grocery stores.

Orzo is an excellent substitute. Or you can use conchiglie, which are tiny shells. Farfalline, a little farfalle pasta, works well, too.

Really, any small pasta will mingle well with the tiny meatballs in this savory soup.

Italian Wedding Soup

Why You’ll Love Italian Wedding Soup

Flavorful – With mildly seasoned meatballs and plenty of spices and veggies, this soup has layers of flavor.

Customizable – You can spice this soup up or change up the ingredients to make it your own.

Comforting – Meatballs may be at the top of the comfort food list — who doesn’t love hunkering down into some spaghetti and meatballs, right?

This soup is an easy way into mouthwatering meatballs and veggies that are swimming an unforgettable broth.

Here are a few helpful tips for the ingredients needed

Simple ingredients make the best soup. I have included the meatballs recipe if you have time to make them. Below are a few of my suggestions.

If you already have them in the freezer from my previous recipe, skip to the Soup part.

Meatballs:

Ground meats: A mixture of ground beef and ground pork sausage is used in this recipe. You can substitute the meat with ground turkey or ground chicken. If time is not on your side, store-bought meatballs are a great alternative.

Breadcrumbs: Stale or old bread never goes to waste, as I use my food processor to make breadcrumbs. Store-bought breadcrumbs: Buy the one that will not contain any herbs or seasoning. I found that they deter from the flavor of a dish.

Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated is my preference. It also adds natural saltiness to this dish.

Egg: yes, a must! It is the binding agent between the meat and all the ingredients.

Parsley: Finely chop as you do not want to bite into a chunk. My favorite with most Italian cooking. Flat leave gives the best savory fragrance to all my food.

Soup:

Shallots: I use them interchangeably as I love the mild flavor it gives your cooking.

Fresh basil:  not negotiable as the intense flavor is another layer of savory to this soup.

Carrot: clean, peel, and thinly slice. You can dice them as well. I find that by slicing thinly, they cook faster. A mandoline is perfect here for slicing them thin and even.

Spinach: Fresh, wash, and stem removed.

Broth: I always purchase sodium-free broth. Easier to season my food and less sodium in my body. Rest assured, the flavor is never compromised.

Pasta: Acini di pepe is the original pasta for this dish. Any small-shaped pasta can be used as a substitute.

Parmesan cheese: Lots and lots of it.

Italian Wedding Soup
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Cooking tips and step by step to make this fabulous wedding soup recipe

A few key ingredients make this excellent Italian wedding soup stand out from the pack of soups. Check out the recipe card for all of the details.

  • Please start with the meatballs: Make them small, 1/2 to 1 inch, and not larger. This is soup; therefore, you should be able to eat them with your spoon and not have to split them with a fork and knife because they are too big. Enjoy the large meatballs with a bowl of pasta.
  • Searing the meatballs with the vegetables is a huge game-changer for me. The added flavor to your soup is out of this world. All the flavors are uplifted while searing them — use olive oil or your oil of choice. Once you add the broth, they all come together magically.
  • Once you add the broth, bring to a boil. Add the pasta. Once the pasta is tender, add the spinach and stir until well combined. If you’re using other fresh herbs, now is the time to add them.
  • Parmesan cheese: Add lots and lots of it. It compliments this soup nicely.
  • I like to perfect the level of seasoning just before serving. The basil and parmesan cheese bring intense flavors to the table, so I will add enough salt and pepper to balance out this Italian wedding soup recipe.
Italian Wedding Soup

Homemade or store-bought meatballs?

Time permitting, always make your meatballs at home. I make different sizes for different dishes. Larger size meatballs for pasta. Small for soup.

  • Meatballs freeze well. Therefore, I will advise you to freeze the amount needed for each meal. Wrap them on parchment paper or shrink-wrap them; they will be ready to be enjoyed in minutes.
  • Bring the broth, meatballs, and vegetables to a boil. Add the pasta. Once the pasta is tender, add the spinach and stir until well combined.
  • Parmesan cheese: Lots and lots of it. It compliments this soup nicely.

I like to rectify the season just before serving. The basil and parmesan cheese being intense flavors, will add enough saltiness and a dash of pepper flavor to this wedding soup recipe.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Can you make this Italian wedding soup ahead of time?

Yes, you can.

Sear your meatballs and vegetables. Add the broth and cook until simmering. You can stop here and refrigerate or freeze.

Bring back to room temperature before returning to a simmer, and add your pasta to i.

What to Serve With Italian Wedding Soup

Italian wedding soup is a hearty bowl of comfort all on its own. However, you can use it as a starter for meals like lasagne al forno, chicken parmigiana, or penne alla vodka.

It’s also perfect when paired with a panzanella caprese salad, fig and goat cheese salad, or cheese rosemary breadsticks

Substitution and suggestions

Although, I am completely mesmerized by all the variations of legumes and different meats used. Here are some of the most popular substitutions:

  • From fennel and cabbage to broccoli rabe.
  • From pork and eggs to chicken giblets.
  • Bread, rice soup, pasta.
  • Spinach can be substituted with kale. The kale must be added along with the pasta, which will need a longer cooking time. The spinach is idyllic as it takes seconds to cook.

However, all have the same common ingredient: Lots of grated Parmesan Cheese.

If you desire brothier soup, you can reduce e the amount of pasta to 3/4 cup.

Remember that the pasta will absorb more broth as the soup sits. Add more broth to thin the soup to your desired consistency.

Italian Wedding Soup

If you enjoy this delicious Italian wedding soup, look at some of my other recipes!

Ricotta Meatballs With Simple Tomato Sauce

Tomato Soup

Creamy Watercress Soup

Spaghetti Meatballs – Everyone Favorite

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a substitute for escarole in Italian wedding soup? 

Italian wedding soup can call for escarole or kale which both can have bitter qualities and take longer to cook down. If you’re looking for an easy substitute, this recipe is for you — spinach is the perfect, easy-to-cook green to use in your Italian wedding soup. 

What wine goes with Italian wedding soup? 

Wine pairing often depends on your palate, but for reds you can choose a bold variety like Barolo or a cabernet sauvignon. Crisp whites work well, too — consider pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc.

Storage instructions and how to reheat this wedding soup recipe

Make and sear the meatballs ahead of time. You can even make the entire recipe up to adding the pasta. Remember, the past will expand and absorb most of your broth as it continues cooking.

It will be best to add the pasta just before serving.

Store: Seal in an airtight glass container and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days.

Freeze: Place in a freezer-safe glass container for up to 3 months.

Reheat: Return to room temperature and reheat it on the stove if this is a leftover with the pasta, mind adding more broth to thin it out.


Italian Wedding Soup

5 from 11 votes
Italian Wedding Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
The BEST Italian Wedding Soup! Filled with homemade meatballs, fresh vegetables and tiny bits of pasta. Total comfort food any day of the year!

Ingredients 

WEDDING SOUP INSTRUCTIONS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 24 meatballs, or 24 ½ -inch in diameter prepared meatballs
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup acini di pepe pasta
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese, Freshly grated to taste

MEATBALLS INSTRUCTIONS ( only if you want to make them at home)

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • ½ pound ground pork sausage
  • 2 shallots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 slice slice of bread, white bread, torn into small bite size
  • 2 tablespoons Italian fresh parsley, finely chopped.
  • Worcestershire sauce, a few dashes
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

WEDDING SOUP INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a soup pot, combine olive oil, basil, and shallots over medium-high heat. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add carrots, meatballs, and chicken broth.
  • When the mixture begins to simmer, stir in the pasta. Cook for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender.
  • Add chopped fresh spinach cover and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with parmesan.

MEATBALLS INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cook onion in olive oil until translucent. When they are ready, let them rest until cool off.
  • Meanwhile, put the slices of bread with the milk. Mix well until the bread absorbs all the milk.
  • Add the parsley, blend them well and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add all the other ingredients to the bread-milk mixture and mix well.
  • With an ice cream scooper big enough to make ½ inch meatball, scoop up the meat, and roll it in between the palm of your hand to form a small ball.

Nutrition

Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 1200mg | Potassium: 532mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 4350IU | Vitamin C: 26.3mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2.4mg

Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.

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Originally published on March 31, 2020. Updated on September 24, 2023.