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This Italian wedding soup recipe is an irresistible classic with tender meatballs and a gorgeous broth! Pasta and fresh spinach round out this tasty soup.
Why you’ll love it
There aren’t many soups out there that match the cozy factor of Italian wedding soup. Homemade meatballs, plenty of love put into it, and an incredibly flavorful broth… yes please. This beloved soup is straightforward to make and filling without being heavy.
It’s called Italian wedding soup not because of anyone’s nuptials. In Italian “minestra maritata” literally means “married soup”; however, it refers to the marriage of flavors, namely the vegetables and meatballs. This traditional soup actually dates back to even before the tomato arrived in Italy. The more you know!
What you’ll need
For the meatballs
- Panade – the mixture of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs and milk keeps the meatballs moist and juicy
- Meat – we’re using a combo of Italian sausage and ground beef
- Parmesan – freshly grated parm adds irresistibly cheesy flavor
- Egg – to bind everything together
- Salt & pepper – very important to bring out the flavors
For the soup
- Olive oil – for sautéing
- Onion, celery, carrots – the base of a good soup. I like sweet (Vidalia) onion.
- Garlic – a generous amount to infuse aromatic goodness
- Chicken broth – added savory flavor
- Italian seasoning – my absolute favorite all-purpose blend of dried herbs. It comes in a single jar.
- Pasta – acini de pepe is the traditional tiny, round pasta for this soup
- Spinach – a pop of freshness
- The oil in the pot needs to be very hot so the meatballs don’t stick when you’re browning them. Heating the pot for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat prior to adding the meatballs in should do it.
- It’s best to handle meatballs with a delicate touch and not over-mix them so they stay tender for the best Italian wedding soup. You should be able to see individual meatball components when you look at them.
How to make Italian wedding soup
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Make the panade using the breadcrumbs and milk in a prep bowl. Add the remaining meatball ingredients, mix, then form 1″ meatballs. Transfer to a couple of plates. In a large pot, sear the meatballs until lightly browned, working in two batches, then transfer them to a plate.
Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in the soup pot. Stir in the garlic, and cook another minute. Add in the broth, Italian seasoning, and meatballs. Bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add in the pasta. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Stir in the spinach until wilted. Season with salt & pepper. Serve with extra parm if desired.
Tools for this recipe
Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!
Substitutions and variations
- If you can’t find acini de pepe pasta, orzo can make a good substitute.
- This soup is traditionally made with escarole instead of spinach, so if you can find it, feel free to use it. It takes longer than spinach to soften, so I would add it in at the same time as the pasta.
- Don’t have Italian-style breadcrumbs? Add 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning to the meatball mixture.
Leftovers and storage
- This soup will keep 3-4 days in the fridge. The pasta will soak up some of the broth the longer it sits, however, so you may want to add some more chicken broth when reheating leftovers if needed. Alternatively, you can cook the pasta separately and add it into portions when reheating if you plan on having lots of leftovers.
- This soup can be frozen for up to 3 months, but if you’re planning on freezing the entire batch, I would add the pasta and spinach in when reheating.
If you made this simple wedding soup recipe, please leave a star rating and review below! Questions? Talk to me. You can also find me on Instagram.
Italian Wedding Soup
- 1/2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more for serving
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 2 sticks celery chopped
- 3 medium carrots peeled & chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup uncooked acini de pepe pasta or orzo
- 1 (5 ounce) package fresh baby spinach see note
- Add the breadcrumbs and milk to a large prep bowl. Using a fork, mash together until smooth. Add in the remaining meatball ingredients. Mix together, using your hands, taking care not to overwork the mixture. Form 1" meatballs (about 1 tablespoon each, making 40-45 meatballs). Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet or a couple of large plates.
- Prep the soup ingredients. Add the olive oil to a soup pot or Dutch oven, and heat it over medium-high heat until the pot is HOT (important so the meatballs don't stick). Sear the meatballs in two batches for about 5 min/batch until they're nicely browned on the outside. They will finish cooking in the soup. Transfer meatballs to a plate once seared.
- To the soup pot, add the onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 7-8 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add in the broth, Italian seasoning, and meatballs. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Once the soup is boiling, add in the pasta. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, pot uncovered, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the spinach, let it wilt, and season the soup with salt & pepper if needed. Serve with extra freshly grated parmesan cheese on top of bowls if desired.
- Escarole is traditionally used in this recipe, so you can swap it for the spinach if you prefer/can find it. It needs longer to soften, so I would add it in at the same time as the pasta.
- See blog post for more tips, FAQ, and step-by-step photos!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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