This meatball soup recipe is a tasty and simple way to enjoy homemade or store-bought meatballs. It has a delicious tomato broth and plenty of pasta!
Why you'll love it
Meatballs are arguably one of the best comfort foods out there, and adding them to soup is like a warm hug in a bowl! If you've already got them in your freezer, you can have this soup on your table in about 40 minutes. You've got plenty of options here to use homemade meatballs or store-bought ones in this versatile soup recipe.
This is one of those deeply rich, satisfying soups that tastes like it's been cooking forever, but it's actually really easy to throw together with a few pantry ingredients that are readily available year-round. If it's a chilly day and you're craving pasta and meatballs without all the effort, this is one soup that's sure to be a hit.
What you'll need
- Meatballs - homemade, store-bought, and frozen all work
- Olive oil, onion, garlic - our sautéed aromatics. Sweet (Vidalia) onions are my go-to, and you can use more or less garlic
- Tomatoes - I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
- Beef broth - to make the flavor of the broth deep and rich
- Red bell pepper - for an additional fresh crunch
- Italian seasoning - it's a blend of herbs like rosemary and sage that comes in a single jar and is so flavorful
- Red pepper flakes - they're optional but give a mellow warmth and don't make this soup spicy
- Pasta - I used fusilli. Rotini works too.
- Fresh basil - I don't recommend skipping it. It plays so well with the tomatoes in the broth!
Tips for success
- We recommend crushed tomatoes for the best texture, but a can of diced tomatoes (with juices) may be used to replace them if necessary.
- Some varieties of crushed tomatoes can be thicker than others. The ones I used are fairly watery, but add more broth if needed if the soup ends up a bit thick.
- You can use a different kind of pasta if you prefer, but be mindful that pastas have different volumes and you may end up with more or less if you use something other than fusilli/rotini.
How to make meatball soup
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Start by making the meatballs. Either make your own (I use my recipe for Italian meatballs) or you can definitely use store bought meatballs.
- Sauté the onion in a soup pot, then stir in the garlic, followed by the crushed tomatoes, beef broth, red bell pepper, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and meatballs.
- Bring it to a boil, then add the pasta. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until it's al dente. Season with salt & pepper as needed, and stir in the fresh basil!
Substitutions and variations
- This soup is pretty flexible. Feel free to throw in additional herbs or vegetables depending on what you've got in your kitchen!
- Add in a handful or two of fresh spinach towards the end of cooking time as an easy way to get more greens.
- You can use frozen pre-cooked meatballs no problem. Just make sure they're warmed through entirely (should be 165F in the middle).
What to serve with meatball soup
- Try some Garlic Bread or fresh sourdough/other crusty bread.
- A side salad would complement it well. Toss some mixed greens with my Creamy Balsamic Dressing or fix a Caesar salad with this easy Homemade Caesar Dressing!
- Want to make it extra special? Top it with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan.
Leftovers and storage
- This meatball soup will last 3-4 days in the fridge in a covered container. You may need to add a splash more beef broth or water to leftovers when you're reheating them in a saucepan over a low heat since pasta absorbs liquid.
- You can freeze leftovers for up to 3 months, but keep in mind that soups with pasta don't always freeze that well since the pasta becomes puffy, but it'll still taste good.
- Alternatively, you could remove some of the soup you plan to freeze before you put in the pasta in while cooking. Simply make a fresh batch of pasta to add in when you're ready to eat the frozen leftovers.
Questions about this Italian meatball soup? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to leave me a review if you tried it!
Italian Meatball Soup
- 1 pound meatballs see note
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (28 fluid ounce) can crushed tomatoes I used fire roasted
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1/2 red bell pepper chopped small
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1.5 cups fusilli pasta
- 1/4 cup fresh basil torn/chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese (for serving) optional, to taste
- Prep time for this soup doesn't include making meatballs from scratch. If needed, make the meatballs (use my meatball recipe and you'll have about half of the batch left over for other meals) or use store-bought or your own recipe.
- Add the olive oil and onions to a soup pot over medium-high heat and sauté for 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, beef broth, red bell pepper, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and meatballs. Increase the heat to high and bring it to a boil.
- Add the pasta once it's boiling.
- Reduce the heat and simmer it (covered, with the lid slightly open) for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Stir it a few times to ensure the pasta isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot. Note: Some brands of crushed tomatoes are thicker than others. Add more beef broth if the soup has become too thick (this soup is meant to be quite brothy).
- Stir in the basil and season with salt & pepper as needed. Serve with parmesan grated over top if desired.
- Meatballs vary a lot in size and ingredients, so add as many as you think people will eat. I added 12 from my homemade recipe since they're fairly large. Frozen (already cooked) meatballs will work fine. Just make sure they're fully heated through before serving (165F in the middle).
- Served 4-6 depending on how many meatballs are added/how hungry people are, and what else it's served with.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. The meatballs in this calculation are the generic ones in the nutrition calculator.