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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!

Are you a big fan of cozy soups? You’ll also enjoy my Lasagna Soup and Italian Wedding Soup.

Italian meatball soup in two bowls

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 options here to use homemade meatballs or store-bought ones.

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!
ingredients for meatball soup in prep bowls

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 with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

sauteing onion in a soup pot and making the broth for meatball soup

Start by making the meatballs. Either make your own (I use my recipe for Italian Meatballs) or you can 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.

adding pasta and fresh basil to a pot of meatball soup

Bring it to a boil, then add the pasta. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Give it a stir every so often. Season with salt & pepper as needed, and stir in the fresh basil. Top with fresh parmesan if desired.

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).
closeup of a ladle with meatball soup

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.
close-up of Italian meatball soup in a bowl

Questions about this Italian meatball soup? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to leave me a star rating and review if you tried it! You can also find me on Instagram.

Italian meatball soup in two bowls
4.96 from 47 votes

Italian Meatball Soup

This meatball soup recipe is a tasty and simple way to enjoy homemade or store-bought meatballs. It has a delicious tomato broth and pasta!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 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.


Calories: 509kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 82mg, Sodium: 1226mg, Potassium: 1161mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 1056IU, Vitamin C: 40mg, Calcium: 118mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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    This soup is excellent and so easy!!! I used frozen meatballs, marinara instead of canned tomatoes, upped Italian seasoning to 2 tbs, added a parmesan rind to the pot and basil pesto, AMAZING! Thx for sharing!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thank you so much!

  2. Andrea says:

    5 stars
    WOW!! This was a spectacular soup. I baked my meatballs in the oven, cut them in smaller pieces and added them after the pasta was done cooking. I added the entire bell pepper and mushrooms. I didn’t have fresh basil so I used some I had on hand in a spice jar. We will definitely be making this again.

    1. Natasha says:

      Thank you!

  3. Kate Rogers says:

    Instead of crushed tomatoes i used diced (didn’t have crushed in pantry) but then added 1/2 a jar of spaghetti sauce. Used turkey meatballs and chicken stock (again, shopped the pantry) it was DELICIOUS!!

    1. Natasha says:

      That’s great!! 😀

  4. Heather Newcomb says:

    4 stars
    Great recipe! I cook the pasta separately then add to individual bowls. I find this way it doesn’t soak up the broth.

    1. Natasha says:


  5. jj says:

    when do you add in the premade meatballs….I will be using the frozen ones so do I cook them first and then add them?

    please guide accordingly thanks

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi JJ! Are they already cooked or raw? I believe you can get both varieties. I mention in the recipe notes what I do with frozen pre-cooked meatballs – treat them the same way, but just ensure they’re properly heated through (165F in the middle). If they’re raw and frozen, it’s probably best to cook them first before adding them to the soup, but you could still cook them in the soup if you wanted to… I would just give them a head start before adding the pasta in. And of course make sure they’re 165F in the middle before consuming. Hope you enjoy the soup! 🙂

      1. jj says:

        I have to buy them but I believe they are frozen and need to be cooked through…either way do I just add them into the soup for about 20 minutes? I must have missed where it shows when to put the meatball so sorry. I double checked and still can’t find when to add them…..if the meatballs are just frozen or even raw do you suggest putting in the oven or just letting them cook within the soup. So sorry for all the questions but it is the first time I am going to be making this one and it is for someone.

        1. Natasha says:

          Hi! So, you add the meatballs in at step 4. I recommend reading through the whole blog post, looking at the step-by-step photos to help familiarize yourself with the recipe, and then the recipe card is right above the comments section with the detailed ingredients and instructions. You may want to print the recipe off too – I find that helps me with new recipes especially. Like I said in my reply above, you can do either. I can’t give you an exact answer because meatballs vary in size and there will be a difference in timing depending whether they’re already cooked or uncooked, how hot your stove runs, etc. That’s why using a meat thermometer and testing if they’re 165F in the middle is the best way to know whether the meatballs are cooked properly or not. I recommend buying one if you don’t have one already for your own peace of mind as it’s inexpensive and useful in so many recipes. With all that said, it sounds like you’re really worried about this, so you may want to just cook them before you add them to the soup according to the directions on the package, and then follow the timing suggested in the recipe card since they will be fully cooked.

          1. jj says:

            thank you so much!!!

            I will keep you posted.

  6. Laurie Christensen says:

    5 stars
    This soup is awesome! I made my own
    Meatballs. I enjoyed this one cold winter

    1. Natasha says:

      Fantastic!! Thank you for your review, Laurie! 😀

      1. Dana says:

        5 stars
        Very quick and easy husband is a vegan we used impossible meatballs and veggie broth instead of beef broth and I added some spinach came out really well thanks

        1. Natasha says:

          That’s awesome!! Thank you, Dana!

  7. Tim says:

    How would a little chopped celery be in this recipe?

    1. Natasha says:

      I think it would be great!

  8. Jayme Spitzer says:

    How to I make sure the meatballs are thoroughly cooked if I make my own?

    1. Natasha says:

      Instant read thermometer 165F in the middle.

  9. Hunter says:

    5 stars
    Soooo good! Whole family loved it.

    1. Natasha says:

      Wonderful!! 😀 Thanks for letting me know, Hunter!

  10. Yvonne says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is simply….Chef’s Kiss!!!! My 2yr old kept eating non-stop,I had to stop her. The food was THAT good. Thank you!

    1. Natasha says:

      Haha I love that!!