italian wedding soup {with mini-meatballs, spinach + pasta}

by Amy on 8 November 2011

i love soup. love love love it. as my husband can attest, there are days when i literally eat soup for breakfast, lunch *and* dinner. my love for soup goes way back — in elementary school, i wasn’t much of a fan of sandwiches, so my mom would heat up soup in the morning, pack it into a thermos, + send me off to school with a delicious lunch. i remember the other kids, with their peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwiches, saying, ‘that’s so cool that your mom packed you chicken noodle soup for lunch!” well, my adoration of soup has only grown since then, if you can believe it.

i have eaten many a bowl of italian wedding soup — which combines two of my favorite things: meatballs and soup — but had never made it myself until last week. there were tons of different recipe variations online, so i decided to go with Ina Garten’s version, as I’ve never made a recipe of hers that didn’t turn out wonderfully. and again, she didn’t disappoint! this soup is delicious, + the flavors only get deeper + more complex a day or two later. it made a ton of soup, none of which went to waste – i ate every last bit of it over 3 or 4 days. yup, it was that good! so if you’re looking for a fabulous soup for those chilly fall + winter evenings, look no further — this soup is amazing!

italian wedding soup

makes 8 servings, adapted from barefoot contessa


3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper

for the soup:
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups chicken stock (i used homemade)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars (i used ditalini)
12 ounces baby spinach, washed + trimmed


preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

for the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, pecorino, parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, + 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl + combine gently with a fork. drop 1/2” – 1” mini-meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (you should have about 75 mini-meatballs.) bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through + lightly browned. set aside.

in the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. add the onion, carrots, + celery + saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the chicken stock + wine + bring to a boil. add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook until the pasta is tender (refer to cooking time on the pasta box). add the meatballs to the soup + simmer for 5 minutes. season to taste with salt + pepper. stir in the fresh spinach + cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted.

ladle into soup bowls + sprinkle each serving with extra grated parmesan.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mommyof2Girlz/StephD November 8, 2011 at 8:23 am

I love wedding soup by have never made it. I’m thinking this winter would be a perfect time to start, thanks for the yummy recipe!

2 amy November 8, 2011 at 8:32 am

you’re so welcome! you’ll have to report back + let me know how it turns out. =)

3 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl November 8, 2011 at 8:35 am

This looks fabulous! I’ve got a meatball soup post scheduled for next week, but yours looks healthier than mine, using ground chicken instead of pork/beef. I’m going to have to give this recipe a try–then maybe I won’t feel so guilty about eating so much! :-)

4 amy November 8, 2011 at 8:39 am

i can’t wait to see yours, ashley! my favorite italian wedding soup in nashville has meatballs that (i think?) are a beef/pork blend. i think next time i make this soup i might try making the meatballs that way. i did love the way the chicken meatballs turned out, though, because they were super tender + very light.

5 Jess November 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

Yummy! This is one of my favorite soups to make!

PS Your hubby will love the brander! I think you can get them online these days :)

6 amy November 8, 2011 at 9:45 am

isn’t it a wonderful soup? i think i saw the branders in the williams-sonoma catalogue recently? such a fun idea!

7 Kelly November 8, 2011 at 9:46 am

Yum, looks delicious! I think I may have to make this sometime!

8 amy November 8, 2011 at 9:48 am

let me know how it turns out for you if you try it – it would be perfect to try on one of these upcoming chilly fall nights. =)

9 Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee November 8, 2011 at 9:49 am

looks delicious!! I’m a soup addict as well:) I’m definitely going to try this recipe. Great food styling.

10 amy November 8, 2011 at 9:54 am

that’s so nice of you to say, steph – thank you! i’ve been trying to work on my food styling/photography + i think it’s starting to get better. who knew that photographing food could be so difficult?!

11 Renee November 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I love soup and so does my husband. As soon as cooler weather comes I get into soup making mode. I will add this to my soup recipe collection and make it for one cold day. How can you go wrong when meatballs are involved?

12 amy November 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm

yes! i made it on a chillier day + it totally hit the spot. + you’re right – you can’t go wrong if meatballs are involved!

13 Vivek @ Vivek's Epicurean Adventures November 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I love soup too! Will have to make this one day! Love the idea of mixing sausage with ground meat – great!

14 amy November 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm

i was intrigued by the mix of ground meat + sausage, too + they turned out great. really tender + flavorful, but still light since they’re chicken instead of beef. i might play around with a beef/pork or beef/veal mixture next time + see how that changes the flavor.

15 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. November 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Omg this is calling my name!! My kids would love it too

16 amy November 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

it’s definitely both kid-friendly + adult-friendly, which is always an added bonus! =)

17 natalie (the sweets life) November 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

i don’t know that i’ve ever had italian wedding soup–need to fix that! mini meatballs are CUTE :)

18 amy November 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm

i tried it for the first time a few years ago + was hooked – i’m a sucker for meatballs in any form – adding them to soup was just brilliant in my opinion! the original recipe called for full-size meatballs, but i knew that making ’em mini would make them significantly cuter. =)

19 EA-The Spicy RD November 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Now you’ve given me quite a delimma about what to make for dinner tonight! I was going to make albondigas soup {for the first time eve}, but this looks so delicious too! I think I’ll stick to my original plan, but I’m bookmarking this for next soup making day :-)

20 amy November 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

albondigas is one of my all-time favorite soups (+ i’ve never made it myself, either). can’t wait to hear how it turns out, + i hope to see the recipe on your blog so i can make it, too! =)

21 Biana | Simple and Tasty Recipes November 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I love Italian wedding soup! I make regular size meatballs, and the soup is so great with pasta, chicken meatballs, spinach and all the other goodies.

22 amy November 8, 2011 at 5:04 pm

isn’t it, though? i’m so glad that i finally tried to make it myself at home – it was much easier than i expected + just as tasty, if not tastier, than the versions i’ve bought from stores + cafes. yum!

23 Reeni November 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I am a soup lover too and Italian Wedding is one of my favorites! This looks wonderful! I love Ina’s recipes.

24 amy November 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

aren’t her recipes always great? i literally don’t think i’ve ever made one that I didn’t like!

25 Baking Serendipity November 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I’ve never made my own Italian wedding soup either, but it’s finally soup season here in Phoenix and this sounds like the perfect one to kick it off with :) PS: I have a holiday giveaway going on right now!

26 amy November 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

glad it’s finally soup season there! you’ll have to let me know how it turns out for you. off to check out your giveaway — thanks for the heads-up!

27 Jessica @ Cajunlicious November 9, 2011 at 11:14 am

Amy I love that you posted this, I have been craving a big bowl of this soup!

28 amy November 9, 2011 at 11:34 am

You should make some soon then – it’s truly delicious + a wonderful comfort food!

29 Jessica @ Cajunlicious November 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I think I am going to have to :)

30 Rachel @ The Avid Appetite November 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm

this looks glorious! I love Ina and all of her recipes. Your version looks absolutely perfect :) Can’t wait to make it this winter!

31 amy November 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

aww, thanks Rachel! Aren’t ina’s recipes fab? I thought this one was just as great as the rest of hers, too!

32 Ally Garner November 9, 2011 at 8:25 pm

italian wedding soup is my absolute favorite soup. Hands down. I’d never had homemade though until my husband’s Grandmother made her family recipe. I thought I had died & gone to heaven. Still haven’t managed to get that recipe from her though. I’d love to try my hand at this one. You’re so right, all of Ina’s recipes are wonderful. Hope you’re having a safe flight and enjoy your trip. Can’t wait to hear all about it!!

33 amy November 10, 2011 at 9:17 am

ooh, if you ever get that recipe from your husband’s grandmother, i’d definitely bribe you with sweets/pay you to get my hands on it. =) recipes passed down through generations are just so amazing (+ insanely delicious). i love that you have so many awesome family recipes!

34 BreAna {Sugar & Spice & All Things Iced} November 10, 2011 at 10:48 am

I LOVE soup too! What a perfect comfort food! I can’t wait to try this recipe–it looks AMAZING!

35 amy November 10, 2011 at 11:15 am

you’ll have to let me know how it turns out if you try it — i thought it was just delicious!

36 Christi's Chirps November 10, 2011 at 11:17 am

What a wonderful recipe! I love brothy soups and basically live off of soup in general during the cold winter months! This recipe looks wonderful! And, your photo is so pretty too. I love the coordinating orange. 😉

The story about your school lunches is just precious.

Thanks for sharing!


37 amy November 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm

i could live off brothy soups all fall + winter, too – they’re just so comforting + cozy. thanks for your kind words per usual, christi! =)

38 Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook November 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

My Mom and Grandmother love Italian Wedding Soup. My Mom is baking us her crumb cake so we can photograph and feature it on the blog. Maybe I’ll cook this for her in return :)

39 amy November 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

aren’t you just one thoughtful son. =) i’m sure your mom would so appreciate it + will have earned a little treat!

40 jane gaither November 15, 2011 at 11:50 am

That soup would be perfect for tonight with the weather around here as it is. I actually have a stock pot on the stove with chicken stock so I’m ahead of the game today. I have Barefoot Contessa’s cookbook and I’ve never made that recipe but your post has inspired me!

41 amy November 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm

that’s awesome to hear! + good for you making your own stock – i always think it makes everything taste better. do let me know how it turns out if you try it!

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