Italian Wedding Soup

Right now, the house is silent. Little ones are dreaming. Shirts are crisply ironed and hanging, ready for early risers. Snacks are packed. Everything has been labeled. Tomorrow is the first day of school. I have bid farewell to the laid-back summer days, and have…

Italian Wedding Soup

Right now, the house is silent. Little ones are dreaming. Shirts are crisply ironed and hanging, ready for early risers. Snacks are packed. Everything has been labeled.

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

I have bid farewell to the laid-back summer days, and have begun to focus on the year ahead for my little ones. With my oldest entering 3rd grade and my baby starting Kindergarten (sob!), it is time for me to start thinking of notes to sign and lunches to pack. Sandwiches are to be expected, of course, but my daughter can only eat so many sandwiches.

What she really loves is a warm and comforting lunch. So when I can, I pack her favorites: dumplings, pasta, and soup. She loves soup. And her favorite, even as a toddler, is Italian Wedding Soup.

Mama, can we have ‘Meatball Soup?’ She has been asking for quite a while. She was actually referring to the one you can find in a can. You see, many years ago, when I was not as particular, I would buy canned soup, and while I still admit that the canned Italian Meatball Soup we used to buy is tasty, I can no longer bring myself to buy it. One look at the label and I am mortified at the preservatives and sodium. I can do better.

So I made a large batch the other day. I hastily rolled my meatballs.

Please don’t mind my messy board. This is what it looks like when I’m in a rush. A little extra parsley and garlic stuck to the board won’t hurt anyone.

I expected my daughter, who is turning out to be my harshest critic, to refuse the soup. After all, the meatballs were not as petite and uniformly formed. The pasta were not the teeny acini di pepe that she expects – in fact, I found myself using a combination of orzo and vegetable pastas I found in my cupboard as I was too pressed for time to return to the store for the perfect pasta. But to my relief, she wholeheartedly approved.

She wants it for lunch tomorrow.

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Italian Wedding SoupPrint Friendly and PDF

Serves 8.



  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 cup diced celery (3 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 10 cups chicken stock (ideally homemade)
  • 1 cup small pasta such as acini di pepe (or substitute tubetini, stars, orzo)
  • 8-12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, stir the onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt and bread crumbs together. Add the Parmesan cheese, ground meat and pepper and combine, using your hands or a fork. Using about a heaping teaspoon portion, roll meatballs; this will yield about 40 meatballs. Set aside on a baking sheet. This can be done in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until the onion is transparent, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and meatballs, return to a boil, and cook until the pasta is cooked al dente. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and simmer for a couple of minutes more, until the spinach is just wilted but still a vibrant green.

Ladle into bowls and serve with a little extra grated Parmesan cheese.

Meatballs slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Italian Wedding Soup, via Food Network. Soup adapted from Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding Soup, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics (2008).




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  3. Meaghan

    I just found your blog and love it so much! I made this for dinner tonight and it is delicious. A genius pairing of Ina and Giada, I must say. I used a 16oz of meatloaf mix (beef, pork, veal) in lieu of the beef/pork combo, and it was fantastic. Just wanted to stop in and say thank you!

  4. C

    I just made the meatballs from your recipe – they came out beautifully!

  5. Kirene

    Made this tonight for dinner. DELISH! Loved the meatballs. It went together really easily, will be a fall/winter staple for us from here on out. Thanks!

  6. Stephanie

    I can’t remember the last time I saw such a beautiful Italian wedding soup. Just lovely. I can taste it from here.

  7. Monet

    How could your sweet daughter not want it for lunch tomorrow? It looks amazing! I hope you have a wonderful evening and weekend my friend. Thank you for sharing another delicious recipe with me. Many blessings as the days unfold!

  8. kankana

    This is my kinda soup .. meat, pasta and clear soup. I want that right now :) I have to make this sometime.

  9. Kita

    How adorable. I am so glad she approved of your soup. I am wondering how she gets it to school warm? Do the thermoses work that come in lunchboxes? If so, I am going out tomorrow and purchasing one!

    This soup looks beautiful as well.

    • Liren

      Kita, those thermoses really do work. This is what I do: In the morning, I boil some water and fill the thermos. I close the lid and allow the thermos to heat up. Meanwhile, reheat the soup in a separate container. Then, dump out the water and pour the hot soup into the preheated thermos. It’s perfect by lunchtime. Hope that helps!

  10. Sam @ Critics in My Kitchen

    Italian wedding soup is my favorite, and I can never find the perfect recipe, but I dare say this might be it!!! I’m so excited to try this, it looks perfect! I’m going out today to buy the ingredients!

    • Liren

      Thanks, Sam, did you try it? I would love to know if you liked it!

      • Sam @ Critics in My Kitchen

        Oh my goodness. I made it this morning to have for dinner tonight, and it looked and smelled so good that I couldn’t wait, so I had some for breakfast! It was perfect!!! Thank you for ending my search!

  11. Rebecca @ A Dash of Thyme

    This looks amazing! I love Italian Wedding Soup and I agree that the canned/boxed varities are so full of sodium! I’m going to whip up a big batch of this tomorrow for the weekend!!

    • Liren

      Hi Rebecca – I do hope you enjoyed the soup! I know I will be making more of this as the weather begins to cool.

  12. Carolyn

    How did the summer go by so fast??? I love the fall, but the summer was so fleeting. Won’t be long before I need soup like this to keep me warm.

  13. Claire

    beautiful pictures! i love homemade soup and this soup looks perfect. i can imagine eating it on a cold day with warm crusty bread. Mmmmm so good!

  14. Ann

    This is absolutely perfect! I LOVE Italian Meatball Soup (I call it wedding soup). What a lovely school day send-off!

  15. Tracey@Tangled Noodle

    All I remember of my school lunches were plastic mini-bottles of kool-aid and egg-salad sandwiches! Your daughter will be the envy of the lunchroom. What a pretty bowl of soup!

  16. Donna-Dishy Goodness

    Happy to see you & I have messy cutting boards–it’s inevitable when cooking & I applaud your real-life depiction! Wish I could teleport your soup, already-made, into my kitchen. :)

  17. EA-The Spicy RD

    Beautiful soup! My kids (youngest starting 3rd grade too, and oldest going in to 5th-yikes!) start back to school next Monday, and I think they would love this!

  18. Lilly

    Lucky girl, she gets to have this soup for lunch tomorrow. I’m glad she likes it. It looks great!

  19. Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane

    Your daughter is a girl after my own heart. Soup was a favorite of mine as a child and I used to dig through cookbooks instructing my mom on which ones to make. Yes, I must have been a complete joy. This soup looks fabulous (“messy board” and all)!

    Good luck with the new school year. Kindergarten must be incredibly bittersweet.

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