Easy Italian Wedding Soup + Chicken Meatballs
You’re going to LOVE this Italian Wedding Soup recipe! It’s soothing, flavorful, and packed with little homemade chicken meatballs!
Table of Contents
About This Scrumptious Soup
You’re probably no stranger to Italian Wedding Soup. But there’s definitely something to be said about a homemade batch with from-scratch meatballs. Yes, even chicken meatballs!
Full disclosure in case you’re new here: I’m never afraid to swap red meat for poultry. And based on a lot of the comments I’ve received on my turkey burger recipe, a good number of you are trying to eat less red meat, too.
But whether you’re trying to lessen your red meat consumption or not, this soup is a keeper. It’s packed with flavor and it’s nourishing to the body and soul.
You’ll Love This Recipe Because…
It’s so easy! Even rolling your own little meatballs is quick and painless. Plus, you’ll feel so accomplished afterward. And everyone will be admiring your efforts, you pro!
There’s room for flexibility. Want more heat? Add more chili flakes. Like it super noodle-y? Go heavy on the pasta. The possibilities are pretty endless without completely changing the soup.
It’s great leftover. The marriage of flavors only gets more intense as the soup sits.
You can have it as a starter OR a meal! Smaller bowls of this soup make for a great starter—especially for a nice Italian meal. But serve it in a big bowl with a nice fresh hunk of bread and you’ve got yourself a MEAL.
Tips Worth Mentioning
Lightly sear your meatballs in the pot first. Searing the meat in the pot will create “brown bits” which are great for flavor when deglazing a pan for sauce or when making soup.
Some recipes call for just adding the meatballs to the simmering broth and letting them cook that way—because they then absorb all of that flavor. You will still get an infusion of flavor when searing the meatballs, because there are still uncooked spot that will let some broth in.
Short on time? Frozen meatballs will do. Don’t bother searing them, however. You’re just going to pop them into the simmering soup straight from the freezer and wait until they’re cooked through.
Add a parmesan rind! I always keep parmesan rinds in my freezer. By popping a rind into your soup as it cooks (it’s also fantastic for sauces), the saltiness and umami add richness and depth to the broth.
Cook your pasta separately. If you cook your pasta directly in the broth it will absorb the broth and, if you accidentally use too much, you’re going to be left with a pasta dish—no soup for you. Once the pasta is cooked you can add as much as you feel is right to the pot. Another option is simply putting the pasta into bowls and ladling the soup on top.
What’s in Italian Wedding Soup?
The ingredient list is super approachable. Here’s a quick glance at the ingredient list; you’ll find the exact measurements in the recipe card below.
- Olive oil
- Ground chicken
- Sea salt + cracked pepper
- Onion powder
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh parsley
- Worcestershire sauce
- Parmesan cheese
- Italian breadcrumbs
Italian Wedding Soup
- Olive oil
- Red onion
- Chili flakes (optional)
- Baby spinach
- Sea salt + cracked pepper
- Chicken broth
- Parmesan rind
- Acini de pepe pasta
How to Make It
Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix everything up until the meat mixture is well blended.
To form the meatballs, I like to use a melon baller to scoop up small mixture and form them. Whatever you use, remember that we’re going for about half the size of a regular meatball. The mixture will feel a bit tacky, but that’s normal! Rub a little olive oil into your palms to form them. This trick works wonders.
Place the meatballs onto a baking sheet covered with parchment.
Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, bring the heat to medium-low and transfer a few meatballs into the pot (don’t overcrowd them). Cook them for 30 seconds to a minute, or until lightly browned, then flip them over with tongs and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer them back to the baking sheet and continue until all of the meatballs are cooked; set aside.
Add a bit more oil to the pot, then add the onions, carrots, and celery. Hit it with just a smidgen of salt and cook until the veggies have softened. Stir in the garlic and chili peppers and sautée for 30 seconds.
Finally, add those meatballs back to the pot and pour in the chicken broth. Add the parmesan rind and spinach, and bring everything to a rolling boil. Once boiling, decrease it to a low simmer.
While the soup simmers, go ahead and cook your acini de pepe as per the directions on the package. Once cooked, add it to the soup or spoon it into bowls and ladle the soup over the bowls.
I like to garnish my soup with some freshly shaved parmesan and a spritz of lemon juice. (The lemon juice makes the flavors shine even more!)
Swaps + Substitutions
Meatballs. You can indeed use premade frozen meatballs if you’re short on time! The difference in cooking is that you’ll add them to the simmering broth, skipping the whole pan-searing thing.
Spinach. Italians traditionally use escarole, so you can opt for that. Another option is kale. Just be sure to slice off the thick ribs of the kale leaves or you’ll end up with tough bits!
Acini de pepe. These little pasta balls are such a joy! But other tiny pasta shapes work too. Some examples: stelline (sometimes labelled as pastina; they’re tiny star-shaped noodles!), ditalini, farfalline, etc.
Fresh herbs. You can absolutely use a tablespoon of dried Italian herbs in the meatball mix if you don’t have fresh parsley and thyme.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Dutch oven or stock pot
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups + spoons
- Melon Baller (I find this perfect for scooping up the meat mixture)
- Meat thermometer
- Baking sheet (to place your freshly rolled meatballs!)
- Parchment paper (to pop on top of the baking sheet so the meatballs don’t stick)
- Stirring spoon or spatula
Have You Made This Recipe?
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More Soup Season Recipes for You:
- Curry Pumpkin Cauliflower Soup
- Cozy Chicken Florentine Soup
- Coconut Curry Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- Homemade Ramen Bowls
Easy Italian Wedding Soup With Chicken Meatballs
FOR THE CHICKEN MEATBALLS:
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
FOR THE SOUP:
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes (can be adjusted for more heat)
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 3-4 handfuls of baby spinach, ribonned or roughly chopped
- 8 cups chicken broth
- Hunk of Parmesan rind
- Sea salt + cracked pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup acini de pepe pasta
- Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
- Lemon wedges, for serving (optional but recommended!)
- Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix everything up until the meat mixture is well blended.
- Because you want the meatballs to be smaller than regular meatballs, scoop the mixture up with a small spoon or a melon baller (that's what I like to use as it's the perfect size) and gently roll the mixture in your hands to form a meatball. Set the meatball onto a baking sheet covered with parchment and repeat until you've used up all the meat. You should end up with 34 meatballs, give or take. Tip: Rub some olive oil into your palms—it makes handling the mixture much easier as the mixture is a little tacky (which is normal).
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat and when the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium-low and transfer a few meatballs into the pot (don't overcrowd them). Cook them for 30 seconds to a minute or until they're lightly browned, then flip them over with tongs and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer them to the baking sheet and continue until all of the meatballs are cooked; set aside.
- Add a smidge more olive oil to the pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and season with just a bit of salt. Sauté until the veggies have softened, then stir in the garlic and chili peppers; sautée for 30 seconds.
- Add the meatballs back to the pot. Poor the chicken broth into the pot, then stir in the spinach. Finally, pop the parmesan rind into the pot. Bring everything to a rolling boil, then decrease to a low simmer for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked, registering an internal temperature of 160º F.
- While the soup simmers, cook your acini de pepe as per the directions on the package. When done, add the pasta to the soup. Another option is you can spoon it into bowls and ladle the soup over top.
- Garnish each bowl with some freshly shaved parmesan and a spritz of lemon juice! (Optional, but highly recommended!)