Italian Wedding Soup. One of my most favorite and complete meals that nourishes your body and your soul. This flavorful soup combines acini di pepe pasta, fresh spinach and escarole, carrots, and delightful little meatballs to form a robust meal that is perfect for any night of the week.
Growing up, Italian Wedding Soup was a meal we'd have frequently. And it never, ever disappointed.
In fact, to this day, every time I make it I find myself wondering, "why don't I make this more often"?
This is definitely a family-friendly meal. My wife loves that it has a nice balance of protein from the meatballs and a healthy dose of green leafy veggies.
The kids love the fun shapes that make up this dish and how the little acini di pepe mimics the slightly larger, but still bite-sized, mini meatballs.
I love it because I know I'm nourishing my family with a recipe that has been passed down through matrilineal history and each time I make it, I pay tribute to each of those special women.
Although this dish is simple, making the little meatballs can take more time, so what I usually do is make a ton of meatballs and then freeze them.
Knowing I have them on hand really helps when we're short on time during the week but still want a nutritious home-cooked meal.
In addition to the turkey meatballs, you will also need spinach, escarole, carrots, celery, and onion. And of course, the acini di pepe, which is a small pearl-shaped pasta.
How to make it
- Begin by dicing 1 medium onion, 2 carrots, and 2 celery ribs. About ¾ to 1 cup of each. In a large soup pot saute the veggies in a ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-low heat for a few minutes.
- Chop the escarole into ribbons, thoroughly clean ( a salad spinner works well for this), and add to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes.
- To the pot, add 10 cups of low sodium chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling add in a half-pound of acini di pepe pasta and cook until almost done.
- Add in the meatballs. We recommend using this Italian turkey meatball recipe of ours. They have a ton of flavor, are juicy, and go perfectly with this soup. But, use any type of small meatball you like. Finally, add in the spinach and taste test the soup. Add a ½ teaspoon or more of black pepper and salt to taste. If more liquid is needed just add a cup or two more of stock or water.
Top the soup with a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.
Substitutions and additions
- veggies - If you can't find escarole, use more spinach or add in some other veggies like zucchini, kale, or swiss chard. The choice is yours!
- pasta - If acini di pepe proves difficult to find use another type of small pasta. Ditalini, orzo, and pastina are all great substitutes.
- turkey meatballs - A tender and juicy pork and beef meatball recipe would be perfect as well. Follow the recipe but again, just remember to make them small.
- egg - Stir an egg into the soup right before serving. Drizzle it slowly and stir with a large fork to create strands of egg.
- Small meatballs are excellent in Italian wedding soup. The diameter of a quarter is a great size to shoot for.
- Add as much liquid as required and to your personal preference of how thin the soup should be. 10 cups of low sodium chicken stock are the starting point, but if more is needed, go for it.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply microwave or reheat on the stovetop.
Try these other delicious soup and stew recipes!
- Chicken noodle soup with tiny meatballs - Similar recipe but with chicken thigh meat, farfalline pasta, and beef and pork meatballs.
- Italian lentil soup - Classic recipe with lentils, veggies, a parmesan rind, and a bunch of spinach to brighten it up.
- Ribollita stew - Tuscan bread soup with greens and veggies.
- Ciambotta - The stew to make with summer garden veggies.
- Italian beef stew - Red wine braised chunks of chuck roast with veggies and mushrooms.
- Spicy sausage potato and kale soup - Comforting soup with kale, beans, potatoes, and sausage.
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For the soup
- 8 ounces acini di pepe pasta
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 2 large celery ribs diced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- kosher salt to taste
- 10 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 bunch escarole washed and chopped
- 1 bunch spinach
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano grated
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the turkey meatballs (If using storebought or premade meatballs move on to the soup instructions.)
- Preheat oven to 375f and set rack to middle of oven.
- Combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, grated onion, basil, parsley, parmesan, milk, olive oil, salt, pepper, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
- Gently mix all the ingredients and form small meatballs (about the size of a quarter). Wet hands with oil or water between rolling to avoid meat sticking to hands.
- Bake the meatballs on a parchment paper lined or wire rack baking tray until cooked to an internal temperature of 165f. The small meatballs should take approximately 15-20 minutes to cook. Makes roughly 40-60 meatballs
For the soup
- In a large pot saute carrots, onion, and celery in a ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Next, add in the cleaned and chopped escarole and cook for 3-5 minutes more.
- Add 10 cups of low sodium chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling add in the acini di pepe pasta and cook until almost finished.
- Add in the meatballs and heat through until warm. Finally, add in the spinach leaves and taste test the soup. Add a ½ teaspoon or more of pepper and kosher salt to taste. Serve with grated cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
- The full Italian turkey meatballs recipe can be found here. The original recipe was for full sized meatballs. The only modification made in this recipe was to make them smaller and reduce the cooking time. Alternatively use store-bought meatballs.
- Small meatballs are excellent in this soup. The diameter of a quarter is a great size to shoot for.
- If required add more liquid and to personal preference. Extra chicken stock or water can be used.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply microwave or reheat on stove-top.