Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (2024)

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Italian Wedding Soup is a classic Italian dish that doesn’t actually get served at weddings! But the idea of the soup is that it marries the ingredients perfectly and is also very easy to make. The Italian name is ‘minestra maritata’ or married soup! My favorite recipe for it uses chicken broth, beef meatballs, and orzo pasta to create a filling and delicious recipe.

Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (1)

This is perfect as a first course just like restaurants. Serve it in small cup-sized bowls with fresh baguette slices on the side and parmesan cheese. It can also be served as the main dish, just serve it in larger bowls with extra bread. You could even add some olive oil dipping sauce for the bread. Pair this soup with a sandwich for the perfect lunch or light dinner.

What’s the best pasta for Italian Wedding Soup?

Just about any small pasta will work, but for the traditional round or rice-shaped pasta you will want to use orzo, acini de pepe, or pearl couscous.

I prefer acini de pepe but it has become difficult to find in the store.

Pearl couscous makes beautiful round balls that seem to hold up better in leftovers, so that is what I mostly use now.

The orzo should have a nice rice size and shape when it has been cooked.

Be careful though when you buy orzo, some of the brands selling orzo these days are packaging something that looks more like broken spaghetti noodles. That isn’t what you want in this soup.


  • Chicken broth
  • Condensed chicken broth
  • Water
  • Lean ground beef
  • Large eggs
  • Garlic salt
  • Dried basil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Bread crumbs (plain or Italian)
  • Carrot
  • Spinach leaves
  • Orzo pasta or pearl couscous

You can swap the carrot for celery if you prefer or use a mixture of both. Some recipes use mushrooms alongside the veg.

Italian sausage or ground pork is another alternative to meatballs to give the soup flavor.

Can I Substitute Spinach?

Spinach, escarole, and kale all work in wedding soup. I have eaten this soup with all of them. Escarole and kale are more bitter than spinach.

I prefer baby spinach because it’s really ready to add right to the soup.

Escarole, kale, and regular spinach have some thicker stems that may need to be removed before adding to the soup.

If substituting escarole or kale in this soup, add those greens about 10 minutes before your pasta would be done. Both of these need more than a quick dunk in hot broth to cook through.


How to make Italian Wedding Soup

  1. Bring all of the liquid ingredients to a boil in a large pan. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, gently stirring every so often.
  2. While the broth is simmering, preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with a non-stick spray before preparing it.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and eggs. Stir to combine.
  4. Season the meat mix with garlic salt and basil. Then, using a spoon, gently mix everything together until evenly combined. Toss in the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Mix just enough to combine ingredients.
  5. You may bake the meatballs if you wish. Meatballs can be cooked in the broth as well.
  6. Place the meatballs onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until meatballs have browned. Add cooked meatballs to the saucepan with the broth.
  7. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling liquid while it’s still hot, then cook until al dente.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add the spinach, mixing until it has all wilted.
  9. Serve in individual bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Larger pieces of spinach should be torn into smaller pieces before cooking because really big pieces tend to get wrapped around the spoon when eating.

Storing Leftover Wedding Soup

Wedding soup can be frozen. When freezing it will do better if it is frozen without spinach. If possible, remove the portion you want to freeze and place it into a freezer container before adding spinach or escarole.

Like most other soups, wedding soup can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Allow frozen soup to come to room temperature before reheating because you don’t want to break pieces of meatball and pasta off a soup iceberg.

Do you need to cook the meatballs first?

They can be baked or can be cooked in the chicken broth. The difference is the amount of fat the soup will have and how clear the finished soup is.

Baking the homemade meatballs first will bake off a good portion of the fat. For a less greasy soup, this is the method I suggest.

I like the color baked meatballs have, they don’t look as lifeless as meatballs cooked in the broth.

Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (2)

Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (3)

When cooking the meatballs in the broth, choose super lean meat like ground sirloin for your meatballs. There will be some proteins that turn into “scum” in the soup.

For a clear soup broth, skim as much of this off the top of the soup. It won’t hurt anything if you leave it in the soup, it just isn’t very pretty.

Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (4)

Why not add Parmesan while cooking?

Parmesan can be added to the Italian wedding soup recipe after it has been placed into serving bowls. You can use the grated stuff from the can, shredded, or shaved. The only thing I wouldn’t do is put it into the soup as it is cooking.

The cheese will clump together and stick to the pan, like everywhere in the pan. The melted cheese will require some elbow grease to get off of the pan and stick to your sponge or dishcloth. Heads up, it will stick to the bowls too, but those seem easier to get clean.

Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (5)


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Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (6)

Italian Wedding Soup

Super simple soup recipe made with chicken broth and loaded with mini meatballs, pasta, and spinach.

5 from 1 vote

Print Pin Rate

Course: Main Dish, Soup

Cuisine: Italian

Prep Time: 45 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 1 hour hour 15 minutes minutes

Servings: 18 Servings

Calories: 181kcal

Author: Beth Mueller


  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans condensed chicken broth undiluted
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs plain or Italian
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1 bag baby spinach leaves 10 to 12 ounces
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta or pearl couscous
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese for topping finished soup


  • Put all broth ingredients into a large pan and bring to a boil.

  • Reduce heat to simmering and continue to simmer until vegetables are tender.

  • While broth is simmering, preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.

  • Prepare a baking sheet, with sides, by spraying with a non-stick spray.

  • In a large bowl, add ground beef and eggs. Mix well.

  • Sprinkle garlic salt and basil over meat mixture. Mix well.

  • Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the meat mixture, followed by the bread crumbs. Mix just until incorporated.

  • Form into small balls using about 1 teaspoon for meat. Baking is optional. Meatballs can be cooked directly in the broth.

  • Place balls onto baking sheet

  • Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until meatballs have browned.

  • Add cooked meatballs to the broth.

  • Bring soup to a boil.

  • Add the pasta to the broth and continue boiling until pasta is tender.

  • Turn off the heat and add the spinach and stir until spinach has wilted.

  • Ladle into bowls and top with shredded Parmesan cheese.


Homemade chicken broth can be substituted and will bring extra layers of flavor to this soup.


Serving: 1Cup | Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.7g | Protein: 19.9g | Fat: 5.6g | Saturated Fat: 2.1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 746mg | Fiber: 0.9g | Sugar: 1.6g

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Elizabeth (Beth) Mueller

Elizabeth (Beth) Mueller is a food journalist, CEO of Pear Tree Kitchen, and co-creator of Food Blogger Help. She also has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a registered nurse licensed in the State of Oklahoma. When she has free time between writing, blogging, and cooking, she can be found volunteering as an RN with the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps.


Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (2024)
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