Italian Wedding Soup

January 22, 2018




No, we didn’t fall off the face of the Earth after our trip to Charleston, South Carolina but some of us came back in really pathetic, sickly shape. Miss D. came down with the nasties halfway through our weekend away, and by the time our plane landed back in Denver, she was a wreck. A feverish, achy, hacking wreck. Plus, our travel plans were such that sleep had been the sacrificial lamb, so throw exhaustion into the mix. It wasn’t pretty, especially because D. never gets sick. She’s got her father’s immune system.

In fact, D. is so rarely sick that she hadn’t missed a day of  school for “disease purposes” since the third grade, and she hadn’t missed two consecutive days of school since the second grade, when she had a tonsillectomy. As in, surgery. The girl does not miss school. But last week, she missed 2 1/2 days, and the day and a half she did attend, she came home and went immediately to bed. She slept so much that I kept sneaking up to her room and cracking the door open, fearing she was dead.

She survived but passed her germs my way. My immune system is not Superman, by any stretch of the imagination. Of course I got it. Of course I did. However, I got a much diluted version and took to the Interwebs and social media begging for immunity-boosting tips (thanks, you wise folks!) which really did seem to help.

I was actually so okay that I found the strength to make several pots of soup between bouts of self-pity. I rely heavily on soup when I have the yucks, because all of those grandmothers across the ages, across the continents…well, they just can’t be wrong. Grandmothers know their shit and if they tell me to spoon soup down my gullet when I feel poorly, I’m listening.

I stuck to smooth soup when my throat was truly on fire, but once I felt better, I got down to the business of making this one. I was ready for some texture and some heft to my soup, and this Italian Wedding Soup is incredibly satisfying.

Italian Wedding Soup is delicious and also really fun to eat, because it’s embellished with these adorable, flavor-packed mini-meatballs. I think mini-meatballs make soup seem like a party in a bowl. Who doesn’t love cute, teeny meatballs? The addition of pasta and hearty greens definitely sends this soup into the “meal” category. It’s warming and filling and was just the thing I wanted to eat after a few days of pureed soups and frozen lemonade.

Wedding Soup is a little more time-consuming than some soup recipes, but the hardest thing, really, is making the mini-meatballs. Once you pop those in the oven, the rest of the soup can be thrown together as they cook, so it’s not that burdensome. Because the meatballs have so much flavor, the rest of the recipe is crazy simple. AND, if you’re a lucky, meal-planning Ninja like me, you can make the meatballs ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, so then you can whip this soup up when you truly need it without a lot of fuss.

Okay, maybe I’m not a meal-planning Ninja. Frankly, I just got lucky and had a small batch-o-balls hanging in the freezer when I needed my soup fix.


Make this soup. It’s cute and it’ll stick to your ribs in the dead of winter, and if you are blessed with kids who don’t hate soup (unlike my dear, adorable freakshows), this is quite kid-friendly.


Italian Wedding Soup

serves 8

slightly adapted from Ina Garten


For the meatballs:

1 pound ground chicken sausage, hot or mild or a blend of both (or you can purchase chicken sausage in the casing and just remove the casing)*

1/2-2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs

2 minced garlic cloves

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons milk

1 beaten egg

salt and pepper


For the soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup minced onion

1 cup diced peeled carrot

3/4 cup diced celery

10 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup small pasta such as ditalini

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or dill

12 ounces baby spinach or baby kale or Swiss chard (take the stems out of the chard and chop the leaves–just use the leaves)


Preheat the oven to 350.

For the meatballs, place the chicken sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, cheese, milk, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork or your fingers. If meatballs seem excessively sticky and wet, add a little bit more bread crumbs to the mixture (although it should be fairly wet so they don’t dry out). Form meatballs using a teaspoon; they should be quite small–you’ll get about 35 meatballs. Put meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked and lightly browned. Set aside.


Meanwhile, make the soup! Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 minutes or until pasta is tender. Add the meatballs into the soup and warm through. Add the spinach and the parsley or dill and stir until just wilted.

Serve in warmed bowls with a glug of olive oil and additional Parmesan cheese if desired.


*my favorite bulk chicken sausage is from Sprouts Market. I combine half sweet Italian and half hot Italian.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt the Butcher January 22, 2018 at 5:10 pm

I LOVE soup! I’ll be making this soon!


elizabeth January 23, 2018 at 6:28 am

Two things: first, my mother-in-law makes this every Christmas (only it’s called holiday soup) and she would consider your meatballs to be way too big. She makes them (as my FIL says) “neurotically small.” They are basically the size of a marble. Secondly, we had this soup at our wedding, and our one friend came up to our table during the soup course and pointed at the bowl saying “here, we just call this soup.”

Glad to hear that you and D are finally on the mend!


Dana Talusani January 27, 2018 at 11:21 am


I love the term “neurotically small” for meatballs!! I also think it’s cool that you had wedding soup at your wedding. Cute!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: