Cozy, filling Italian wedding soup just might be the perfect option for a chilly autumn weekend

Italian Wedding Soup truly is one of the most quintessential and elite autumn or winter dinners. It truly hits every marker that a good (non-creamy) soup should hit 

Interestingly enough, I’ve never once had it while out to eat, via takeout or delivery, nor while actually attending a wedding. I’ve only ever eaten my own iteration of it at home. 

Comprised of meatballs, greens, a super flavorful broth and a generous shower of finely grated parm, Italian Wedding Soup always hits the spot, to use one of my dad’s favorite terms. Dubbed Minestra Maritata in Italian, its name is not invoked by where it’s served, actually, but actually by the “marriage” of ingredients in the dish. It’s also a great option for either a frenzied weeknight or a slow, languorous Sunday. 

The soup is also simultaneously filling and comforting, yet very, very light. It’s also a perfect choice for a sugar-free, carb-free, keto or Paleo situation . . . and you can obviously use whatever protein you’d like for the meatballs, as well as cook them any way you like and mix-and-match the greens, too. It’s one of the most infinitely customizable soups

It’s also a one-pot situation, if you’re into those which ultimately becomes kind of a perfect meal all in one bowl.

A quick breakdown of the components:

  • I like a minimalist variation for this soup: just broth, meatballs, greens, chives, finishing oil and a shower of parm, but if you need carrots, onions, celery, a grain or carb of some sort, don’t hesitate to throw them in. 
  • The soup is traditionally made with escarole, which I love, but if you can’t find it or you have some spinach or kale on hand, feel free to swap those in. I also like it a lot with any type of chard.
  • I opt for ground chicken here, but if you’d rather turkey, beef, pork, veal, lamb, sausage or a plant-based ground protein, go wild! Or use a mix of a few different proteins for a more complex flavor profile.
  • I like using tinier meatballs here, just because it’s never especially enjoyable to bite into enormous meatballs and get lots of soup dribble on your chin. Same goes for slicing or cutting the greens as thinly as possible, so they wilt up well and you don’t get a huge mouthfeel or greens or an especially large leaf that is drenched in broth. For the most pristine, clean, couch-eating-in-a-cozy-sweater comfort food experience, small meatballs and super-thinly sliced greens are paramount. If you’re not looking to do either of those, then just be sure to have a whole stack of napkins at the ready! 
  • I like to essentially make a Parm broth fortified with mirepoix, but you can totally opt for Better than Bouillon, bouillon cubes, store-bought stock or broth or whatever you have on hand. 

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  • I’m a texture guy who likes a crispy meatball and the notion of dropping raw meatballs into a sauce or broth and just letting them cook has never once been appetizing to me, so — just like I do with large meatballs served with sauce and pasta or in a uber-saucy and cheesy meatball sub — I always sear them (quite aggressively) before saucing them. Conversely, you can also roast them, which some tend to prefer — just shape them, drizzle them with oil and throw them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so. You can also cook them on an oven rack placed above a rimmed sheet tray, which will allow any extra fat from the protein drip off the meatballs as they cook. If you’re opting for chicken or turkey here, though, I’d skip that step because the poultry is already quite lean.

Italian Wedding Soup 


08 servings

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

45 minutes 


3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

4 celery ribs, roughly chopped

2 large onions, peeled and quartered

2 to 3 bay leaves


Better than Bouillon, optional 

Parmigiano Reggiano rinds, if you have any on hand 

Kosher salt

Olive oil

1 1/2 pound ground chicken (or protein of your choosing)

2 shallots, peeled and minced

4 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane

1 teaspoon dried chives

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 to 3 tablespoons ricotta

1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for grating 

Garlic powder, optional

Onion powder, optional

Handful of freshly chopped parsley

1 to 2 large bunches of escarole, chard, kale or spinach, cut into thin ribbons 

Orzo, Israeli couscous, pastina or fregula, cooked, optional

1 lemon, juiced

Fresh chives, parsley or dill, finely chopped, for garnish 


  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add carrots, celery, onions, bay leaves, water, salt and, if using, Better than Bouillon and Parm. rinds.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 20 minutes. Skim, drain, discard or compost your cooked vegetables and clean the pot.
  3. Add reserved broth back to pot. Taste for seasoning.
  4. In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, cook shallots and garlic in olive oil until translucent and slightly browned. Transfer to a dish, wipe out pan and let cool.
  5. In a large bowl, mix chicken, shallot-garlic mixture, chives, bread crumbs, ricotta, Parm, garlic and onion powders (if using), salt and parsley. Mix well and form into very small meatballs. 
  6. In same pan in which you cooked the shallots and garlic, add fresh olive oil and fill with meatballs, but do not overcrowd. Cook in batches until fragrant and well crisped, tossing or stirring occasionally so they evenly cook and brown on all sides. Remove to a paper-towel lined sheet tray and season salt. Repeat until all meatballs have been cooked. 
  7. Add greens to your broth. Cook until wilted, about 8 minutes.
  8. In a large bowl, add 4 to 5 meatballs. Using a ladle, add broth and greens. Top with lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a shower of freshly grated Parm. 

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