Italian Wedding Soup (easy weeknight dinner idea)
If you’re looking for an easy and hearty meal that comes together in ONE pot, in just 30 minutes (aka helllllooooo busy weeknight!), look no further than this classic Italian wedding soup! You can make homemade meatballs or take a little help from the store and use frozen meatballs – either way tastes great!
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
Even this time of year, soup is a go-to meal for us. On a chilly night, there’s nothing better than wrapping both hands around a warm, steaming bowl of soup!
Why is it Called Italian Wedding Soup?
Ever wonder how it gets its name? I always thought maybe it was a traditional meal served at Italian weddings, but in actuality, it has nothing to do with a real wedding. The name actually comes from the way the flavors combine, like a happy marriage!
Use the right pasta
My local grocery store had the acini di pepe pasta right in the dried pasta aisle, or you can also find it online.
How to Make Italian Wedding Soup
Italian wedding soup really is such an easy soup to make. The part that takes the most time is making the meatballs. You can use any combination of ground meat you like.
My favorite combination is either pork and beef or all chicken. I like to brown the meatballs in the soup pot before cooking the soup; add tons of extra flavor!
- Prep meatballs and brown.
- Cook onions, carrots, and celery until soft. Add herbs and seasonings.
- Stir in broth and pasta and cook until pasta is tender.
- Add spinach and serve.
Ways to save even more time making Italian Wedding Soup
Even though this recipe is quick-cooking, sometimes we need a little extra time. Here are my top tips for prepping this soup ahead.
- Pre-make the meatballs. Assemble them and line them on a wax-paper lined airtight container and refrigerate a day ahead of time.
- Make a double batch of meatballs. I know that doesn’t seem like a time-saver, BUT, you can freeze the other half, and then the next time you’re ready to make this soup recipe, you’ve already got the meatballs handled!
- Chop the vegetables ahead of time. Keep them in zip-top baggies in the refrigerator a day ahead of time.
- Chop the spinach. Keep it in a zip-top baggie in the refrigerator with a dry paper towel to absorb any moisture.
- Use frozen meatballs! I love the flavor of homemade, but some days I just can’t with the extra work. Frozen meatballs work beautifully in this soup, just make sure you use the small variety.
FREEZE ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP FOR ANOTHER NIGHT
There’s nothing better than coming home and realizing dinner is practically done already! Freezing soup is usually pretty straightforward, but for the best results, I like to freeze the soup before adding the pasta.
Then when you’re reheating the soup, go ahead and add the pasta.
PRO TIPS FOR MAKING ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
- Use quality ingredients. Since this soup has relatively few ingredients (meatballs aside), you want them all to shine!
- Don’t worry if the meatballs aren’t cooked through after browning them. They’ll finish cooking when you add them back to the soup later.
- Wine is recommended, but if you really prefer not to use alcohol, you can omit it.
- Don’t forget the sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese before serving, it really takes this soup over the top!
SHOP THE RECIPE:
- Dutch Oven – Enameled cast iron is my favorite vessel to cook soup in! LeCreuset is my favorite brand, but they’re pricey, so this Lodge is a good alternative!
- Acini di pepe – definitely cheaper in the grocery store, but in case you can’t find it, this is a good alternative.
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Italian Wedding Soup
- 8 oz ground beef
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1/2 cup plain or Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 3 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp dried dill
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (chardonnay is my favorite)
- 9 - 10 cups reduced sodium chicken broth or bone broth
- 1 cup dried, uncooked acini di pepe pasta
- 5 oz chopped baby spinach
- shredded Parmesan cheese (for serving)
- Add all meatball ingredients except olive oil to a large mixing bowl. Gently mix until fully combined. Shape into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.
- Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add about half the meatballs and cook about 3 minutes per side, turning to brown all over. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
- Add remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil to the same dutch oven and reduce heat to medium low. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Season with salt, pepper, and dill.
- Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Add pasta and meatballs to the pot and cook 8-10 minutes, until pasta is tender and meatballs are cooked through. During the last minute of cooking, add spinach and let it wilt.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese.
SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS
- Assemble meatballs, then brown as directed in step 2. Add to slow cooker insert.
- Pour in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Pour wine mixture into slow cooker insert, then add all remaining ingredients (except spinach, pasta and Parmesan cheese).
- Cover and cook on LOW 6-8 hours.
- Add spinach and pasta, cover, increase heat to HIGH and continue cooking another 10 minutes, or until spinach has wilted and pasta is tender.
- Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS
- Assemble meatballs, then press the saute button.
- Brown meatballs as directed in step 2.
- Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Deglaze with white wine and stir to remove any brown bits. Press Cancel button.
- Stir in seasonings, add in broth, pasta and meatballs.
- Secure the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
- Do a quick release, releasing the pressure in short bursts to avoid food particles from spewing out with the steam.
Remove the lid and stir in spinach.
In 'Saute' mode, cook for another 2 minutes, or until heated through and spinach has wilted.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.