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5-Ingredient Chicken Meatball Soup with Kale & Parmesan

January 27, 2022

Soup is always pretty simple, but this chicken meatball soup recipe is as easy as easy gets. 5-ingredients, 10 minutes and dinner is served.


a bowl of chicken meatball soup with kale and parmesan in a bowl with a spoon

This 5-Ingredient Meatball Soup Is Faster, Healthier and Yeah, Even Easier Than Takeout.

You know that we love a good short cut. Keyword “good”—we love food, and so recipe shortcuts are fine as long as the resulting meal is still delectable. We’d never sacrifice tasty food in favor of speed. But when you can have both a yummy meal AND extra down time thanks to a speedy, simple recipe? Well, who’d say no to that? This simple, healthy chicken meatball soup recipe has a bit of an Italian wedding soup vibe, with a little pesto stirred in for a powerful bunch of herby, savory richness. Using pesto in this way is not an idea we can claim to have originated, though. Credit for this particular stroke of genius goes to someone who will likely remain unnamed forever, but we like to imagine some French or Italian women, who was trying to liven up a simple soup and happened to have a little pesto left in the mortar and pestle and voila—soupe au pistou (as soup with pesto stirred into it is known in Provence). The soup was magically more delicious, the pesto was used up and dinner was done, and she felt like kind of a genius. You, too, can feel like a bit of a genius when you whip up this easy meatball soup.

chicken meatballs, chicken stock, ditalini, kale, pesto and salt in bowls on the counter

The 5 Ingredients You’ll Need To Make This Easy, Healthy Meatball Soup

With so few ingredients, you might be worried that this soup will be boring. But rather, its simplicity is soothing, and provides a healthy, warming palette for garnishes of your choice. It’s a great one for families with little kids, too—tiny kids might prefer it as-is, while mom and dad can add a generous handful of chili flakes or stir in a generous spoonful of chiles (we love this chili paste in particular). Parmesan is wonderful on this soup, too. Dress it up at will! Here are the five ingredients that you’ll need to make the easiest soup ever:

  • Chicken stock

  • Frozen chicken meatballs

  • Small pasta, like ditalini, Orechiette or macaroni

  • Basil pesto! Homemade Basil Pesto is always great if you’ve got it, but a good-quality store-bought pesto can be terrific, too.

  • Kale. We used good old cavolo nero (aka Tuscan kale) but it’s OK to use any kale you have—red Russian or even curly kale. You could even swap in chard, if that’s what you have.

chicken meatballs, ditalini in chicken broth in a stock pot
chicken meatballs, pasta and kale in chicken broth in a stock pot

How To Make This Easy Meatball Soup Recipe

This meatball soup recipe is so gosh darn quick and easy, you should probably grab a magazine article you’ve been meaning to read so you’ve got something to do with yourself when dinner is done so much faster than you expected. Here’s how easy it is to make:

  1. Bring the broth to a boil.

  2. Add the meatballs and pasta and cook as long as the packages tell you to! This time will vary a bit depending on what frozen meatballs you’ve used and what size pasta you’ve chosen. We love this recipe with ditalini or anellini but you can use most any small pasta shape you love.

  3. Kale goes in right at the end, and simmer for just a couple more minutes, until it’s tender and wilted.

  4. Kill the heat and stir in the pesto! Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve!

5-ingredient chicken meatball soup with kale and parmesan in a stock pot

Tools You’ll Need:

More 5-Ingredient Soup Recipes to Try

5-ingredient chicken meatball soup with kale and parmesan in a stock pot
5-ingredient chicken meatball soup with kale and parmesan in a bowl with a spoon

Can I Freeze It?

Yes! This recipe freezes wonderfully. If you’re wanting to stock your own freezer or a friend’s freezer, but finding yourself short on time, this meatball soup recipe is your new BFF. Make a big batch, let it cool, and then freeze for up to three months.

5-ingredient chicken meatball soup with kale and parmesan in a bowl with a spoon next to small bowls of parmesan and pepper

Proof That Making a Great Meal Doesn’t Have To Be Hard.

There’s no rule that the level of satisfaction you get from a meal must be correlated with extreme effort. In fact, easy meals might be even easier to enjoy, too, because you’re not completely spent when you finally sit down to eat! Let us know how you like this simple soup recipe, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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5-Ingredient Chicken Meatball Soup with Kale & Parmesan

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 612


Serving Suggestions

  • Red pepper flakes
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Parmesan


  1. In a large pot set over high heat, bring the 6-8 cups of broth plus 2 cups water to a boil.
  2. Add in the chicken meatballs and (uncooked) pasta, bring the liquid back up to a boil, and cook until the pasta is al dente (not completely softened) and the meatballs are warmed through. This will depend on the size of your pasta and cooking time on the meatball package, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add in the kale and cook until wilted, about 2 more minutes.
  4. Stir the pesto into the soup, season to taste with salt and serve, topped with any additional toppings you have on hand: black pepper, more pesto, red chili flakes, Parmesan.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories612
  • Protein29 g
  • Carbohydrates74 g
  • Total Fat22 g
  • Dietary Fiber5 g
  • Cholesterol8 mg
  • sodium1634 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

5-Ingredient Chicken Meatball Soup with Kale & Parmesan

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Anna

    Is the 2 cups of water necessary? Or would it be too salty (from the pesto) if all the liquid was stock? I can’t wait to make this!

    All stock is great!

  • Jillian

    Do you have a favorite brand of frozen chicken meatballs that you can recommend?

    I find that each store only carries a few different brands. Any Italian style meatball will work. Stat away from meatballs flavored with teriyaki. Even beef or pork meatballs would be lovely in this soup.

  • Sarah

    This soup was super easy and tasted so good.

    YAY! Thanks Sarah!

  • Sophie

    This is one of my favorite easy soups. The flavors work so well together. I love the first pesto-y bite with lots of parm on top. A warming delightful dish!

    Thanks Sophie, so happy you loved this dish!

  • Jenn

    This was super delicious!

    Thank you!