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Healthy Italian Wedding Soup

June 22, 2024

Nearly carb-less (hello Whole30 & keto people!), and totally gluten-free, our super-healthy Italian wedding soup is the kind of simple, soothing, easy comfort food that feeds both body and soul.


Paleo, whole30 Italian Wedding Soup with meatballs and kale in a bowl

A Healthy, Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe to Kick Off the New Year

Brothy, full of dark, leafy greens and studded with moist, tender pork and chicken meatballs, our healthy Italian wedding soup recipe is everything your body needs right now (and nothing it doesn’t!). It’s warm, soothing and jam-packed with nutrients—lean protein in spades, vitamins A, K, B6 and C, calcium,and potassium in the Italian kale, and, because they’re made with carrots, even the meatballs themselves pack a little extra nutritional punch. Whether you’re fighting off a cold, or just trying to show your body some love after a few weeks of indulgence, this light, comforting Italian wedding soup recipe is here to help you out. For more meatball recipe ideas, check out our favorite Meatball Recipes!

a large pot of Italian wedding soup that is made with chicken and pork meatballs and kale, whole30 and paleo with a spoon

What Is Italian Wedding Soup?

And while we’re at it, why do they call it “wedding soup”? The exact history of what we in the U.S. call Italian wedding soup is a bit murky, though it does seem to have originated in Italy. There, it’s known as “minestra maritata” which doesn’t exactly translate as “wedding soup”. Rather minestra maritata means “wedded soup” or “wedded broths”, referring not to a soup served at weddings, but instead likely a reference to the soup having traditionally been made with a medley of different broths. Versions of minestra maritata are found throughout southern Italy, and though some are classically served around Easter, this brothy soup, studded with meatballs and bitter greens—usually escarole—is mostly enjoyed as a winter food, particularly associated with Christmas or St. Stephen’s Day (Dec. 26th) in many places. So, TL;DR no, Italian wedding soup is not a soup served at weddings, and yes, it’s probably a recipe that originated in Italy!

Katie Parla has a nice little dive into the background of Italian wedding soup, if you’d really like to go deep. But, if you’re just hungry for some soup, read on for how to make a big pot of Italian wedding soup!

A pot of Italian Wedding Soup with red pepper flakes, parmesan, kale and chicken and pork meatballs

Healthy Italian Wedding Soup Ingredients

As we mentioned, there are versions of wedding soup from all throughout southern Italy, and they vary village to village, town to town, even family to family. When Italian immigrants brought the tradition of this soup over to the states with them, it morphed again based on what ingredients were available. While in Italy, the soup might have been made with myriad bitter greens, here it’s become traditional to use escarole. We’re opting for kale, because it’s so widely available and we love how sturdy it is—even simmered in broth, it keeps its toothsome quality, not to mention it’s excellent nutritional profile. With an eye to health, we’re not adding any pasta to our recipe—and in fact, that’s (arguably) how it would usually be made in Italy. Well, depending on who you ask. Without further ado, here’s everything you’ll need to make our easy Italian wedding soup recipe:

  • Ground pork
  • Ground chicken
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Eggs
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fennel seeds
  • Dried oregano
  • Chicken stock
  • Italian kale (you could sub any dark, sturdy leafy green you’ve got on hand, but we love Italian kale, aka cavolo nero, most of all.)
  • Cauliflower rice (totally optional!)
  • Parmesan cheese (also optional, and not paleo or Whole30, but sooooo good)
Healthy Italian Wedding Soup in a bowl with kale and pork and chicken meatballs, and chicken stock

How Do You Make Italian Wedding Soup From Scratch?

Not only is our wedding soup recipe super healthy, it’s gosh-darn easy, too. All said and done, you’ll need just about 30 minutes start-to-finish, so it’s a great weeknight recipe. The meatballs don’t need to be browned before being added to the broth—they actually poach in the broth itself, taking on the gentle savoriness of the broth, and in turn seasoning it with their pork-y, onion-y goodness. You might even call it a marriage(!) made in soup heaven. Here’s how the delicious nuptials come to pass:

  1. Gently mix the meatball ingredients together. We recommend using your hands for this, because to make sure your meatballs are super tender, it’s important not to overmix.
  2. Bring the broth to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, rolls the meatballs! Remember our wet hands trick? Keep a little bowl of water next to you while you roll the meatballs, and keep your palms a bit damp as you roll. This will help keep the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands.
  4. Add the meatballs carefully to the simmering broth.
  5. After about 10 minutes, swing by the stove and add the kale.
  6. Finish the soup with some cauliflower rice, if you’re so inclined, and serve! We like to serve it topped with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese (if you aren't doing paleo or Whole30) and red pepper flakes.
Homemade Italian Wedding Soup in a bowl with parmesan cheese, chicken meatballs with a spoon
Homemade Italian wedding soup in a bowl with kale and meatballs

Tools You’ll Need

More Easy, Healthy Soup Recipes to Try

Homemade Italian wedding soup in a bowl with kale and meatballs

Dinnertime + This Soup: A Match Made in Heaven

We think this is the best Italian wedding soup recipe out there—healthy or otherwise! We hope you feel that way too. Try the recipe, and let us know how you like it, 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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Healthy Italian Wedding Soup

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 291


  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, grated, juices squeezed out with a kitchen towel
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Italian kale, ribs removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups riced cauliflower, optional
  • grated parmesan cheese, optional
  • red pepper flakes, optional


  1. In a large bowl mix together the pork, chicken, carrots, onion, eggs, garlic, parsley, fennel seeds, oregano, salt and pepper, until fully combined, set aside. You can use your hands or a stand mixer for this step.
  2. In a large pot bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Use your hands (wet them to prevent sticking) to form 2-inch sized meatballs and drop them into the boiling broth one at a time. Due to the lack of breadcrumbs, they meatballs will be slightly wet/messy and that's just fine.
  3. Once all of the meatballs are added to the broth reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kale and cauliflower rice (if using) to the soup and simmer for 10 minutes longer. The meatballs are done when the internal temperature reads 165°F on an instant read thermometer.
  4. Serve the soup warm, topped with red pepper flakes and a little grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories291
  • Protein24 g
  • Carbohydrates10 g
  • Total Fat17 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol134 mg
  • sodium289 mg
  • Total Sugars5 g

Healthy Italian Wedding Soup

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Tricia

    Can you freeze the soup?

    Hi Tricia, freezing this should work fine. Hope you enjoy!

  • Claire

    thoughts on using ground turkey?

    Ground turkey would work great!

  • Michelle

    This was easy to make and super delicious! I sliced up some extra carrots and added them with the kale. Even my kale-averse husband enjoyed it.

    YAY! That is great to hear, thanks Michelle!

  • Alissa

    I really love this recipe; I've made it twice now. With that said I have a couple notes that may be useful to other chefs:

    1. If you are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe's nearby, I find that they have the best ingredients for this recipe: pre-washed & chopped Tuscan kale (though you may still need to de-rib some pieces), frozen pre-cooked rice/riced cauliflower, grated carrots, ground pork, and perhaps most importantly, their blend of shaved Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan for topping. I DON'T think they sell fennel seed, but I leave it out anyway ;-)

    2. I accidentally made my meatballs without eggs this time and it didn't change them much, so if you're looking to avoid eggs for any reason, you don't really need them. The meatballs will stay intact!

    3. I prefer to use brown rice instead of riced cauliflower, and so I just add my cooked rice at the very end (after the kale has been simmering for a few minutes).

    4. When reheating a bowl, I find it's best to cut the meatballs into fours to speed up the process - the broth will reheat much faster.

    Thanks Alissa! We are so happy you love this recipe! Thanks for sharing helpful tips for others too!

  • Jolene

    This recipe was amazing! I did add additional Italian seasoning and garlic and herb seasoning to step it up a little bit but otherwise it was light and delicious!

    Thanks Jolene! We are so happy you loved it!