Skip to Content
March 2, 2024

Italian Wedding Soup

Tender, juicy meatballs, rich flavorful broth, al-dente pasta, and greens make for a meal the entire family will enjoy.


Italian wedding soup in a bowl with a spoon toped with parsley and Parmesan
Photography by Gayle McLeod

A Delicious and Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

Look no further for a bright and satisfying recipe for Italian wedding soup! A simple broth paired with parmesan, lemon, and wilted greens – plus a quick sear in the oven for the meatballs – creates the perfect balance of complexity. On a cold winter day, this is just what you need to warm yourself up, and it even comes with a bonus: nutrition! You’d never know by how delicious it is, but the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and hearty greens add an extra layer of nourishment. From market to pot, it takes about an hour, with half of that time being prep work. So, grab a friend or an older kid to assist. If you want to go the extra step, make Chicken Stock from scratch but if you’re short on time, look for high-quality chicken and beef stock at your local grocery store.

homemade italian wedding soup made with celery, onion, carrots, meatballs and escarole

Why Do They Call It Italian Wedding Soup?

Many, including us originally, thought that this soup was named after the tradition of the soup being served at weddings! It’s so savory and simple that it makes sense. But alas, the real meaning behind its beloved name stems from the Italian phrase minestra maritata, which translates to married soup, and refers to the bits and pieces of meat, noodle, and greens coming together to create a deep broth and flavorful soup. But what is Italian wedding soup? Traditional Italian wedding soup is made of a hearty meatball, a rich broth, greens such as escarole or kale, and parmesan cheese, which adds a layer of nuttiness and strings together all the components. While Italian wedding soup recipes vary based on seasonal availability, in our easy Italian wedding soup recipe, we use escarole. If you are unable to find it at your local market, you can use one head of kale, leaves roughly chopped, or 4 cups of fresh spinach, added in the last 5 minutes until wilted.

bread crumbs, ground pork, ground beef, parmesan, spices, onion, celery, carrots and chicken stock in bowls

What Are The Meatballs In Italian Wedding Soup Made of?

Each component in this recipe for Italian wedding soup is vital to the flavor profile. But the meatballs might be the most important as they add a slight char flavor from the broiler but stay moist due to the parmesan, heavy cream, and of course, the complex broth. Another great meatball soup recipe is our Chicken Meatball and Vegetable Soup.

In this Italian wedding soup recipe, our meatballs are made of

  • Heavy cream

  • Italian breadcrumbs - If you use unseasoned breadcrumbs, just add 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning to the meatballs.

  • Garlic cloves

  • Sea salt

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • Ground beef

  • Ground pork

  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving

  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

heavy cream, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl to use for making homemade meatballs
ground pork, ground beef, parsley, parmesan, heavy cream, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl for meatballs
ground pork, ground beef, parsley, parmesan, heavy cream, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl for meatballs
meatballs made with ground pork, ground beef, parsley, parmesan, heavy cream, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper

How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

Follow these easy step-by-step instructions for how to make the best Italian wedding soup recipe:

  1. Make the meatballs! In one bowl, combine the milk, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt and pepper. This will season the meatballs and keep them juicy! In a separate bowl, combine the meat – we use a combination of pork and beef for a traditional, flavorful take. Add in the parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and breadcrumb seasoning mixture. Combine just until everything is evenly distributed – do not over mix! Broil for 8-10 minutes until browned on both sides – here is where the flavor comes in!

  2. Make the soup! Add oil and cook the mirepoix (also known as a combination of onions, carrots, and celery) until translucent. Add both stocks, a little water, and bring to a boil. Toss in the pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Add the escarole (or kale!) and the meatballs, and continue to cook for about 6-8 minutes. Don’t forget to scrape off all the juices or fatty bits from the sheet pan into the soup for extra flavor.

  3. Finish it off! Divide the soup into bowls, making sure every bowl has equal meatballs to green to pasta ratio. Top with a squeeze of fresh lemon, parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh cracked pepper. Serve with a side of crusty Sourdough Bread.

chicken broth being poured into a pot with onion, carrots, celery, and salt
meatballs, escarole, and veggies being cooked in chicken and beef broth for italian wedding soup

What to Serve with Traditional Italian Wedding Soup

Whether you’re a cup or bowl person, we can agree that this warm, comforting soup is perfect for all occasions. Keep it simple and add a salad like White Bean Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette, Celery and Pear Hazelnut Salad, Shaved Snap Pea Salad with Goat Cheese and Dates, Cucumber Salad, or a Caprese Salad. This easy Italian wedding soup recipe also pairs fantastically with a sandwich like the classic Perfect Grilled Cheese or Green Goddess Grilled Cheese. We also love to split half an Heirloom BLT With Pesto with a friend. Not in the mood for a sandwich? Bread will do! Try Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits, or pair it with Herbed Flatbread with Whipped Feta. When we’re looking for extra carbs in the winter, we accompany it with a Baked Sweet Potato or Rosemary Roasted Potatoes.

italian wedding soup in a bowl with a spoon toped with parsley and a lemon wedge
homemade italian wedding soup made with celery, onion, carrots, meatballs and escarole

Tools You’ll Need for Easy Italian Wedding Soup

Soup, Stews, and More Warm Meals!

Whether you eat it as a starter or for a meal, we love crafting a big batch of soup on the weekend to enjoy throughout the week. For easy cooking, check out our Very Best 5 Ingredient Soup Recipes or some of our favorites:

So Good, You Might Want To Get Married!

How did your Italian wedding soup turn out? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. If you think this could make your partner marry you, try your hand at our Marry Me Chicken. Happy eating!

💌 Let's Stay Together

There are so many great ways to receive all of our latest recipes, meal tips, and inspiration.

Italian Wedding Soup

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  25 min
  • Cook Time:  30 min
  • Calories: 420


For the meatballs

  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup Italian breadcrumbs (see Note)
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup minced flat leaf parsley

For the soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 ribs celery, diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups beef stock or chicken stock
  • 1 cup small pasta, such as ditalini or tubettini
  • 1 large head of Escarole, roughly chopped or 4 cups baby spinach
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Turn the oven to broil with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. Make the meatballs. In a small bowl, mix together the heavy cream, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, gently combine the ground beef, ground pork, Parmesan, parsley and the breadcrumb mixture. Mix well, then with wet hands, form meatballs (about 1½ tablespoons each) and place on the prepared sheet pan. You should have about 35 meatballs. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned.

  3. Make the soup. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is glistening, add the onion, carrots, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken stock, beef stock, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.

  4. Once the soup is boiling, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and escarole and cook until the pasta is tender and the escarole is wilted, about 6-8 more minutes.

  5. Divide the soup between bowls and serve with a squeeze of lemon, Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Note: If you use unseasoned bread crumbs, just add 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning to the meatballs.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories420
  • Protein29 g
  • Carbohydrates20 g
  • Total Fat27 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol154 mg
  • sodium1773 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

Italian Wedding Soup

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • hallie

    love the site, use it all the time for meal planning. quick question....broil on high or low?

    Thanks Hallie! High should be fine!

  • Sophie

    Delicious, nutritious and easy! I love the touch of lemon. I used the Trader Joe’s frozen cocktail meatballs to save time and it worked perfectly. TMP soups never disappoint!

    Thanks so much, we are so happy you loved it Sophie!

  • Hannah

    This was great! Very comforting soup. The lemon squeeze at the end was a nice touch. I used baby spinach as my grocery store didn’t have escarole.

    Thanks Hannah, happy you loved it!