Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

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This Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe is nutritious and comforting. It’s full of my Nonna’s Italian meatballs, vegetables, and acini de pepe pasta. Grab a warm bowl of soup and get cozy. This tasty soup is a timeless family favorite!

Serve with a warm loaf of No Knead Italian Focaccia Bread or Italian No Knead Ciabatta Bread.

Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe with a bowl of freshly grated parmigiano in the background. Blue hand knit napkin next to bowl.
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Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

In Italy, this soup is traditionally served with broth, meatballs, leafy greens, and sometimes an egg in the broth. Then it is topped with parmigiano cheese. I add a few more veggies in my recipe to brighten the soup. I top it with freshly grated parmigiano cheese and serve it with homemade bread. It is a humble soup that is loved by all.

This savory soup has delicious Italian flavors, and I use my Nonna’s polpette recipe, which is 100% authentic Italian. It is genuinely heartwarming and feeds a crowd. Serve it any time of the year for a delicious and hearty soup.

Easy Italian soup recipes, you will love Simple Artichoke Soup Italian Recipe, Tomato Soup Recipe (Easy), BEST Zuppa Toscana Soup Recipe.

Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe bowl of soup and pot of soup with fresh made bread.

Simple Ingredients

Fresh vegetables, a good broth, and homemade meatballs go a long way to give this delicious soup a rich flavor.

ingredient shot for recipe

Soup 

  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Yellow Onion, chopped
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Garlic cloves
  • Chicken stock, vegetable stock, or bone broth of choice
  • Acini di pepe pasta (or any small pasta variety- suggestions)
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Freshly grated parmigiano for topping (parmesan cheese)
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Meatballs

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- making the homemade meatballs.

See the recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe Step-by-Step Instructions

We start this soup with a simple Italian soffritto, the best base for most sauces and soups in Italian cooking. This is a hearty meal the whole family will love.

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- cooking the carrots, onions, and celery in olive oil in a pot.

Make the Italian meatballs. Cover and set aside. You can make them and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 24 hours in advance. 
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onions, and celery and saute until veggies are soft, about 8 minutes; add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- adding the broth to the soup.

Pour in chicken broth, season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and bring the mixture to a boil.

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- adding meatballs to the soup recipe.

Add the meatballs, and reduce heat to a light boil (about medium or medium-low).

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- adding the spinach to the pot.

Cover and cook, occasionally stirring, until the meatballs have cooked through and are tender, about 10 minutes.

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- cooking the spinach in the broth.

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- cooking the pasta separate.

Bring salted water to a boil in a separate small pot and cook the pasta according to package directions (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and add the cooked pasta to serving bowls, then add the hot soup on top of the cooked pasta.

Alternatively, you can cook the pasta in the soup and add at the same time as the meatballs. 

How to make Classic Italian wedding soup recipe process- cooking the spinach in the broth.

Meatballs for Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

We are using my Nonna Laura’s Famous Polpette recipe for this Italian wedding soup. You can see the recipe for the meat variations in the meatballs (you can use ground turkey or ground chicken or the traditional mixture of ground beef, ground pork, and, if you can find it, ground veal).

These super tender meatballs are made with egg, parmigiano cheese, parsley, salt and pepper, and homemade breadcrumbs (stale bread) soaked in milk. Oh my! They are so delicious. I wrote a story about making them with my Nonna.

You can also leave out the meatballs in this recipe and make it vegetarian.

Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe in a bowl with a spoon holding a meatball ready to eat.

Frying or Boiling Meatballs for Soup

There are three ways to add homemade meatballs to Italian wedding soup. The first is frying them in a pan with olive oil to get a nice crust and then adding them to the soup to finish cooking.

Alternatively, roast the meatballs on a greased cookie sheet to get a crispy exterior crust. People fry the meatballs to seal the moisture before adding them to a soup recipe- I find it makes them tough in texture.

The other way, and the way I like best, is to cook them right in the soup: this yields nice, tender meatballs.

Make Meatballs Ahead of Time

I always make a double batch of the meatballs and freeze them for a busy weeknight.

To freeze meatballs: Place them on a baking sheet in one layer so they aren’t touching, and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container with a tight lid. Freeze for up to 2 months. Add frozen meatballs to the broth when ready to use and simmer until warm. You can also add them to homemade tomato sauce.

Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe in a bowl with spoon and bread in the background.

Best Pasta for Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

The pasta that works best for Italian wedding soup is a small pasta variety. Here are options for you to consider for adding to the soup.

I recommend cooking the pasta separately and adding a spoonful to the bottom of the bowl before adding the soup.

You can also leave out the pasta in this recipe, which is still delicious.

Soup Variations and Substitutions

There are so many variations of Italian wedding soup. Traditionally, this soup calls for bitter greens such as escarole or broccoli rabe, popular in the Napes region of Italy.

Greens. I like to use baby spinach for simplicity and a sweeter taste. Feel free to use kale, cabbage, or other hearty greens.

Pasta. Replace the pasta with beans. For a low-carb version of this soup, use a can of cannellini beans or white beans instead of the pasta. Drain and rinse the beans, and add to the broth at the same time you add the greens. Other options include grains such as rice, farro, or barley; cook them separately and add them to the soup.

Spices. I like to keep the spices simple to none and let the broth, homemade meatballs, and vegetables do the flavoring. If you wish- add a few dashes of dried herbs, such as an Italian blend, thyme, red pepper flakes, or oregano.

Cheese. Instead of the parmigiano cheese, you can add a bit of freshly grated pecorino romano cheese.

Meat. Traditionally made with meatballs, this Italian Wedding Soup can also be made with Sweet Italian sausage or Spicy Italian Sausage. Simply fry it with the soffitto before adding the liquid to the soup.

Egg. Some versions of Italian wedding soup have two scrambled eggs added to the hot broth. If you want this addition- scramble two eggs in a bowl and add them to the hot broth when adding the leafy greens. Stir the egg vigorously in the hot liquid. They egg will cook in the hot broth.

Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe bowl of soup and pot of soup with fresh made bread.

Origins of Italian Wedding Soup

The name Italian Wedding Soup isn’t what we call it in Italian cuisine. I am from Italy, and I’d never heard of “Italian Wedding Soup” until I came to the U.S.A.!

Italian Wedding Soup is an old-world Neapolitan soup from la cucina povera (poor kitchen) called ‘ministry marital,’ which translates to “married soup,” not wedding soup. In Italy, we do not make this soup for weddings. The ‘wedding’ refers to the ‘marriage’ of inexpensive meat and leafy greens that make up the main ingredients in this Italian soup.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftovers: Place any leftovers in a tight-lid container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cook the pasta before it is ready to eat and add that fresh.

Reheat leftovers: Reheat the desired amount in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warm. Add additional water or broth if necessary.

Top Tips for the Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

  • Soak the bread for soft meatballs. Bread soaked in milk will puff up when cooked, creating little air pockets that make these meatballs extra soft. Our family prefers breadcrumbs that make meatballs tough or dry (panko breadcrumbs are an okay variation).
  • Use fresh herbs – This highlights the meatballs. Using fresh herbs adds incredible flavor to the meatballs and broth.
  • Fresh Parmiggiano Reggiano Cheese – Use the real deal here. It makes such a difference. Read TOP 5 Reasons Why You Should Grate Your Own Cheese.
  • Oil your hands, or use a little water to help roll the meatballs. This prevents the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands.
bowl of Italian wedding soup close up shot

FAQs

Can you Freeze Italian Wedding Soup?

Italian wedding soup freezes great!
How to Freeze: Freeze soup without pasta. Place the cooled soup in an airtight container or a plastic bag (make sure to leave a few inches for the soup to expand when it freezes). Label it with the date. It can stay frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, make the small pasta of your choice and add it to the warm soup.
To Reheat: To reheat Italian wedding soup, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to eat it, you will warm the soup back on the stove or in the microwave just before serving. When ready to serve, make the small pasta of your choice and add it to the warm soup.

Is Italian Wedding Soup Italian?

Italian Wedding Soup is an old-world Neapolitan soup from ‘la cucina povera’, or poor kitchens, called ‘minestra maritata’. This name translates to “married soup,” not wedding soup. In Italy, we do not make this soup for weddings. The ‘wedding’ refers to the ‘marriage’ of inexpensive meat and leafy greens that make up the main ingredients in this Italian wedding soup recipe.

Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe in a bowl with a spoon holding a meatball ready to eat.

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

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Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

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This Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe is nutritious and comforting. It is full of my Nonna’s Italian meatballs, vegetables, and acini de pepe pasta. Grab a warm bowl of soup and get cozy. This tasty soup is a timeless family favorite!

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

Soup 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup uncooked acini di pepe pasta (or any small pasta variety- suggestions in blog post)
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano for topping (parmesan)
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 recipe for Italian Meatballs 

Instructions

  1. Make the Italian meatballs. Cover and set aside. You can make them ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 24 hours in advance. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onions, and celery and saute until veggies are soft, about 8 minutes; add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
  3. Pour in chicken broth, season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the meatballs, and reduce heat to a light boil (about medium or medium-low).
  4. Cover and cook, occasionally stirring, until the meatballs have cooked through and are tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the spinach during the last few minutes of cooking. 
  6. Bring salted water to a boil in a separate small pot and cook the pasta according to package directions (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and add the cooked pasta to serving bowls, then add the hot soup on top of the cooked pasta. Alternatively, you can cook the pasta in the soup and add at the same time as the meatballs. 
  7. Serve warm. Sprinkle each serving with freshly grated parmigiano cheese and homemade bread.

Notes

Top Tips for the Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

  • Soak the bread for soft meatballs. Bread soaked in milk will puff up when cooked, creating little air pockets that make these meatballs extra soft. Our family prefers breadcrumbs that make meatballs tough or dry (panko breadcrumbs are an okay variation).
  • Use fresh herbs – This highlights the meatballs. Using fresh herbs adds incredible flavor to the meatballs and broth.
  • Fresh Parmiggiano Reggiano Cheese – Use the real deal here. It makes such a difference. Read TOP 5 Reasons Why You Should Grate Your Own Cheese.
  • Oil your hands, or use a little water to help roll the meatballs. This prevents the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands.

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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15 Comments

  1. I made this for lunch today. I can’t express how simple it was to make, not to mention fun! And it is SO delicious! My husband and I enjoyed it. Perfect meal for this rainy day on the Oregon Coast. Thank you Elena for sharing it. I love your account!






  2. Elena I love your recipes. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them!
    Are the meatballs in this recipe supposed to be baked first, following your Nonna’s recipe 🙂 or rolled into balls then dropped right into the soup?






  3. I’ve made this 2 times now. It’s so simple and authentic, delicious. I just used ground beef for the meatballs and didn’t use stale bread and they STILL came out fantastic.






  4. I made this soup a month ago and my husband and I both loved it. Luckily I made double the meatballs so we could make it again soon; I just froze them. This was far better than any Wedding Soup I’ve ever eaten. The directions are just perfect and it was not hard to make.






    1. I like your recipes they are so much like my moms n grandmothers. One problem I find it difficult to getting directly to recipe. Too much advertisements n writing. It should be easier to get directly to recipe.

      1. Hi Suzanne, at the top of the page, there is a “jump to recipe button”. You can go straight to the recipe. You will miss the step-by-step photos and other information about the recipe, but the recipe card has all you need to make the recipe. Enjoy.