If you think you have to be a skilled chef to make this classic recipe – think again. Here’s how to make homemade Italian wedding soup that is easy, quick and absolutely delicious!
Perhaps like you, I once thought Italian wedding soup would be a hard and laborious recipe, requiring special care far above my level of cooking skills.
I was 100% wrong. Anyone can make this soup from their own home kitchen. It is so easy and simple to make but tastes like you spent all day on it.
About Italian Wedding Soup
Italian wedding soup is popular to serve during the colder months of the year, particularly during holiday seasons. It is an elegant and comforting soup that can be made in slightly over.
Although no one really knows where Italian wedding soup first originated, it’s always fun to speculate. Was it used traditionally for Italian weddings? Maybe.
Or perhaps it’s because the flavor of the mini-meatballs blending into the soup creating a perfect marriage of flavors.
Wedding Soup Variations
The general premise for making wedding soup involves forming small herb-filled beef meatballs that are cooked while boiling in chicken broth.
In this recipe we add fresh Italian parsley to the mini-meatballs. The two flavors blend extremely well together along with the other fresh ingredients.
There are different ways to make a good wedding soup. Some people prefer a hearty soup, loaded with carrots, spinach or other vegetables.
Then there are others, like me, that prefer a more simple and brothy soup, letting the flavors of the meatballs and herbs speak for themselves.
As with all my recipes, I strive to keep them simple, yet full of flavor. I find by adding too many herbs and vegetables, we lose the simplicity that makes this soup so enjoyable and satisfying.
In fact, this recipe doesn’t use anything that you probably don’t already have or can easily get at a store. That’s how easy it is!
This soup uses minimal ingredients. You’ll be shocked! This is all you’ll need below.
You’ll need one pound of ground beef to make the mini-meatballs. I use lean beef which reduces my fat intake, especially since we’ll be using chicken broth.
Choose a good quality chicken broth that doesn’t have any extra herbs that would overpower the recipe. You’ll need a minimum of 6 cups, plus 3 cups of water. You can also use homemade broth if you prefer to use your own. And of course, always avoid anything with MSG (monosodium glutamate).
Fresh Italian parsley
You can get fresh Italian parsley at the store if you don’t have any. But you really want fresh parsley, not dried. I’ve never made it with dried parsley, so I can’t guarantee the results. The parsley is mixed in with the meatballs and I think this is the secret ingredient that makes this soup so unique.
Use plain breadcrumbs. These will be added to the meatballs. I do not use toasted breadcrumbs, instead I use a few slices of bread blended in a blender.
Garlic is used as a part of the meatball and adds a subtle backdrop to the dish.
All you need is one egg which is the binder for the meatballs.
This is used in the meatballs (only a 1/4 cup) and for topping the soup. You can use Parmesan if that’s what you have on hand.
How to Make Homemade Italian Wedding Soup from Scratch
The best soups are ones that are made from scratch, and this one is no different. Your house will be filled with the Italian aroma often associated with wedding soup. I’ve included steps below for making this soup and you can also check out my video the recipe card further below.
Make the wedding soup meatballs first
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients.
- and a pinch of salt (optional)
Form little meatballs about a half an inch in width. This will make about 70 meatballs. Set them aside in a bowl. This takes me about 15 minutes if I’m not daydreaming about how good it will taste. 😊
Heat the soup and cook the meatballs
Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, heat your chicken broth with a ratio of 6 cups broth and 3 cups water. Bring it to a high heat and add the meatballs.
Next, lower the heat to a very low boil, and let the meatballs cook for about 45 minutes.
Cook the pasta
While the meatballs are cooking, you’ll want to cook your orzo pasta. These should take about 8 minutes to cook in boiling water. Drain and set aside until needed, but keep a little water in the orzo so they don’t clump together.
Note: You don’t have to use orzo pasta, but a small type of pasta that is not thick, but light and delicate. I find orzo is the perfect choice.
Serve the soup
Once the meatballs are fully cooked through, you are ready to serve the soup by first placing approximately ¼ cup of orzo in each bowl and then ladling the soup on top. Adjust to accommodate preferences.
Sprinkle extra cheese on top if you prefer.
Making your own homemade wedding soup is tastier than what you can buy at the store, and you always enjoy the following benefits.
- Control over the quality of ingredients
- You know what’s in the soup
- You can make it just like you want it
- Homemade soup is more economical
Tips about the chicken broth
Due to the flavor of the beef from the meatballs, I recommend reducing the broth to a 6:3 ration of broth to water. I have also found that low-sodium broths are typically not flavorful enough – but this comes down to personal preference.
Remember, you’ll not only have the flavor of the chicken broth, but of the meatballs too.
How to Store Italian Wedding Soup
Let’s talk about how to store your wedding soup. Whether you want to make it in advance or if you end up with leftovers, this soup is perfect for long-term storage.
The principle for storing this soup is no different than my other soups, such as my Italian cannellini bean soup, or blended chickpea soup. Wedding soupwill last a few days in the refrigerator but if you don’t plan on using it within 3-5 days, it’s best to freeze it. And remember to always let the soup cool before placing it in an airtight container so the steam will not build up.
The soup can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months in an airtight container. Remember to mark it with a date and the name of the soup. Simply remove the soup from the freezer a day before you plan on using it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Reheat over a stove on low heat.
What to Serve with Italian Wedding Soup
Italian wedding soup, similar to other Italian soups such as my Italian kale soup recipe, can be paired with many easy side dishes. Knowing what to serve with this soup couldn’t be easier. Here are some suggestions.
Italian bread. If you don’t have Italian bread, any artisan bread or baguette will do.
Italian green salad. Serving a simple green salad along with your bread and soup is always a perfect trio.
Additional meat. Although Italian wedding soup already contains mini meatballs, you can still serve a side of chicken breast as a second course.
Light pasta. My recipe uses orzo in the soup, but you can always limit the amount of orzo if you plan on serving a side dish of pasta. I’d suggest a light pasta such as pasta with asparagus and lemon.
Vegetables. Vegetables are always a healthy option for a soup like this. I’d suggest recipes such as my zucchini, butter and garlic recipe, or Italian broccoli and garlic.
You can watch my video below in the recipe card which goes through the process of making the soup. You’ll see how simple and amazingly delicious it is!
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
A great simple recipe to make Italian wedding soup. It’s not difficult at all. Very simple and tastes great!!
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 9 cups chicken broth or a 6/3 split between the broth and water
- 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 4 TBS grated Romano cheese
- handful chopped fresh parsley
- pinch salt
- 3/4 LB orzo pasta noodles
In a large bowl, mix the beef, egg, garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and pinch of salt until all ingredients are well blended.
Using your hands, make small little meatballs, no more than 1/2 inch in size.
In large pan or pot, heat up chicken broth over high heat, bringing it to almost a boil.
Gently drop the meatballs into the broth to cook.
Boil lightly for about 45 minutes until meatballs are fully cooked through. If the soup cooks down too much, add some extra water or broth.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta (orzo) in a separate pan. Drain and set aside. (Keep them in a little water to prevent them from sticking together).
When meatballs are done, place orzo in empty soup bowls then ladle the soup on top.
Top with extra Romano cheese if desired and enjoy!
TIP #1: Cooking the pasta separately keeps the soup from becoming starchy.
TIP #2: If you make extra meatballs, store some in the freezer for a nice snack for later.
TIP #3: Do not substitute basil for the parsley.
TIP #4: Some recipes call for a little spinach, but this is not required.
Tip #5: To help cut down on the fat, store the soup for a few hours in the fridge, covered to allow the grease/fat to solidify and float to the top. Now you can remove the unwanted fat.
TIP #6: Store in the freezer up to 6 months in an airtight container.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe for an easy Italian wedding soup. Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your own variations.
Stay in Touch with SimpleItalianCooking!
Original post 2016/09/04. Updated and rewritten Feb 14, 2023.