Italian Meatball Soup

4.80 from 10 votes

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After a trip to Italy, I was inspired to whip up this Italian meatball soup! Made with homemade meatballs, plenty of vegetables, and Marsala wine, it’s comforting, hearty, and bursting with flavor!

A bowl of Meatball and vegetable Soup

Storytime: On one of my European adventures, I traveled from Northern Italy (Milan, Lake Como), over to Venice, down through Tuscany, Rome and ending up along the Almalfi coast collecting recipes. Along the way, I stumbled across Italian meatball soup (sometimes called Italian wedding soup here). I ate it in a little local restaurant near our home base in Florence, and the chef actually served us himself. It was 1 pm and we were the first customers of the day. We were stoked — we love Italian food and we could tell that this place was really authentic, not touristy grub.

The soup was filled with al dente vegetables and pasta in a richly flavored broth. I later came to find out that it was made with Marsala wine and tender beef meatballs. I liked it so much that I asked the chef for his recipe. I had a hard time deciphering his handwriting, but I quickly entered it into my phone after we ate. As soon as we got home I tried my hand at it, and I think it nailed it!

bowl of meatball soup in white bowl on place mat

I love using my homemade beef meatballs recipe, but you can always use frozen if you need to. You could also alternatively use my Parmesan chicken meatballs recipe, but it will change the flavor a bit. Not all meatballs are created equally, after all. For another soup with meatballs, try my Caldo de Res recipe, too!

cooked beef meatballs

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Meatballs – Again, I have a preference for my beef meatballs recipe, but you can use frozen. Just make sure to thaw them first!
  • Pasta – Most Italian soups feature some sort of pasta or rice. I like using shell pasta. 
  • Spinach – This leafy green adds a lot of color and body to the soup.
  • Onion – I like using a large yellow onion for this recipe.
  • Garlic – One of the bases for the broth.
  • Crushed Tomatoes – Italy is the land of tomatoes, so you know it had to be included here. The dish wouldn’t be the same without them!
  • Carrots & Celery – I just love the texture that veggies take on in soup.
  • Broccoli – I told you that this dish was jampacked with veggies.
  • Marsala Wine – The ultimate secret ingredient in my Italian meatball soup! Don’t worry, all of the alcohol content burns off as it cooks and all that’s left is its delicious flavor. You can also omit it if you don’t like cooking with wine.
  • Stock – You can use chicken, beef, or even vegetable.
  • Olive Oil – To sauté the onion, garlic, and other seasonings.
  • Salt – To enhance the flavor of the ingredients.
  • Red Pepper Flakes – For added heat!
  • Italian Seasoning – This blend of spices is very easy to find in the supermarket and is usually made up of basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
  • Fresh Basil – Use it as a garnish.
A pot of Meatball and vegetable Soup

How to Make Italian Meatball Soup

  1. Choose Your Meatballs. If working from frozen, make sure to thaw them before you get started. If you want to make my classic beef meatballs recipe, come back once you’ve finished them!
  2. Sauté The Vegetables. Place a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté your onions for 3 minutes, then add the garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the stock and Marsala wine (if using) and sprinkle in the Italian seasoning. You can also add a Parmesan rind here for even more added flavor — just be sure to remove it before serving. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. 
  3. Add The Rest Of The Ingredients. Place the pasta or couscous, meatballs, broccoli, and spinach in the pot and stir to combine. Taste and season if necessary, then place the cover back on. Let your soup simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with fresh basil and a bit of grated Parmesan cheese!
overhead closeup of italian meatball soup

Why Isn’t It Called Italian Wedding Soup?

Italian meatball soup is often confused with Italian wedding soup. The truth is, it has nothing to do with getting married! It comes from an Italian phrase, minestra maritata, which means “married soup.” It refers to the marrying of the flavors that results in a delectable soup. All Italian “wedding” soups feature green veggies and meat, but the meatballs are always smaller and it has small round pasta like Acini de pepe, those tiny little round pasta balls similar to Israeli couscous.

Should You Brown Meatballs Before Putting Them In Soup?

If you’re using raw meatballs, you should. You can skip that step for my Italian meatball soup recipe as you should use precooked varieties. It makes the recipe a lot easier — and quicker — to prepare.

Do You Put Egg In Italian Meatball Soup?

Some recipes do call for an egg, but mine does not. It adds a bit of protein, texture, and thickness to the dish, but I decided to skip it here as the chef in that restaurant I mentioned didn’t include it!

overhead shot of 2 bowls of italian meatball soup and garlic bread

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This recipe post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking November, 2019, and was updated with new content, photos and/or video in August, 2022.

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A bowl of Meatball and vegetable Soup

Italian Meatball Soup

4.80 from 10 votes
This Italian meatball soup is my take on a classic! Featuring yummy beef meatballs and perfectly cooked veggies, serve it with Parmesan!
Servings: 10 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes



  • Thaw frozen meatballs or make my Classic Beef Meatballs. Set aside.
  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat add olive oil and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and season with salt and red pepper flakes, cooking another 2 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, carrots and celery and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and marsala wine (optional) and season with Italian Seasoning and bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cover. (See Note 3) Cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add the pasta or couscous, cooked meatballs, broccoli and spinach. Stir to mix thoroughly and season to taste. Continue to cook on low, covered for 10 minutes or until meatballs are heated through. Serve with basil for garnish and lots of grated Parmesan cheese.


  1. I make my own beef meatballs, but feel free to use frozen if short on time.
  2. I like the flavor of the Marsala, but feel free to omit if you prefer.
  3. Optional flavor tip is to add a bit of Parmesan cheese rind to the soup as it simmers for an added kick. Discard when ready to serve.


Calories: 213.27kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.32g | Protein: 10.13g | Fat: 11.26g | Saturated Fat: 3.37g | Cholesterol: 26.91mg | Sodium: 301.96mg | Potassium: 406.74mg | Fiber: 2.2g | Sugar: 4.14g | Vitamin A: 4498.27IU | Vitamin C: 19.63mg | Calcium: 41.83mg | Iron: 0.98mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
closeup of Italian meatball soup


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  1. 5 stars
    I found your recipe Kevin looking for meatball soup. My husband is a big proponent of BOGO and why not in this economy. He brought home beef frozen meatballs and I was looking for something a little different than throwing them in a jar of sauce for a quick meal. Although I did not have a couple of the ingredients, I am a seasoned cook so I know what works for substitutions in a recipe. The recipe is very straightforward and topped off with Locatelli cheese, the finished product came out perfectly for a cool evening’s dinner.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for such a great recipe-Meatball Soup. I finally got all that was needed and I made it this week. Delicious meal. Easy to make. I put some into my freezer for another eating. I will look forward to making again and again as we move into the colder season.
    Thanks again. Larry

    1. 3 stars
      I was disappointed in the recipe as published. I do not believe that the call for crushed tomatoes is accurate. Based on the photo provided, the tomatoes should be diced. I used crushed as indicated . . . To “save” the soup from being sauce, I strained out the carrots, onions, etc and continued with the recipe as directed. I will attempt this recipe again replacing crushed with diced.

      1. Sorry that was you experience Diana, either crushed or diced will do. As for the soup being saved from being a sauce, I’m a little confused there.

  3. 5 stars
    looks good. Similar to mine (married into an Italian family many a decade back). I like some of the things you’ve included such as the addition of carrots and broccoli. I use cut green beans and don’t remember if that was a change due to my toddler’s limited food preferences or if it was from my relatives who cooked like the rest in Calabria. Will definitely add carrots next time. Prettier that way. I do use beef stock, but that is a personal preference thing as you noted in your parenthetical comment). Do try acini de pepe next time! It’s our fave, but any small pasta will do. Such an easy soup to make. I make meatballs and freeze them in different sizes, so they are good to go for whatever you want. Thanks for all the recipes! I’ve tried a few but am not usually a “discussion” commenter on websites. I’ll try to rate them from now on. This recipe just took me back to being young and the recipes of my new in-laws.

  4. 5 stars
    Easy and quite good. The only thing I would change for next time is to add the broccoli at the same time as the meatballs, pasta and spinach, if not after, so that it does not get quite so mushy.

  5. Just curious, is there a reason why you used chicken broth instead of beef broth? It sounds delicious and it’s on my meal plan for this week.

  6. 5 stars
    I came across your website when searching for a recipe to use up marsala wine (other than chicken marsala). The soup and your meatballs with ricotta are great . Today I made the Chipotle lime honey chicken. A big hit ! Glad I found your websitd .

  7. 5 stars
    Your Italian meatball soup looks just perfect! We love soups like this that are super chunky and hearty enough to be a meal on their own!

  8. 5 stars
    What a hearty soup Kevin. We’d all love it. Need to add this to our weekend soup menu!

  9. 5 stars
    Such a yummy classic and for good reason! Nice n hearty and super comforting, what’s not to love with this warming bowl of soup ??