Nourishing Soup Series: Quick Italian Wedding Meatball Soup with Greens

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Italian Wedding Meatball Soup with Greens

No longer will I bake meatballs for 20-30 minutes and then wash nasty cookie sheets for 15 minutes.

Nope, thanks to my favorite soup book, Ladled by Kimberly Harris (of The Nourishing Gourmet), I learned that I can cook meatballs in 5 minutes with no drippy, baked-on meaty pan messes.

This soup recipe, the last one in the Nourishing Soup Series for this fall, is so versatile, so kid-friendly, and so easy, you’ll just love it. It uses ground beef and beef broth, but you can just as easily swap those for ground chicken (or turkey) and chicken stock and have a totally different meal.

My kids have this soup in thermoses for school lunch today, and last night dinner was met with cheers of, “Yay, meatball soup! I love this one!”

I love serving soup at least once a week because I know the immunity-boosting bone broth is important, especially this time of year, it’s easy to make a huge batch and have leftovers or stock the freezer, and it gives me simple prep as flexible preparation.

Quick Italian Wedding Meatball Soup with Greens

Quick Italian Wedding Meatball Soup with Greens
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I'm indebted to Kimi Harris' Ladled for teaching me that you can cook meatballs right in broth for soup. Might change my life!

Note: Ingredients often use affiliate links to Amazon, but obviously you should shop for the best price and try to keep your dollars local when you can.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 2 quarts (8 c.) beef stock
  • 2½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • ½ of a leek, sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed, or ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini
  • 2 c. packed chopped kale or spinach
  • for meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ c. breadcrumbs*
  • 1 egg
  1. *Options for breadcrumbs: You can make homemade bread crumbs following directions HERE, use purchased breadcrumbs (watch the ingredients), go grain-free with almond flour/meal, or try grinding up “buckwheaties.” (Learn how to make gluten-free buckwheaties at the bottom of this chicken nugget post.)
  2. Simply boil the stock, salt, pepper, carrots, leek, and garlic, then simmer for about 5 minutes to give the carrots a head start on the meatballs, which only take 5 minutes.
  3. Prep the meatballs: Mix together all the meatball ingredients well (be sure to take off your wedding rings) and then roll into 1-inch balls. One pound of meat makes about 20-25 meatballs.
  4. Lower the meatballs into the stock, add the zucchini, and get it boiling again. After about 5 minutes of cooking time, you can add in the chopped greens (any green is fine) and allow them to wilt for 3-4 minutes before serving hot.
Serving ideas:

* Add a bit of fresh basil or a dollop of pesto on top.

* Provide mustard for the meatballs. My kids just love mustard, and it's really pretty decent right in the soup.

* Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.


* Chicken or turkey meatballs and chicken broth is excellent with this soup.

* Zucchini problems? You can omit it entirely, sub it out for a finely diced or shredded potato or ½ c. rice, use diced zukes instead, or even double it. Flexible soup!

* Feel free to saute the leek to change the flavor or use an onion, but be ready for more zing with a white onion.

* Make a double batch of meatballs while you're at it. If you don't want a double batch of soup, you can bake the meatballs using the instructions HERE, freeze them in a bag individually and have a super quick meal on hand for “one of those days.”


Meatball Zucchini and Greens Soup Recipe

I’ve uploaded the meatball soup into Plan to Eat. They even have a “cooking view” so you don’t have to worry about touching your screen while cooking – it puts the whole recipe on one screen and suppresses your screen saver. Genius. Here’s the meatball soup recipe so you can pop it right into your planner.

Wintersoup 3D eBook 200Looking for more soup recipes? You won’t want to miss the eBook Winter Soups, a compilation from over 50 real food bloggers. I truly enjoy having this book in my collection for all the great new ideas. Check it out here.

If you’re as geeked about this way of cooking meatballs as I am and love fall soups, be sure to pin it for later! You can also follow my Real Food Soups pin board for inspiration.

Check out the rest of the Nourishing Soup Series:

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. Plan to Eat is a sponsor receiving their complementary mention. See my full disclosure statement here.

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12 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Christina says

    Yum! I was just this morning trying to come up with a ground beef recipe for dinner tonight that didn’t inolve tomato sauce (again). This will be perfect–and will include that beef kidney we have in the freezer!

    Every recipe of yours that we have made (spaghetti squash lasagna, beef broth, grain-free pumpkin muffins) has come out swimmingly. So if previous experience is any guide, this will be delicious. Thanks so much!

  2. Katherine via Facebook says

    I don’t care what you call it – it’s delicious! Thanks so much for sharing it! And a meatball baking tip (if you didn’t already know): they come out great when you bake them on stoneware and the clean up is a lot easier. Just be sure you’re using a pan with sides so the grease doesn’t run off.

  3. says

    Gosh, even after 5 years, it still kind of blows me away that real people are making recipes I share within just days of my typing it out. That rocks! Thanks Katherine and Adash!

  4. Katherine via Facebook says

    Don’t tell all the other real food blogs I follow, but yours is my favorite! I feel like we have so much in common. :)

  5. says

    Made this the other night and it was fabulous! I made tiny, tiny meatballs and got 90 of them, enough for a pot of soup the other night and some to freeze for the next pot. The soup was even a hit with my extremely picky 2 yr old-blended it in the blender for just a couple seconds so there were no big chunks of carrots and greens! Can’t wait to make this again and hand it out to friends at church so more ppl can taste the delicious-ness!

  6. says

    Doesn’t it get greasy though? Are you making it with grassfed beef or the grocery store kind? I simply can’t cook with Aldi beef unless I can drain it … I think it is 20% fat. 😛

    • says

      I’m editing this post and just noticed your question – no idea how I missed it! :( Sorry about that – I do use grassfed meat, so it’s much less fat than 20%. I imagine some would say the soup gets too greasy, but I love it. Ground chicken is probably even better (with chicken broth of course). You can kind of see how greasy it might be in the photo. If you like the idea of meatball soup, you could either bake the meatballs and drain the grease or just boil them up in a separate pot – it would be quicker than baking and still easier to clean up. :) Katie

  7. says

    Hi Katie! I found you via the Slightly Indulgent linky party and I am so glad to meet you. We are a gluten free, salt free, caffeine free and mostly dairy free family, so it’s always a challenge here! This soup sounds so awesome that even though it’s Summer here in the tropics, I think we’ll be trying it very soon…Mimi xxx

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