Quick Italian Wedding Meatball Soup with Greens

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Soup


I’m indebted to Kimi Harris’ Ladled for teaching me that you can cook meatballs right in broth for soup. Might change my life!


  • 1 Tbs. safe cooking oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 of a leek, sliced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 quarts (8 c.) beef stock
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt (if using homemade stock only)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 4 c. shredded or spiralized zucchini
  • 24 c. packed chopped kale or spinach
  • for meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground beef (try ButcherBox for grassfed beef, delivered!)
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. breadcrumbs*
  • 1 egg or 1 Tbs. ground flax seed in 3 Tbs. warm water (optional, not necessary)


  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. Crush the garlic and let it sit on the cutting board for maximum nutrition.
  3. In a large pot, saute the leeks in the oil over medium heat for a few minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and carrots for one minute.
  5. Pour in the stock, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for about 5 minutes to give the carrots a head start on the meatballs, which only take 5 minutes.
  6. Prep the meatballs:
  7. 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.
  8. 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 1/2 c. rice, use diced zukes instead, or even double it. Flexible soup!

* Feel free to change out the leek for an onion if you don’t have leeks, 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.”