italian wedding soup

meatball, greens & pasta soup

When I first heard the term Italian Wedding Soup, I assumed that it would be a big production. In my head, the soup would be simmered over the course of 3 days in a pot large enough to serve an army (or 300+ very hungry wedding guests). Luckily, that was just my over-active imagination talking because an Italian Wedding Soup couldn’t be easier to make. It’s also the perfect meal for these blustery rainy days. Yes, the rain and howling winds are back with a vengeance it seems but this soup is the perfect cure-all.

meatball, greens & pasta soup

Wikipedia describes an italian wedding soup as a dish containing green vegetables and meat and so that’s what I did. I had some local organic ground beef and figured I’d spice it up with the addition of fennel along with all the usual suspects. And fennel was the perfect spice here as it gave these meatballs a unique twist. The rest of the soup came together quickly: kale, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and chicken stock. I used bowtie-shaped pasta, but orzo would be perfect as would any short pasta like macaroni. I should also note, if you have any Parmesan rinds laying about, add them to this soup for extra super flavour – just remember to remove them before serving or someone will end up with a mouthful of chewy cheese (not a bad thing, really).

If you want to keep things vegetarian/vegan, sub in vegetable stock and use your favorite veggie sausage cut into discs instead. Just remember to add the sausage near the end, just before the pasta is finished cooking as you just need to heat the sausage not cook it.

meatball, greens & pasta soup

33 comments to “italian wedding soup”

  1. 1
    Elizabeth   October 26, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I love soup and I love meatballs so why have I never put the two together? October has taken a warm turn here in NYC, but I am sure the chilly weather will be back soon–now i have the perfect thing to make.

  2. 2
    Ravenous Rowie   October 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I love that this recipe has fennel in it! I recently used fennel in cooking for the first time, and I love it!

  3. 3
    Eva   October 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Soup like this is always perfect during weather like this! bah! Love that you used fennel seeds…possibly my fave seasoning ever!

  4. 4
    Jess   October 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Ah, a meal in a bowl! I love the idea of adding fennel into the mix. I bet it’s great together with the sausage. We’re having an odd warm spell (it was in the 70s today!) in these parts, but I’m going to tuck this recipe for when, inevitably, the autumn chill returns.

  5. 5
    Liz @ Blog is the New Black   October 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    One of my favorite soups!

  6. 6
    Joanne   October 27, 2010 at 3:20 am

    My grandma used to make a kick-ass Italian wedding soup but no one thought to ask her for the recipe before she became too ridden with dementia to remember it. Sigh. I’m going to have to try a gazillion versions before i figure out how to recreate it. version number one. Right here.

  7. 7
    lo   October 27, 2010 at 7:50 am

    What are meatballs without fennel seed? You’re definitely a woman after my own heart. With all this blustery weather moving through Wisconsin, it’s definitely time for soup!

  8. 8
    Maddie   October 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    This looks so hearty! D.C. is strangely warm and humid, but with all the rain we had today, soup still sounds like a fantastic idea.

  9. 9
    kickpleat   October 28, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Elizabeth, it will be bound to get cold outside, no doubt! So keep this recipe for when the chill returns.

    Rowie, fennel is so good and it works so well in the meatballs!

    Eva, I’m just starting to use fennel and I really like its flavour! I can see why it’s a favorite.

    Jess, I’m jealous of your warm spell!

    Thanks Liz, it’s a good one with endless variations.

    Joanne, doesn’t seem like a bad way to spend the winter 😉

    Indeed, lo! I love sausage with fennel so I figured this would be the next best thing.

    Thanks Maddie, it’s hearty and filling and definitely warming.

  10. 10
    Bijoux   October 30, 2010 at 10:32 am

    A lovely soup for our crispy, nippy Toronto weather! And a perfect reason to use the Old Bay seasoning I’ve had in my cupboard for ages and never know what to add it to. Unfortunately, beef no longer makes it on my shopping list (i.e. food poisoning twice) so I think this would be great with the veggie sausage you mentioned. Thanks!

  11. 11
    Kitty (My Husband Hates Veggies)   October 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I love this soup! You’ve kicked up the spices in a way I have never tried….I always stick close to my Grandma’s version, which is also a great way to get my husband to eat some veggies…

  12. 12
    Kate   October 31, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    This is much easier than I thought Italian Wedding Soup would be. How lovely and perfect for these cool/rainy days we’ve been having!

  13. 13
    Tracey   October 31, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Can’t wait to try this soup this coming weekend, it looks fabulous. Thanks so much.

  14. 14
    chrishpl   November 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I made this and my husband LOVED it, he couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. I didn’t have fennel seed, but did have fresh fennel–so chopped up some of the leaves– but next time I think I would use the bulb (wasn’t too sure how it would turn out if I used it, I’m not that familiar with fennel but am trying to use it more). Thanks for an easy and delicious recipe!

  15. 15
    kickpleat   November 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Bijoux, yes, give this a try with veg sausage! I’m sure it would be great.

    Hooray for getting husbands to eat vegetables, Kitty. Good job.

    Kate, it is so easy – surprisingly so. Perfect for this fall weather for sure.

    Thanks Tracey!

    Chris, thanks so much for commenting! I think fennel would be great chopped up into the soup – the bulb in lieu of celery would be awesome. Some fronds floating around wouldn’t be out of place either.

  16. 16
    bambinosteps   November 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Oh baby. Italian wedding soup was such a special treat when I was a tot. I love it and have never thought to make it as an adult. Your version sounds delicious and it’s on my cooking to-do list!

  17. 17
    kickpleat   November 2, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Thanks Bambinosteps! Give it another look, it’s still as delicious 🙂

  18. 18
    lyla   November 7, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    hi, i’ve been so busy with studying and life in general that i’ve devoted less and less time to cooking. stumbling across your blog has reinvigorated my interest in trying new recipes, i look forward to trying some out =)

  19. 19
    Michelle   November 9, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The meatballs are amazing! My one recommendation was that the soup was really way too spicy with the cayenne and chili flakes – I made it again without the cayenne and it was perfect – thanks for sharing this, I now make all my meatballs with fennel seed!

  20. 20
    kickpleat   November 10, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Thanks so much lyla, I love hearing that! Thank you 🙂

    Michelle, glad you enjoyed the meatballs. Sorry about the spice, I’m a bit of a spice addict.

  21. 21
    ara jane   November 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    i just made this last night and it was super delicious! i made it veggie and used field roast italian sausages instead of the meatballs, which was a great choice (they, too, are filled with fennel seeds and lots of spiciness). thanks so much for this yummy recipe!

  22. 22
    kickpleat   November 20, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Yay, glad you enjoyed this ara jane!

  23. 23
    Rob   November 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    It’s FREEZING in Vancouver (As you know) so I decided to make this dish tonight….I’m going to use fennel pollen instead of crushed seeds….I’m excited to see how it turns out! 🙂

  24. 24
    kickpleat   November 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Rob, I hope you love it (and I’ve never tried fennel pollen before, sounds good!)

  25. 25
    Rob   November 23, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    It WAS good. I received praise from all who ate it, so thanks for making me look good!

    You can buy the fennel pollen on Granville island at the South Seas Trading Company shop.

  26. 26
    emily c.   January 8, 2011 at 7:04 am

    i’m obsessed with this soup. i’ve made it at least 4 times since you posted it and it amazes me with how simply delicious it is every time. i make it with lamb meatballs, no pasta, and parsnips instead of the celery. awesome. thanks for the great recipe that has become a part of our regular rotation.

  27. 27
    jacobspence   May 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I realize it’s May, but it was raining terribly here in Dallas so I made this.
    TERRIFIC! My wife walked into our place with a smile because of the aroma.
    I’m looking forward to making this more often after we move to PDX this summer.

  28. 28
    kickpleat   May 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Jacob, a true wet coast meal! Enjoy PDX (one of my favorite cities) and good luck with the move!

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