Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

Jump to Recipe

A big bowl of Italian wedding soup is a flavorful marriage of ingredients. Mini turkey meatballs are broiled until golden brown, then simmered with vegetables. This recipe features cheese-filled tortellini, but you can always go the classic route and use acini de pepe pasta.

Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

Italian wedding soup is affectionately called minestra maritata or “married soup”. It begins with a savory chicken stock base followed by add-ins like vegetables, meat, pasta, or legumes. The recipe is customizable to your liking, and thankfully tastes nothing like the salty, canned, store-bought version.

For a gourmet twist, homemade turkey meatballs are broiled to add texture and flavor. The smaller-sized portions perfectly nestle into the soup spoon. Instead of using the traditional tiny round and hollow acini de pepe pasta, I use tortellini to make the meal heartier.

ground turkey meatballs on a foil-lined sheet pan

How to make Italian wedding soup

  • Combine ground turkey, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, onion, and herbs.
  • Roll ground turkey mixture into meatballs.
  • Broil until lightly browned.
  • In a large pot saute garlic, onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil.
  • Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add meatballs and boil until fully cooked.
  • Reduce to medium-high heat and cook the pasta.
  • Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  • Season with grated parmesan cheese and black pepper.

Making tender turkey meatballs

Ground turkey is lean with very little fat. To ensure that the meat stays tender instead of dried out, use the right ratio of meat-to-breadcrumbs and eggs. I find that a ratio of 1 pound meat to a 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, and 1 large egg gives tender meatballs.

I use a similar ingredient ratio for my classic Italian meatball recipe. Ground chicken, beef or pork can also be substituted for the turkey.

Italian wedding soup cooking in a dutch oven

Enhancing the turkey flavor

Turkey can taste bland, so I like to add-in minced onions, garlic, aged parmesan cheese, oregano, and parsley to enhance the flavor. Broiling or pan-frying the meatballs before simmering in the soup adds surface texture and flavor from the browning. As the meatballs cook in the soup, they will slightly soften and infuse flavor from the broth.

The soup base

A simple combination of sauteed carrots, onions, and celery add healthy vegetables and subtly sweet flavors to the soup base. I like to use chicken stock to give more depth to the dish, however clear chicken broth can also be substituted. Fresh spinach is also added at the end of cooking to wilt the greens. Escarole, cabbage or kale are tasty alternatives.

Looking down on a table with two gig bowls of Italian wedding soup

Pasta selection

You can use any type of pasta for this soup, however, smaller noodles are typically added like pepe pasta (acini de pepe) or ditalini. For this recipe I selected tortellini, it’s a ring-shaped pasta stuffed with cheese and it makes for a heartier meal.

Popular soup add-ins and substitutions

  • Greens: Escarole, chopped cabbage, kale or swiss chard.
  • Meat: Ground beef, chicken, veal, or pork. Add sweet or spicy sausage.
  • Vegetables: Sliced mushrooms, green beans, broccoli florets, bell pepper, or corn.
  • Legumes: Red kidney beans, cannelloni, white beans, or lentils.
  • Herbs and Spices: Add red pepper flakes for heat, thyme, or rosemary.

Storing and freezing

Cool any leftover soup to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. Soup can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or individual servings can be frozen for up to 1 month. When ready to eat, defrost and reheat until the meatballs are warmed through.

browned turkey meatballs and cheese-filled tortellini pasta in a bowl of soup

More soup recipes

View all Soup recipes

The key to tender meat

The reason the ground turkey meat stays tender is because the proteins get coated in a starchy paste that sets into a gel when cooked. The combination of bread and liquid from the eggs creates a panade that helps keep the moisture in the meatballs and their shape intact.

Pin this recipe to save for later

Pin This

Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

A comforting Italian wedding soup recipe! A flavorful marriage of healthy ingredients like tender turkey meatballs, spinach, carrots, and tortellini pasta.
Pin Print Review
4.39 from 31 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian



  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, minced
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, ¼-inch dice
  • ¾ cup celery, ¼-inch dice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 8 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 8 ounces cheese tortellini
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • black pepper, as needed for seasoning



  • Set oven rack to the center position and preheat to broil.
  • Line a large sheet pan with foil and grease with olive oil. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl combine ground turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, onion, parsley, oregano, garlic, black pepper, and salt.
  • Roll turkey meatball mixture into 2 tablespoon-sized balls (about 1 ¼-inch in diameter). Recipe makes about 20 to 22 meatballs.
  • Evenly place meatballs onto the greased sheet pan.
  • Broil meatballs for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and set aside.


  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Add garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Saute until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add ½ teaspoon salt, stir and cook another 2 minutes.
  • Add chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the meatballs and cook 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-high and add pasta. Cook for 7 minutes or according to manufacturer's instructions. Turn off heat.
  • Add the spinach and stir into the soup until wilted, about 1 minute. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Serve soup topped with grated parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.


Want to save this recipe?

Create an account easily save your favorite content, so you never forget a recipe again.

Register now

Nutrition Facts
Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 448 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 4g20%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 123mg41%
Sodium 1197mg50%
Potassium 371mg11%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 5g20%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 42g84%
Vitamin A 8350IU167%
Vitamin C 19mg23%
Calcium 260mg26%
Iron 3.8mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tried this recipe?

Tag @jessica_gavin on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Tag @jessica_gavin

Filed under:

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

Jessica's Secrets: Cooking Made Easy!
Get my essential cooking techniques that I learned in culinary school.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

36 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    This looks delicious. I’d like to make it but the calorie count is high. How can I reduce the calories? Yes substituting another type pasta might help. Or Eliminating it completely even more.

    Also. How much is one serving? 1 cup?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Judy! You can substitute the tortellini with whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta or a smaller amount of your favorite pasta. I just made some spiralized zucchini noodles for a soup and that would be nice too!

  2. Jill Thomas says

    Five Stars! OMG, this was so easy, quick and still so flavorful. The meatballs were really tender. I used the Rana fresh Tortellini and they were outstanding in it. I did add red pepper flakes to the mirapoux as I like a little heat. Perfect soup for any day. Thanks Jessica!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Jill! You are baaaccckkk! How I’ve missed you 🙂 So happy that you are cooking up a storm and made this recipe. XOXO

  3. Jess Thomas says

    Just made this tonight, so delicious!! The meatballs were perfect texture and flavor, and so easy to broil them versus pan fry…definitely making again, thanks Jessica!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay Jess! Glad to hear that you are getting some good use out of your gorgeous kitchen. So happy that you enjoyed the recipe, hopefully Scotty-karate approved 🙂

  4. Lisa S. says

    Just found your blog and I am SUPER excited about this recipe! Making it for dinner tonight 🙂 Your photos are beautiful and if mine turns out tasting half as delicious as yours looks it will be a success!

  5. Gery says

    Totally loved this soup!! Will make again, meatballs were perfect, I baked them and they came out great. I also added more broth since the pasta soaked alot of it up., also added red pepper flakes to bump it up!!! Thank you!!

  6. Nikera says

    Hey Jess! I just discovered your blog, it looks amazing you did a really great job! The recipes look scrumptious as well, I’m excited to try so many of them.

    I was wondering, would this soup freeze well? I think I would leave out the pasta and add it in when it’s time to heat & eat, I’m afraid it would lose texture if I froze it.

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

  7. Patricia says

    I don’t like using my oven’s broiler. Could the meatballs be baked instead? How much time would be needed to bake the meatballs. Thanks!

  8. Rachel says

    I made your Italian Wedding Soup and it was delicious! I have always wanted to make this type of soup, but was kind of intimidated to try. My Italian husband loved it, as did my kids. It was a weeknight so to keep it a little lighter, instead of the cheese tortellini, I used acini de pepe. I will definitely try using the tortellini when we want a hardier meal. Thank you!

  9. Anne says

    Hi Jessica! I came across your pins on Pinterest and just wanted to let you know I made the quinoa salmon salad and today I made your italian wedding soup. My family loved them both and I will be adding them to my favorite recipes! Thank you!

  10. Michelle says

    I made this tonight – doubled the recipe for 4 people and had 8 meatballs left over. It was DELICIOUS, and the entire family enjoyed and said it’s a “keeper!” I added lemon juice to the recipe and used shelled past instead.

  11. Heidi Panico says

    I usually tweak recipes a little to suit my taste. I made this exactly as called for and it was amazing.

  12. Judy says

    Oh Jessica, what a lovely recipe. I made this last night. The flavors are over the top goodness. Really it is now my favorite soup and certainly the best ever produced in my kitchen. When my husband took his first bite he almost swooned and exclaimed loudly how good it is! My only change to the recipe was I replaced oregano with thyme as I am not an oregano fan. I had never heard of acini de pepe before so looked that up and will try it with that in the future. This time though I used the cheese tortellini. The recipe is not labor intensive and was a joy to make. Thank you for another recipe that I will use again and again.

  13. Allana says

    Made a “version” of this tonight; meatballs by the recipe and soup sort of “by what was in the fridge”. Awesome flavor in the meatballs, loved the quick broil method. I will definitely make this again 🙂

Leave A Reply

Recipe Rating