Turkey Meatball Soup with Quinoa

5 from 18 votes
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Turkey meatball soup recipe is a hearty and healthy meal! Protein-packed quinoa, beans & vegetables give more nutrients to your daily dishes.

Turkey meatball soup recipe packed quinoa, beans & vegetables.

Meatballs are the ultimate comfort food, and they are a big hit in our home. I typically simmer them in a huge pot of marinara sauce and make an Italian meatball recipe. However, now that temperatures are starting to cool down, I thought I would incorporate them into a big bowl of soup!

I wanted to try something different and healthier. This lean turkey meatball soup packs tons of protein from the poultry, beans, and quinoa. I also use a fool-proof technique called a panade to make the meatballs extra tender and juicy.

A one pot meal that is delicious and good for you, yes please!

Several turkey meatballs on a baking sheet ready to go in the oven.

Hey, it’s a yummy turkey meatball army waiting to jump into your belly! These cuties are made into smaller bites than I would usually form, about 1 tablespoon in size. The mixture consists of ground turkey, garlic, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and lemon zest.

The lemon zest gives a bright citrus taste that complements a lightened up soup. A panade made from panko breadcrumbs and milk is also added to ensure each meatball stays juicy and has a nice meaty texture.

Le Creuset Cassadou pan filled with turkey meatball soup.

The tender meatballs sit in a chicken broth with red kidney and cannellini beans along with aromatic herbs. Simmering these miniature meatballs in soup broth allows them to infuse the flavors of the liquid quickly and are easier to bite with each spoonful.

I like to make this recipe in my Le Creuset Cassadou pan. It can hold 3 and 3/4-quarts, so it’s large enough to saute, braise and make soups all in one beautiful pot. It is the perfect size to feed a crowd.

Browned meatballs from the oven now simmering in a soup pan.

Each bowl of turkey meatball soup is packed with nutrients so that you can enjoy each spoonful without guilt. The quinoa gives an extra boost of protein, plus fiber from the beans, and iron from the spinach.

You can also use these turkey meatballs for other dishes like an Italian marinara sauce with pasta, or try in sriracha honey chicken, or even in a tomato tortellini soup. The meatballs are versatile so you can switch any spices and flavoring ingredients you like to fit the dish.

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Recipe Science

How do you achieve healthy yet tender turkey meatballs?

A tender meatball always needs a base of ground meat, breadcrumbs, and eggs. I found using a ratio of 1 pound of lean ground turkey, ½ cup panade mixture, and 1 large egg works well. I then add other ingredients like Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and seasonings to help flavor the meatballs.

Turkey Meatball Soup with Quinoa

Turkey meatball soup with spinach and quinoa is a hearty and healthy meal! Protein packed quinoa, beans & vegetables gives more nutrients into your daily dishes.
5 from 18 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree, Soup
Cuisine Italian



  • ¼ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup water


  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onions, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken broth, or stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 15 ounces cannellini beans, canned and rinsed
  • 15 ounces dark red kidney beans, canned and rinsed
  • 3 cups spinach leaves
  • kosher salt, to season soup
  • black pepper, to season soup



  • Add rinsed quinoa and water to a pot. Bring water to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Turkey Meatballs

  • Pre-heat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Line a large sheet pan with foil and lightly grease with oil or cooking spray. Lightly spray a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • To make a panade, in a small bowl combine panko bread crumbs and milk. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then use a fork to mix together to create a paste.
  • In a bowl, combine the ground turkey, panade, garlic, onion, cheese, egg, parsley, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  • Form turkey mixture into 1 tablespoon-sized small meatballs (about 30) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake until cooked through, about 12 to 14 minutes.


  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  • Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and saute 1 minute.
  • Add cooked meatballs, chicken broth, thyme and rosemary. Bring broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the cooked quinoa, cannelini beans, kidney beans, and spinach and cook just until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes.
  • Add more chicken broth if desired. Season the soup salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 279kcal (14%)Carbohydrates 27g (9%)Protein 29g (58%)Fat 8g (12%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 68mg (23%)Sodium 523mg (22%)Potassium 607mg (17%)Fiber 6g (24%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 2800IU (56%)Vitamin C 14.9mg (18%)Calcium 140mg (14%)Iron 3.6mg (20%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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.

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Recipe Rating

14 Comments Leave a comment or review

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can add any type of rice (white, brown, wild), or diced potatoes would make a hearty soup.

  1. Erin says

    Hi jessica
    I’d like to try this gluten free, what would you suggest for a pannade type meatball with gluten free binder?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Myrna- Yes, if you have the frozen meatballs on hand feel free to use those. Just made sure that they simmer in the soup until completely warmed through. Kale would be a tasty substitute!

  2. Sharon says

    Thanks for this recipe, Jessica! It was delicious.

    Quick question for you, I had a little difficulty forming the meatballs into round balls, they didn’t look as neat as yours. 🙂 Would refrigerating the meatball mixture before forming them into balls help or are there any other techniques you’d recommend? Thanks, as always!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Sharon- I think that could help to refrigerate! Also, if needed you can add a little more bread crumbs, about 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing and trying to see if they form a more round meatball. Don’t over do it though, or the meatballs will not have a nice chew. Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  3. Ren says

    Sounds great~ Was white or dark ground turkey used? If I’m not using dairy what can I use for the milk…soy or almond milk….or just add more broth?

  4. Thalia @ butter and brioche says

    I have never made a soup with meatballs before for some reason, but I love this recipe. The addition of quinoa is fabulous – I have a serious love for the ancient grain.