Italian Wedding Soup (Whole30)

A low carb and healthy Whole30 spin on traditional Italian Wedding Soup – comfort food at its best filled with veggies and chicken meatballs. 

overhead shot of a bowl of Italian Wedding soup

Minestra maritata – or as you might know it, Italian wedding soup.  Due to the many different ingredients used for making this soup, I have been a bit intimidated to give this soup a try at home.  Who can relate? But let me tell you it is actually so easy to make and following this simple recipe, you will not only end up with a comforting, warming bowl of goodness but also leave your friends and family super impressed.

I would go so far as to say that your guests may be tempted to think it was passed down from the resourceful Italian Grandmother that we all wish we had some days.

overhead shot of two bowls of Whole30 Italian Wedding Soup

What is Italian Wedding Soup anyway?

This soup originated in Naples and its Italian name is minestra maritata, which means “married soup” referring to the perfect “marriage”, the unity of all the ingredients going into this. When it became popular in English-speaking countries, its name was incorrectly translated to “wedding soup”

The authentic Italian version is very veggie-forward and uses leafy greens (chard, kale, chicory, etc.) and a hearty broth. The Americanized version also includes tiny meatballs and only a few mild greens like spinach. So not too fancy and elegant at all in its homeland, it could even be considered a peasant dish in which you toss whatever meat bits and greens you have sitting around.

a bowl of Italian Wedding soup with a spoon inserted

How to make Italian Wedding Soup:

picture collage demonstrating how to make meatballs for Italian wedding soup recipe

Step 1  – Make the meatballs. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Place the bowl in the fridge while you prep the veggies to firm up the mixture and make them easier to roll (if you already prepped your veggies, place the mixture in the fridge for 15 minutes or so).

Step 2 – Wet your hands with a bit of water and form into mini meatballs, placing them on a baking sheet as you work and washing/wetting your hands regularly between meatballs to prevent them from sticking. You should get about 25 to 30 mini-meatballs.

Step 3 – In a large soup pot, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add a few meatballs and brown them on each side. Remove from the pot and set aside on a plate.

A few important tips: work in batches, adding only a few meatballs at a time so you have plenty of room to flip them (I recommend using kitchen tongs). Don’t try to move/flip them before they are browned or they might stick to the pan and fall apart. Once they’re brown, they’ll release easily. You might need to add a bit more oil depending on how many batches you make. And remember: the brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pan are the best bits, they’ll give the soup a ton of flavor!

picture collage demonstrating how to make Italian wedding soup

 

Step 4 – Make the soup. Add remaining olive oil (1/2 tablespoon). Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Now, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add carrot and celery and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Step 5 & 6 – Add chicken broth and then the meatballs to the soup. Simmer over medium heat for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the veggies are super tender. Stir in spinach and lemon juice, and cook for another 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

overhead shot of two bowls of Italian Wedding Soup with chicken meatballs and diced veggies

Tips & Variations:

  • Searing the meatballs might seem like a tedious extra step but let me tell you it is a total game-changer in my opinion. Why just simmer the meatballs in broth and miss out on all that flavor? I did test both versions and searing the meatballs gave the best results hands down. I’m a lazy cook so you know that when I’m adding an extra step, it’s because it’s worth it!
  • Make the meatballs small and equal in size. If they are too big, the soup is awkward to eat.
  • I prefer the mild flavor of the spinach leaves best here but kale, endive, Swiss chard, arugula, or other greens commonly used in soups would work fine in this recipe.
5 from 4 votes
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Italian Wedding Soup

A low carb and healthy Whole30 spin on traditional Italian Wedding Soup - comfort food at its best filled with veggies and chicken meatballs. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian wedding soup, soup with meatballs
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 372 kcal

Ingredients

Chicken meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground chicken / 450 g
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast for that dairy free cheesy flavor!
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or a mix of dried oregano, basil and parsley
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 sea salt

Soup

  • 1 1/5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion minced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 cups carrots peeled and chopped (about 4-6 carrots)
  • 1 cup celery stalks chopped finely (about 2 large stalks)
  • 4 cups baby spinach or regular spinach, chopped
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • the juice of one lemon

Instructions

  1. Make the meatballs. Mix thoroughly all the ingredients in a large bowl. Place the bowl in the fridge while you prep the veggies to firm up the mixture and make them easier to roll (if you already prepped your veggies, place the mixture in the fridge for 15 minutes or so).

  2. Wet your hands with a bit of water and form into mini meatballs, placing them on a baking sheet as you work and washing/wetting your hands regularly between meatballs to prevent them from sticking. You should get about 25 to 30 mini-meatballs.

  3. In a large soup pot, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add a few meatballs and brown them on each side. Remove from the pot and set aside on a plate.

  4. A few important tips: work in batches, adding only a few meatballs at a time so you have plenty of room to flip them (I recommend using kitchen tongs). Don’t try to move/flip them before they are browned or they might stick to the pan and fall apart. Once they’re brown, they’ll release easily. You might need to add a bit more oil depending on how many batches you make. And remember: the brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pan are the best bits, they’ll give the soup a ton of flavor!

  5. Make the soup. Add remaining olive oil (1/2 tablespoon). Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add carrot and celery and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.

  6. Add chicken broth and then the meatballs to the soup. Simmer over medium heat for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the veggies super tender.

  7. Stir in spinach and lemon juice, and cook another 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Notes

Variations and notes

  • If not paleo or Whole30, add small shaped pasta like acini di pepe or Israeli couscous (ptitim). Cook them separately and add them to the bowls, not the whole pot. You might want to add more broth too (about 2-3 cups).
  • If not dairy free: add a parmesan rind to the broth. You can also substitute the nutritional yeast with fresh grated parmesan.
  • Searing the meatballs might seem like a tedious extra step but it's really worth it. Just simmering the meatballs in broth won't give you that delicious depth of flavor.
  • Make the meatballs small and equal in size. If they are too big, the soup is awkward to eat.
  • I prefer the mild flavor of the spinach leaves best here but kale, endive, Swiss chard, arugula, or other greens commonly used in soups would work fine in this recipe.
Nutrition Facts
Italian Wedding Soup
Amount Per Serving (1 /4)
Calories 372 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 138mg46%
Sodium 1941mg84%
Potassium 1721mg49%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 19287IU386%
Vitamin C 51mg62%
Calcium 155mg16%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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posted in
Chicken Clean Eating Dairy Free Gluten free Italian Inspired Main Dishes Meat Recipes Soups & Stews
4 Comments
  1. This Italian wedding soup is absolutely delicious! I love all the added veggies and chicken meatballs. It’s the perfect comfort soup as the weather is cooling down!

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