Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
the pioneer woman's italian wedding soup recipe

Caitlin Bensel

Italian wedding soup sounds fancy, but it’s really old-school comfort food: Italian peasants would throw a bunch of humble ingredients into the pot for an easy, satisfying meal. Luckily, the result was beyond delicious. This Italian dinner idea carries on the tradition with beef and sausage meatballs, a rich broth, and pasta or couscous. The meatballs roast separately and are fantastic on their own, in this soup, or added to classic spaghetti and meatballs. They can also be mixed, shaped and roasted a day ahead and refrigerated. Add this recipe to your cozy soups for fall, winter, or any time of year.

Why is it called Italian wedding soup?

Despite the name, this soup has nothing to do with weddings in Italy. Italians call it “minestra maritata” or marriage soup, because of the delicious marriage of different ingredients: vegetables, meat, and pasta. It eventually became known as Italian wedding soup.

What is pearl couscous?

This couscous looks like little pearls, which is how it gets its name. Pearl couscous is more like a pasta than a grain; it’s best boiled and drained or simmered in broth like this recipe. If you can’t find it at the store, substitute any small pasta like mini shells, orzo, or ditalini. Regular couscous would not work in this soup—it would absorb too much liquid.

What’s the difference between broth and stock?

Broth is made from meat and vegetables while stock is made from bones. Broth is best when you need several cups for a soup; it has a lighter color and milder flavor that won’t overpower the other ingredients.

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6 – 8


Prep Time:





Total Time:





For the Meatballs:

1/2 lb.

mild Italian sausage

1/2 tsp.

grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1/4 tsp.

chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish


garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 tsp.

ground black pepper

For the Soup:

1 C.

chopped yellow onion


garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp.

ground black pepper, plus more for serving

1 C.

pearl couscous or small pasta

2 tbsp.

fresh lemon juice

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  1. For the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 450º with the oven rack in the upper third of oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.
  2. Mix together the beef, sausage, parmesan, parsley, egg, garlic, panko, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined. Form the mixture into about 40 (1/2-inch wide) meatballs. Lightly spray the baking sheet with nonstick spray and arrange the meatballs in a single layer.
  3. Bake the meatballs for 6 to 8 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Increase the heat to broil. Broil the meatballs for 2 to 4 minutes or until browned. Set aside.
  4. For the soup: Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery, and cook for 4 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  5. Gradually stir in the salt, pepper, chicken broth, and beef broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and add the couscous. Cover and cook 8 minutes or until the couscous is just tender.
  6. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute, until just wilted. Stir in the meatballs and cook 2 minutes or until the meatballs are warmed throughout. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  7. Serve the soup in bowls, and garnish with additional parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and black pepper.

The finished soup will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

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