In this meatball soup recipe, the juiciest Italian-style meatballs simmer with aromatic vegetables and pasta in a rich tomato broth. Comforting and flavorful, it’s a hearty winter soup the whole family will love.

overhead photo of a bowl of meatball soup with a spoon.
Photo Credits: Suzy Karadsheh

This meatball soup, with its velvety tomato broth and garlicky Italian-style meatballs, is ideal for the coldest winter days when you need an extra dose of comfort. I was inspired by classic Italian wedding soup, with its aromatic base of onion, celery, and carrot and small, delicate meatballs. But I added a few tweaks of my own. 

I quickly broil the meatballs in the oven to form a golden brown crust. This caramelizes the exterior while keeping the center tender and juicy. It may seem like an extra step but it’s totally worth the added depth of flavor!

Small-size pasta brings that “mom’s chicken noodle soup” feeling. Everything simmers in broth spiked with canned tomatoes for a rich, stew-like texture that doesn’t need an hours-long simmer. 

It’s wholesome and full of flavor–a soup that both picky eaters and foodies will love. This meatball soup recipe is also very adaptable: you can use any broth or ground meat you have on hand.

As Sheila so perfectly summed it up in the comments, “This was amazing!! So simple yet spectacular. I made with beef meatballs for a friend after surgery. Even her 3 teens loved it. I also made a batch for us using beef broth but turkey meatballs. I loved it too.” Teen-approved! 

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for this Meatball Soup Recipe
  2. How to Make this Meatball Soup Recipe
  3. Leftovers, Storage and Freezing
  4. What to Serve with Meatball Soup
  5. You’ll Also Like: Favorite Meatball Recipes
  6. Meatball Soup Recipe
ingredients for meatball soup including ground beef, grated parmesan, bread crumbs, oregano, parsley, garlic, green pepper, canned whole tomatoes, carrots, celery, and ditalini pasta.


Ingredients for this Meatball Soup Recipe

This meatball soup uses a full range of vegetables and aromatics for a leaner soup with a robust, comforting flavor. You really can use this recipe as a guide, though, rather than a rule. Use what you like and what you have on hand. Here’s what you need, along with some ways to tweak things to fit your needs:

  • Ground meat: You can use lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey.  
  • Egg: Holds the meatballs together. 
  • Parmesan: Used in both the meatballs and as a garnish, parmesan brings an umami flavor. It’s relatively low in lactose, but you can leave it out to make this soup dairy free. 
  • Breadcrumbs: Keeps the meatballs from drying out and gives them some texture. Use an unseasoned variety, like Panko, or gluten free breadcrumbs if you’d like. 
  • Seasonings: Dried oregano, sweet Spanish paprika, and fresh parsley give both the soup and meatballs an aromatic quality and depth of flavor. Salt and pepper enhance the flavor, and red pepper flakes give the soup an optional kick just before serving. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Enriches the meatballs and holds them together. Use a high quality, extra virgin variety for the best flavor. 
  • Fresh vegetables: Onion, carrot, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic are fairly essential foundations for a classic homemade soup. I gave a range for the garlic. If you’re a true garlic lover, use 3 cloves in the meatballs and 2 cloves in the broth.
  • Broth: Chicken (homemade or store bought), beef, and vegetable stock or broth all work well for this soup, with beef being the richest option. I gave a range–use more broth if you like things a little runnier. You can even combine a 32-ounce package of broth with 1-2 cups of water for an economical option, it will just be a bit lighter. 
  • Tomatoes: Bring both brightness and richness to the soup. Use a high quality, unseasoned and unflavored can or jar of peeled tomatoes, like San Marzano.  
  • Pasta: I like dialtini, but pasta shells, macaroni, or any small, short varitey works best for an or an extra nostalgic quality.  
a large pot of meatball soup with a wooden serving spoon.


How to Make this Meatball Soup Recipe

This meatball soup recipe is fairly easy, using the power of your oven broiler to brown the meatballs in minutes with little effort. From there, everything is simmered until just tender and bursting with flavor. Here’s how you make it:  

  • Make the meatball mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 ½ pounds of ground meat, 1 whisked egg, ½ cup parmesan, ⅓ cup bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons oregano, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ cup chopped parsley leaves, and 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until everything is well incorporated. ingredients for the meatballs mixed together in a glass bowl.
  • Roll the meatballs. Form the mixture into meatballs–I like about 1 ½ tablespoon each. Arrange on a large, lightly oiled sheet pan and broil until browned (they will cook some more in the soup), 5 to 8 minutes.baked meatballs on a sheet pan.
  • Soften the vegetables. In a large pot over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 chopped bell pepper, and 1 to 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Simmer. Stir in 5 to 6 cups of broth, 1 (28 ounce) can of peeled tomatoes and their juice, 1 teaspoon of oregano, and ½ teaspoon paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cook over medium/medium-high heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Finish the meatballs. Add the meatballs and pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.a large pot of meatball soup with a wooden serving spoon.
  • Finish and serve. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the remaining parsley. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with a bit more grated Parmesan cheese. If you like heat, finish with a sprinkle of crushed pepper flakes. Enjoy!
close up of a large pot of meatball soup.


Leftovers, Storage and Freezing

This meatball soup recipe makes a good amount to serve 6 or so people. For our small family, we typically end up with leftovers, which makes for a great lunch the next day. To store:

  • To refrigerate: Transfer to sealable containers and allow the soup to cool completely. Once cool, cover and store in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Rewarm over medium heat, adding a little bit more liquid if needed.
  • To freeze: Make the recipe as stated without the pasta. Cool completely, then portion in freezer-safe containers. Leave enough room at the top of each container to allow for expansion. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw in the fridge overnight. Warm over medium heat. Cook the pasta separately in boiling, salted water, drain, then stir into the warm soup just before serving. 
a close up of a bowl of meatball soup.


What to Serve with Meatball Soup

Meatball soup is a full meal in one pot. You don’t need to fuss with any sides for even the strongest appetite to be fully satisfied. 

For an even more luxurious and comforting dinner, use your free oven to bake fresh garlic bread in the final 20 minutes before serving. A crisp winter salad, like lemon parmesan salad or fennel orange salad, brings a welcome freshness and tartness to balance the silky, savory soup.

You’ll Also Like: Favorite Meatball Recipes

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4.94 from 61 votes

Meatball Soup

Suzy Karadsheh
This hearty, easy meatball soup combines Italian-style meatballs, chopped veggies and pasta, all simmered in a rich tomato broth. Add a side of your favorite salad, and you've got dinner!
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 35 minutes
Total – 55 minutes
Cuisine:
Italian
Serves – 6
Course:
Soup

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ pound lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving
  • cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, divided
  • 1 cup chopped parsley leaves, divided
  • 3 to 5 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 to 6 cups (40-48 ounces) beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled tomatoes with juices
  • ¾ cup small pasta like ditalini or small shells uncooked
  • Red pepper flakes for serving (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Make the meatball mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add the beef, egg, parmesan, bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons oregano, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ cup parsley, and half of the garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until everything is well incorporated.
  • Roll the meatballs. Form the mixture into meatballs–I like about 1 ½ tablespoon each. Arrange on a large, lightly oiled sheet pan and broil for 5 to 8 minutes until browned (they will cook some more in the soup).
  • Soften the vegetables. In a large pot over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and remaining garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Simmer. Add the broth, tomatoes, remaining 1 teaspoon of oregano, and ½ teaspoon paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cook over medium/medium-high heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Finish the meatballs. Add the meatballs and pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Finish and serve. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the remaining ½ cup of parsley. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with a bit more grated Parmesan cheese. If you like heat, finish with a sprinkle of crushed pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Leftovers and storage: Allow the soup to cool completely, then seal and store in your fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium, adding a little bit more liquid if needed.
  • To freeze: If you're making this as meal prep to freeze for a later time, do not add the pasta. Make the recipe as stated without the pasta, cool completely, and portion in freezer-safe containers. Leave enough room at the top of each container to allow for expansion. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw in the fridge overnight. Warm over medium heat. Cook the pasta separately in boiling, salted water, drain, then stir into the warm soup just before serving.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 413.3kcalCarbohydrates: 33.2gProtein: 35gFat: 16.4gSaturated Fat: 6.6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6.4gTrans Fat: 0.7gCholesterol: 108.2mgSodium: 444mgPotassium: 943.7mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5.1gVitamin A: 4689.3IUVitamin C: 39.9mgCalcium: 168.9mgIron: 5.7mg
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*This post has recently been updated with new information for readers’ benefit.

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This soup is our absolute favorite! My in-laws request this frequently and there’s never a spoonful left. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    I don't like vegetable soup. This is one soup the hubby & I can't agree on. Then I found this recipe. We added corn, peas & green beans. Otherwise made it exactly to recipe. DELICIOUS! It must be the spices. Our new go to veg soup!

  3. This soup is amazing! I made turkey meatballs and used beef broth, it was delicious and a hit with the family. Definitely a keeper! You did it again Suzy!

    1. Hi, Leo. We've never tested this one in a slow cooker, but I'm sure it's possible. A few things I would recommend: fully bake the meatballs prior to adding them to the crock pot for the last hour or so of cooking (they are less likely to fall apart this way), and cook the pasta separately and add it right before serving. Enjoy!

  4. 3 stars
    I made this with ground chicken and chicken broth. It was quite lovely but I thought the paprika was a little overwhelming. It might be different with beef. I might go that route next time. Very filling!

    1. Appreciate the feedback, Deedee. Hope you do give it another try. This is a very forgiving recipe, so it's easy to adjust the seasonings to suit your own taste.

  5. 5 stars
    Made this according to the recipe and used beef for the meatballs. Great flavor! Thumbs up from everyone in my family.

  6. Just finished the premier, and I thought why not substitute your "Middle Eastern-Style Baked Meatballs"? I know the substitution is possible, but would it provide the same "hug" as the above meatballs?

    Lawrence

  7. 5 stars
    This is a banger of a recipe! It is my go to and the only one I use, so very glad I came across it in my searches.

    I have made it several times now and it has never disappointed - hearty, flavoursome and moreish, comfort food at its finest!

  8. 5 stars
    I was looking for a meatball soup recipe and came across this recipe. I have tested out other recipes from the Mediterranean Dish before and trust her food 🙂
    This hearty soup turned out so delicious. Thank you so much!