This low-carb Italian wedding soup is loaded with mini-meatballs, carrots and green kale floating in a light, delicious broth. There are no breadcrumbs or Parmesan cheese in the meatballs, making it a nutritious, low-carb, keto-friendly, dairy-free and gluten-free meal in a bowl.
Total carbs 7g, net carbs 5g (without pasta)
Italian wedding soup is a happy marriage of flavorful miniature meatballs and bright greens floating in a light and tasty broth. I'm told it is not actually served at Italian weddings. Traditional Italian wedding soup contains tiny pasta.
Why make homemade Italian wedding soup?
There are many benefits that make it worth the time, and trouble, to make homemade Italian wedding soup.
- You can make it low-carb and keto-friendly by skipping the pasta and breadcrumbs in the meatballs.
- You can make it a meal by loading it up with fresh meat and vegetables. Making your own soup at home lets you make a balanced meal out of your soup by adding a healthy amount of fresh greens.
- You can make it according to your taste.
- You can make a big batch of soup to freeze for later.
- It is economical. It costs less to make soup at home than to buy small containers of soup from a store or restaurant.
- You can make a healthy version of Italian wedding soup with organic ingredients, less salt, and extra herbs and vegetables. It's a thousand times better for you than soup in a can.
- You can make it gluten and dairy-free. This Italian wedding soup recipe skips the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese that traditional recipes call for.
- You can eat as many meatballs as you like. I don't know about you, but I'm not satisfied with 1 or 2 measly meatballs in my bowl of soup. Unlike store bought Italian wedding soup, where you get only a few meatballs that are skimpy on the meat and full of cheap fillers like soy and breadcrumbs, you can make as many flavorful, juicy meatballs as you like to eat without all the cheap carbs as filler.
Italian wedding soup ingredients:
The meatballs in this soup are miniature in size so that they fit on a soup spoon. This Italian wedding soup recipe leaves out the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese that many recipes call for when making meatballs. You can add Parmesan cheese to the soup when serving as an optional garnish at the end, for extra umami flavor. If you want to save time and cut down on clean-up, you can skip the step of baking or frying the meatballs. Just drop them directly into the soup. Make sure that you simmer them for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I prefer kale over spinach in soups because it is heartier. It doesn't break down or change in color and flavor as much as spinach does when reheated. If you like bitter greens you can also use endive, Swiss chard or escarole. If you don’t like bitter greens, then choose kale, collard greens or cabbage. Since you can eat greens raw, there is no need to overcook them. Just cook greens until tender.
Traditionally this soup has pasta in it, but you can make a pasta free version to make it lower carb.
The soup base is a clear, light broth.
Ground pork and beef
Hearty pork and rich beef is just the right combination of texture and flavor.
Baking soda is the magic ingredient in these meatballs. I’ve tested meatballs both with and without baking soda and I’ve decided that baking soda is a necessary ingredient for an amazing soup meatball. Baking soda helps the meatballs float in the broth. They stay light and bouncy. They hold their juices and round shape better. The soup doesn’t get as cloudy when you cook the meatballs in the broth. The meatballs also brown better, if you plan to brown them first. Meatballs mixed with baking soda also retain their meaty color.
I use grated onion to keep the meatballs juicy and savory. Onions are also great for boosting the immune system.
Garlic is a necessary meatball flavoring. Who doesn't love a garlicky meatball in broth? You get a delicious burst of savory goodness every time you take a bite of meatball with your spoonful of soup.
Finely chopped parsley is a healthy substitute for breadcrumbs in the meatballs. Parsley adds fiber to the meatball mixture, keeping them from getting hard and chewy. Parsley is a nice counterbalance to spicy onion and garlic. It also packs a big dose of nutrients like minerals and Vitamin K.
Use 2 eggs to bind it all together.
Crushed dried Italian herbs brightens the flavors of the meatballs. Feel free to use fresh herbs if they are available.
Salt and Pepper
Sea salt or Kosher salt and some freshly cracked black pepper add great flavor to the meatballs.
This recipe calls for kale. Feel free to substitute your favorite and available greens for this recipe.
I like to add sliced carrots to the soup in the final minutes of cooking to add color and contrast.
This recipe calls for pre-made broth. You can use chicken, beef or vegetable broth. These all work fine.
Add a small amount of ground turmeric to the soup to give the broth a beautiful golden color. Be careful not to add too much turmeric or it will change the flavor of the soup. A ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric is good.
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Garnishing a hot bowl of soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds umami flavor and depth.
A cup of tiny pasta like orzo, ditalini or acini di pepe soaks up broth and fills you up. If you choose to add pasta to the soup, add 10 grams of carbs to the carb count of each serving.
Equipment you'll need
Soup pot and a ladle
You need a 6 quart pot or larger.
How to make Italian wedding soup from scratch
First prepare the meatballs. You can brown them first or just drop them directly into the soup. Add meatballs, along with the other ingredients, to boiling broth and cook for about 15 minutes. For a detailed description of each step, scroll down below to read the recipe card.
Frequently Asked Questions
The basic recipe is meatballs, greens and pasta in broth. The stars of the dish are the meatballs. The greens and pasta make it a balanced meal.
According to Wikipedia, The term u0022wedding soupu0022 comes from the Italian phrase u0022minestra maritatau0022 (u0022married soup”). Which is just another way to say that savory meatballs and fresh greens, in a bowl of tasty, hot broth are happy together - forever and ever.
For this recipe I don’t recommend using store-bought mini-meatballs since they contain soy protein and breadcrumbs as cheap filler, along with preservatives. They will raise the total carbohydrate count for this recipe. However, if you are short on time, have room in your carb budget, and want to use pre-made meatballs just be sure to add the extra carbs to the total carbs in this recipe.
What can I serve with Italian wedding soup?
You can serve a small piece of crusty bread or crackers on the side, for textural contrast. Skip the bread if you are on a strict carb budget.
How to store Italian wedding soup
Refrigerate leftover soup in a sealed container for up to 5 days.Print
Italian wedding soup is a happy marriage of flavorful miniature meatballs and bright, fresh greens floating in a light and tasty hot broth. The stars of this dish are garlicky meatballs prepared without high-carb breadcrumbs. Try this low-carb and keto-friendly recipe.
½ pound (8 ounces) ground pork
½ pound (8 ounces) ground beef
1 onion, grated
1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped (this yields about 1 cup of chopped parsley)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 cups broth, your choice of chicken, beef or vegetable
1 cup sliced carrots
10-12 ounces chopped kale (frozen or fresh are fine)
Salt to taste
1 cup tiny pasta (orzo, ditalini or acini di pepe work fine). Add 10 grams of carbs per serving.
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
- First, use a large bowl to mix pork, beef, onion, parsley, eggs, dried Italian herbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and baking powder. Knead mixture with your hands (you can use clean kitchen gloves) until thoroughly combined.
- Portion the meatballs by using a soup spoon. Use the tip of a spoon to scoop out a quarter-sized ball of meat. The finished meatballs should be small enough to fit into a soup spoon with room for soup. Form meat into meatballs by rolling it between the palms of your hands. If the meat is too sticky, try wetting your hands with water or coating them with a bit of olive oil. Arrange meatballs on a tray until ready to cook.
- This next step is optional. You can choose to fry the meatballs first to get a nice brown color, but this step isn't necessary for tasty soup. If you don't want the fuss and want to save time you can just drop them into the boiling broth for 15 minutes to cook and flavor the broth.
- If you want to brown the meatballs, then heat a large skillet over medium- high heat. Add a little oil to keep the meatballs from sticking. Fry the meatballs until browned all over. You can shake the pan occasionally to roll the meatballs around. This only takes a few minutes as the meatballs do not need to cook all the way through since they will finish cooking in the broth. You can ladle some broth into the frying pan to deglaze the pan and add the browned bits to the soup for added flavor. Note that this can make the broth darker and a bit cloudy. If you want light, clear broth then skip this step.
- Bring broth to a boil in a soup pot. Add meatballs, carrots and pasta (if using). Bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add kale and simmer for another 5 minutes until kale has wilted, but is still bright green.
- You may serve the soup at this point. However, you may continue to cook the soup if you prefer. I recommend pouring a ladleful of soup into a bowl, allow it to cool and taste it before deciding. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: Watch your fingers when using a grater to grate the onion. There is no need to grate the whole onion, leave a few layers on the onion on which to grip the onion. Pay close attention or wear protective gloves to avoid accidental injury.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Lunch
- Method: Boil
- Cuisine: Italian American
Keywords: Keto Low-carb Italian Wedding Soup