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Italian comfort food at its best, this easy soup recipe lends itself to countless variations. Our version includes white beans for extra fiber and protein.

EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016; updated March 2023


Recipe Summary

30 mins
1 hr 30 mins

How to Make Healthy Italian Wedding Soup

This version of Italian wedding soup features turkey meatballs, veggies and fiber-rich beans. Here are tips on how to make it:

Use Ground Turkey Breast for the Meatballs

Meatballs made with ground turkey are a lean alternative to beef meatballs, provided you choose turkey ground from the breast. Ground turkey breast has less fat than regular ground turkey, which is a mixture of light and dark meat and some skin. A mixture of whole-wheat breadcrumbs, egg, fresh parsley, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and crushed fennel seeds keeps these low-fat meatballs moist, tender and flavorful.

Brown the Meatballs

Browning the meatballs before adding them to the soup gives them a boost of flavor. It also creates "fond" in the skillet, which is the caramelized browned bits at the bottom of pans after browning meat. The fond is deglazed with white wine which adds even more flavor to the soup. Browning also forms a crust on the meatballs which helps them keep their shape when simmering in the soup.

Add the Veggies and Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

This soup is loaded with healthy carrots, celery, cabbage, white beans and escarole or kale. Substitute spinach, chicory, chard or any other leafy green for the escarole or kale, and any leftover cooked (or canned) beans for the white beans. Use low-sodium chicken broth to reduce sodium intake.

Can I Make Italian Wedding Soup Ahead?

Absolutely! Refrigerate the soup for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat and top with cheese just before serving.

Additional reporting by Jan Valdez




Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare meatballs: Combine turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire, fennel seeds, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm up. With damp hands, shape the mixture into 32 (1-inch) meatballs (about 1 scant tablespoon each).

  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and add wine, stirring gently to loosen any browned bits.

  • To prepare soup: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring, 5 minutes more. Stir in broth, beans, escarole (or kale) and the meatballs and any juice. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon grated cheese.


Large nonstick skillet, soup pot or Dutch oven


To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs.

Nutrition Facts

about 1 3/4 cups with 4 meatballs
284 calories; protein 23.9g; carbohydrates 23.5g; dietary fiber 6.3g; sugars 4.6g; fat 11.1g; saturated fat 3.5g; cholesterol 60.1mg; vitamin a iu 4130.1IU; vitamin c 21.9mg; folate 141.5mcg; calcium 205.7mg; iron 3.3mg; magnesium 33.3mg; potassium 869.9mg; sodium 522.5mg; thiamin 0.1mg.

1/2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 lean meat, 2 medium-fat meat, 1/2 fat