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Italian Wedding Soup with Orzo

There is something very satisfying about this Italian wedding soup with orzo recipe!  It’s all in the flavorful chicken broth, the succulent meatballs and the combination of vegetables!

A spoon holding a meatball and vegetables held over a crock of the soup

Did you know that this soup used to be called minestra maritata which if translated, would mean married soup.

According to my research, they call it wedding soup because the meat and vegetables are perfectly balanced together, hence the wedding part.  Also, it has the word Italian because it was a favorite of Neapolitans.

For many years, I thought this soup was served at Italian weddings, hence the name.

But, after my research, I realized I was too literal in my supposition. But you can see why I thought that, can’t you?

Can’t you?

It would be fun to serve this soup at a wedding, be it Italian or not.  Though, it is definitely more hearty than your typical soup course.

In fact, you could eat this as a meal and we often do.  Especially with some delish crusty bread!

A red pan with a soup of meatballs, spinach, and vegetables
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

How to make Italian wedding soup with orzo

Carrots and an onion cut in half on a orange board

Here is where I start.  I heat my stock pot on medium and grab two carrots and an onion.  I chop them both into chunks, dribble 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot and once the oil is heated, I place the veggies in the pot and sauté them for 10 minutes.

Time for the meatballs

As the veggies are sautéing, I start gathering the meatball ingredients.

Eggs, tarragon, onion and garlic powder and chicken on a grey table

In the background we have ground chicken.  You can make this soup, with other types of meats for the meatballs, but I have to say that for this Italian wedding soup, I prefer chicken meatballs.

I also grab some eggs, garlic powder, onion powder, tarragon, basil and salt.

Not sure why I don’t learn this, but I only use one egg for a pound of ground meat and yet I always bring out two eggs.  Just in case.

Do you do that?  Let me know in the comment section below.

What aren’t pictured above are the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs.

I get my medium/large mixing bowl and dump the ground chicken in it.

I crack ONE egg in it, eye the other egg a few seconds before moving on to measuring out one teaspoon each of the garlic powder, onion powder, tarragon, basil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

I also measure out 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.

Once everything is sprinkled on the ground chicken, I roll up my sleeves and dig my hand into the mixture to combine it all.

I take a small amount of meat in my hand and roll it into a cute medium sized ball.  I place the meatball on a plate and continue placing each meatball there until all of the chicken meat is used up.

Meanwhile, the veggies are done!

Overhead view of onion and carrots in a dutch oven

Make room for the meatballs

I use my wooden spatula to move the onion and carrots to the sides of the stock pot, leaving room in the middle of the stock pot for the meatballs.

I dribble 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and place each meatball on the heated olive oil.  As they brown, I gently turn the meatballs, being careful not to break them.  It takes about 10 minutes, maximum.

Next, I take out the chicken stock and orzo pasta.

Chicken broth and Orzo on a grey table

Once the meatballs are browned, I pour the chicken broth into the pan and bring it to a simmer.  I keep it simmering for 15 minutes before I put in a little more than a half cup of orzo in.

You can use as much orzo as you please, but I like just a little orzo in this recipe because this soup is all about the meatballs and vegetables.  And the marrying of those ingredients.


Spinach makes you strong

At least that’s what Popeye would say.  (If you don’t know Popeye, kids, google him.)

I let the orzo simmer for 8 minutes before dealing with the spinach.  You could also use escarole lettuce instead of spinach in your Italian wedding soup, but I couldn’t find any that looked half way decent.

Spinach on the table both strewn and in the plastic container

I grab two HUGE handfuls of spinach and put them in the soup.  I stir the spinach around and let it simmer for another 2 minutes.

Let’s see what the spinach looks like in the Italian wedding soup with orzo.

A red Dutch oven filled with a soup with meatballs and spinach in it

Yum, right?

Time to ladle the Italian wedding soup with orzo into two bowls for Christopher and I.

Two brown crocks filled with the meatball soup with a plate of bread in the background


I hope you enjoyed this Italian wedding soup with orzo recipe.

Please feel free to leave me a comment.  What is your favorite soup?

And as always, may all your dishes be delish!

If you’ve tried this or any other recipe on the blog, I’d love the hear what you thought about it in the comments below.  I love hearing from you!  You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST  to see more of my delicious food and delightful cocktails!

A spoon holding a meatball and vegetables held over a crock of the soup

Italian Wedding Soup with Orzo

Hearty and satisfying meatball and vegetable soup.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Soup
Keyword: Italian wedding soup, soup with meatballs
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 302kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion (medium, chopped in chunks)
  • 2 carrots (chopped in chunks)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1 pound ground chicken (or ground beef, pork, or turkey)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Broth, pasta, and greens

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orzo (heaping – or other small pasta like ditalini or stars)
  • 2 cups baby spinach (or escarole)


  • Heat a medium Dutch oven or stockpot on medium heat. Once it's hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and continue heating.
    2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Add onion, carrots, and salt. Sauté for 10 minutes.
    1 onion, 2 carrots, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Meanwhile put ground chicken in a mixing bowl and add the egg, garlic powder, onion powder, tarragon, basil, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.
    1 pound ground chicken, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Mix with your hands and start rolling the meat into medium or smaller meatballs.
  • Remove the vegetables and set aside. Add 1 tablespoons olive oil.
    1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Place the meatballs in the pan and let them brown a little on all sides. Be careful stirring the meatballs around as you don't want to break them up. This takes up to 10 minutes.
  • Add the cooked vegetables and chicken broth, and bring it to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4 cups chicken broth
  • Add the orzo and cook for 8 minutes.
    1/2 cup orzo
  • Add the spinach and stir until it wilts. This takes around 2 minutes.
    2 cups baby spinach
  • Serve, smile, and enjoy.
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Helpful tips

  • Fresh vegetables, good-quality chicken broth, and fresh herbs will enhance the overall flavor of the soup.
  • We love this soup with homemade chicken meatballs, but you can use store-bought or make your own with a mix of ground beef and pork instead of ground chicken. Ground turkey is another great choice.
  • Sautéing the vegetables before adding them to the broth brings out their sweetness and adds depth to the soup. I’m using carrots and onions, but I’ve also used celery, so you can add a few stalks if you like.
  • If you prefer a different pasta than orzo, you can use other small pasta, like ditalini or stars.
  • Traditional Italian wedding soup often includes spinach or escarole. Feel free to use a mix of your favorite greens for added flavor and nutrition.
  • Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a bit of heat.
  • Allow the soup to simmer gently to meld the flavors together without overcooking the meatballs or vegetables.
  • If you want to add fresh herbs like parsley or basil, stir in at the end of cooking to keep their flavor bright and fresh.
  • Offer freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the side for sprinkling over the soup, adding a rich, savory note.
  • Italian wedding soup can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Reheat gently to maintain the best texture.
  • You can freeze any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 756mg | Potassium: 653mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4412IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 2mg
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From lighting up stages with her BA in theater to food journalist, Elaine Benoit's journey is a testament to passion's transformative power. As the CEO of Dishes Delish, she offers a blend of healthy, comforting recipes and exquisitely crafted cocktails. Beyond the kitchen, Elaine voiced her culinary adventures on her podcast, "Dishing," and co-owns Food Blogger Help, extending her expertise to guide budding food bloggers to success. Whether it's for a heartwarming dish or insights into food blogging, Elaine's diverse experiences make her a beacon in the culinary digital landscape.

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  1. I love Italian Wedding Soup! I love that you used ground chicken for a healthier spin than beef. I am definitely making this for lunch with the girls the next time I host.

    1. Carrie, Me too! I try to substitute chicken when I can, though I do get grass-fed beef which is tasty! You’ll have to let me know how it goes! 🙂

  2. Love that bowl! It looks very vintage! I’ve got a cold…really wish I had some of your soup right now. It looks very comforting.

  3. İ was wandering around looking for this soup recipe. can’t wait to try this soon in my kitchen! thx for sharing the recipe Elaine. great post!

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