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A close up and macro shot of Italian wedding soup with turkey meatballs served in a white bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. The soup has been garnished with dollops of fresh pesto and shredded parmesan cheese. A spoon rests inside of the bowl.

Italian Wedding Soup with Meatballs (Chicken or Turkey)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 5 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Soup, Stew, & Chili Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian-Inspired, Italian-American


As a self-proclaimed soup aficionado, there are few things that I find more comforting on a chilly day than a cozy bowl of soup. This Italian Wedding Soup recipe is a longtime favorite, especially when I’m craving something that’s both comforting & light.

Inspired by the traditional Italian soup we all know & love, this recipe has familiar flavor with a few feel-good twists: we’ve swapped traditional beef & pork meatballs with leaner poultry meatballs (feel free to make them using ground chicken or turkey!), opted for a combination of protein-rich quinoa & white beans in place of classic pasta, & laced the broth with a generous amount of lemon juice for deliciously bright flavor.

The result is total lightened-up comfort food, ideal for a cozy & bright meal to warm up any chilly day. Leftovers reheat beautifully for easy lunches throughout the week, & they’re also super freezer-friendly – check out the Recipe Notes, below, for full instructions, along with a few alternate cooking methods & easy substitutions.

Ever since we first shared this recipe early in 2019, this Italian wedding soup with turkey meatballs has brought comfort & warmth to countless PWWB readers’ kitchens. We hope you love it as much as we do! ♡ Happy cooking!


  • chicken/turkey meatballs, below
  • 23 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise & excess paper removed
  • optional: 2 dried bay leaves, 1 parmesan rind
  • ½ cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 48 ounces chicken stock or broth
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • two 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely shredded (about 3 cups packed)
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: fresh pesto, shaved parmesan, finely chopped parsley or basil, crusty buttered bread or No-Knead Italian Herb & Asiago Bread

for the poultry meatballs:

  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey or chicken (see Recipe Notes)
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season


  1. Mix & form the chicken/turkey meatballs: Add the ground turkey or chicken, panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, egg, & Italian seasoning to a medium bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Use your hands to mix just until combined – take care to avoid over-mixing. Gently roll the meatball mixture into heaping tablespoon-sized balls – take care to avoid pressing the meatballs together too compactly. For quickness & ease, I like using a spring-loaded scoop. The mixture yields 20-22 1-inch meatballs. [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="39391,39394"]

    Eighteen formed chicken or turkey meatballs are arranged atop a metal baking sheet. The baking sheet sits atop a creamy white textured surface.

  2. Brown the meatballs: Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid such as a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot & shimmering, add the meatballs to the pot. Working in batches as needed to avoid overcrowding the skillet, cook the meatballs 2 minutes per side, until deeply browned. Transfer to a plate & repeat with any remaining meatballs.Ground turkey or chicken meatballs brown in olive oil inside of a large white pot. The pot sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  3. Cook the aromatics: Once the meatballs have browned, soften the carrots & onion. If needed, add in an extra splash of olive oil to the pot. Add the diced carrot & onion, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the veggies begin to soften slightly, 4-5 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning to the pot, stirring to combine. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.Carrots and yellow onion seasoned with Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and ground black pepper brown in olive oil inside of a large white pot. The pot sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A wooden turner rests inside of the pot for stirring.
  4. Build & simmer the Italian wedding soup with meatballs: Add the meatballs back into the pot, along with the garlic, bay leaves & parmesan rind (if using), quinoa, chicken stock, & lemon juice. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover & cook 10-12 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the quinoa is tender. Stir the white beans & shredded kale into the soup, then simmer 4-5 minutes longer, until heated through. Carefully taste & adjust seasoning as needed. [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="39402,39403"]
  5. Serve: Remove & discard the bay leaves, parmesan rind, & spent garlic (though it’s okay if a few softened garlic cloves stay behind!). Ladle the Italian wedding soup with chicken meatballs into individual bowls. Finish each bowl a spoonful of fresh pesto, extra shaved parmesan, & finely chopped fresh herbs as desired. For the ultimate comfort food meal, serve alongside crusty bread – this No-Knead Italian Herb & Asiago Bread is our fave! Enjoy!A close up and macro shot of Italian wedding soup with turkey meatballs served in a white bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. The soup has been garnished with dollops of fresh pesto and shredded parmesan cheese. A spoon rests inside of the bowl.


  • Ingredient Notes:
    • Ground turkey or chicken: The secret to seriously juicy & tender turkey or chicken meatballs is using the right poultry. Whether you decide to use ground chicken or turkey, it needs a decent fat content, otherwise the meatballs will dry out. Look for at least 93% lean, though if you can find 90-92%, that’s even better! If you’re purchasing from your grocery store’s butcher counter, ask for ground turkey/chicken thigh or dark meat.
    • Store-bought shortcut: If you’re short on time, feel free to make this Italian wedding soup recipe using your favorite frozen meatballs. I love these turkey meatballs & these mini meatballs are so fun! Most frozen meatballs are fully-cooked, so just drop them right into the soup pot as directed in Step 4 & simmer until they’re warmed through.
  • Storage & Freezing:
    • Storage & Reheating: Leftover Italian wedding soup with chicken or turkey meatballs will keep, stored in the refrigerator, for up to 4-5 days. Transfer the cooled soup to an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top until warmed through.
    • Freezing Instructions: Transfer cooled Italian wedding soup soup to a freezer-safe container & freeze for up to 3 months – these are my absolute favorite freezer containers for perfect individual portions! Thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight & reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
  • Alternate Cooking Methods:
    • Slow Cooker Italian Wedding Soup with Meatballs: For mot flavorful results, roll & brown the meatballs & soften the aromatics according to Steps 1-3, above. Transfer the browned meatballs & softened aromatics to your slow cooker, then assemble the soup according to Step 4. Slow cook on high for 2-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally as desired. In the last 30 minutes, add the kale & white beans to the slow cooker. If your slow cooker has a searing/browning feature, you can use it to cook the entire Italian soup (Steps 2-4) in the slow cooker.
    • Instant Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Meatballs: Use your Instant Pot’s “Sauté” setting to cook the recipe according to Steps 1-4, above. Cover & seal the pressure cooker and cook on manual high pressure for 5 minutes – allow for 15-20 minutes for pressure to build. Quick release the pot by carefully flicking the valve to its “venting” position. Stir in the kale & white beans – the residual heat from the pot should warm them up quickly.
  • 15-20 Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for this recipe comes from prepping & forming the chicken or turkey meatballs. Take care of some of this in advance & you can jump straight in to cooking during the week:
    • Mix & form the turkey meatballs according to Step 1 of Recipe Directions, above. You can roll out the meatballs immediately or save the rolling for dinnertime; either way, the mixture will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (15 minutes active)
    • Chop the veggies. Dice 3 medium carrots & 1 medium yellow onion. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active prep)