Cheater’s Italian Wedding Soup

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cheaters italian wedding soup recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

We love a light, refreshing cucumber-avocado gazpacho as much as the next person, but when it’s dark at 4 p.m. and there’s a chill in the air, we crave a hearty soup that’s packed with meat and cheese—hence why we love this cheater’s Italian wedding soup. In every single bite you’ll get Parmesan cheese, beans, pasta, kale and juicy, bite-size meatballs. Best of all, it takes only an hour to make (with just 15 minutes of active prep).

The secret to streamlining this recipe is in those meatballs. Instead of calling for ground meat and a ton of spices, we swapped in spicy Italian sausage. It brings all the flavor without as much effort, and the addition of breadcrumbs keeps the meatballs light and tender. All you need to add is a crust baguette for dipping (and maybe a glass of wine).



1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup breadcrumbs

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

4 stalks celery, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 cup short pasta, such as ditalini

One 14-ounce can white beans

1 bunch kale, deveined and sliced

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Make the Meatballs: In a medium bowl, mix together the sausage, parsley, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

2. Using a tablespoon, form the mixture into bite-size balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

3. Make the Soup: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery; sauté until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the stock and bay leaf; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the pasta and beans. Cook until the pasta is al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the kale and the meatballs. Continue to simmer until the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Nutrition Facts
  • 510 calories

  • 29g fat

  • 42g carbs

  • 22g protein

  • 8g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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