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Wedding Soup with zest in a bowl ff
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5 from 10 votes

Wedding Soup Recipe with Zest

Wedding Soup is a delicious combination of meatballs, orzo, chicken broth and vegetables that comes together for a hearty, comforting meal-in-a-bowl. This one is kicked up with lemon zest. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Servings (change as needed): 6
Author: Cheryl


For meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef, pork or chicken (or any combination)
  • 1/2 medium onion grated or finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped herbs (or 1 tbsp dried) parsley, oregano or basil
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 - 1 tsp)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese;

For Soup

  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon garlic about 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 cups Chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup dry orzo pasta (or acini de pepe pasta)
  • 1 large carrot, thinly shaved with a peeler then roughly chopped (or finely diced)
  • 6 cups 8 cups escarole or baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated from 1 lemon
  • Optional: 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Combine ground meat, egg, breadcrumbs, onion, salt, pepper and Parmesan and basil if using. Mix lightly with clean hands until well combined. Form into mini meatballs (3/4-1 1/2 inches). Partially fry or bake meatballs. Note 1.
    °To fry: Heat non stick pan to medium high. Add a few drops of oil. Place meatballs in pan an fry for 2-3 minutes per side to brown. Do not overcrowd pan. Do in 2 batches if needed. Transfer to plate lined with a paper towel to absorb grease.
    °To bake: Heat oven to 425F. Place meatballs on parchment lined pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size of meatballs. Transfer to plate lined with a paper towel to absorb grease.
  • ASSEMBLE THE SOUP AND SERVE: In a large pot, heat the oil on medium high. Add onions and saute for several minutes until fragrant and translucent. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add the broth, orzo (Note 2) and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes carrots are softened and orzo is cooked. Add meatballs and spinach - and stir. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Add lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add Parmesan cheese if desired or pass it at the table. Serve in bowls with crusty warm bread on the side.


  1. Instead of baking the meatballs ahead, use a shortcut: Drop the meatballs and pasta directly into the boiling broth without cooking them separately ahead of time.  Just cook them in the broth on medium-high for about 8-10 minutes.  
  2. Cooking the orzo: To reduce the starch in the soup, you can cook the orzo (or other small) pasta separately. Then add the pasta to the soup along with the meatballs. 
  3. Make Ahead: The soup can keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. If the noodles absorb too much broth, add some more when reheating.
Nutritional value estimates do not include optional Parmesan cheese. 
Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 418mg | Potassium: 848mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 5020IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 4mg