Italian Meatball Soup

Meatballs and pasta in a savory tomato broth, this Italian meatball soup is full of flavor. With simple ingredients and minimal prep, this hearty meal is on the table in less than an hour. 

overhead close up of meatball soup recipe


Winter Soups

As soon as fall approaches my favorite thing to do is make sure all my Dutch ovens are dusted off and ready for soup. We eat a lot of soup during the fall and winter. 

Soup is such an easy meal to make and there are endless varieties. You really are only limited by your imagination. A pot of soup can be a fantastic way to use up bits of ingredients in your fridge or pantry.

italian meatball soup in a cast iron pot

There have been many times I’ve just started tossing ingredients in the pot without any plan at all. We’ve rarely been disappointed with the results.

Meatball Soup

This Italian meatball soup came about when I had a bag of frozen meatballs, some veggies that needed to be used up and half a box of pasta. Since I always have staples such as tomatoes and broth in the house I decided to get to work.

This soup is rich and hearty. The meatballs and pasta make it filling and it’s full of flavor from the fire roasted tomatoes and fresh herbs.

side view of meatballs in a soup bowl

This soup has definitely made its way into rotation for the upcoming soup season.

Premade vs Homemade meatballs

This soup works well with either premade or homemade meatballs. Frozen meatballs have come a long way and there are plenty of good quality ones in the freezer section of your grocery store. We do call is easy meatball soup for a reason.

The nice thing about frozen meatballs is they are less work and they are usually pre-cooked. You can just add them to the soup and once they are thawed and heated through they are ready to serve.

overhead of two bowls with meatball soup

Homemade meatballs are more work, but you can control the ingredients and flavors, like using lean ground beef or even making chicken meatballs.

If you are going to use homemade meatballs I would suggest you pan sear them first to release some of the fat. It will also ensure they hold together whey they are heated in the soup.

white bowl of Italian meatball soup

You could even make a batch of your favorite meatballs, cook them fully, and then store them in the freezer for the next time you want to make this soup.

Meatball Soup Ingredients

The ingredients in this soup are simple pantry items. You probably have many of these ingredients already, and if not, don’t be afraid to use some substitutions. 

ingredients for meatball soup

Here are the main components of this soup and some things you can use instead.

  • Broth – I use chicken broth in this recipe because I feel it lets the tomato flavor come through a bit more. However, you can use beef broth, vegetable broth, or any combination of the three depending on what you have. 
  • Fire roasted tomatoes – These have a deeper flavor and are less acidic than regular diced tomatoes, but you can use whatever you have. If you are using regular diced tomatoes, you may want to add a tablespoon of tomato paste to deepen the flavor.
  • Meatballs – I use all beef frozen meatballs. But as mentioned above, you can certainly use homemade. If you don’t like beef, feel free to use turkey or pork meatballs instead.
  • Parmesan rind – yes, those hard rinds left after you’ve shredded all the cheese can be saved and used! When added to the soup what’s left of the cheese will melt away, and you would be surprised just how much you can get out of it. If you don’t have a ziplock bag full of rinds (like I do) that’s ok. Just add about ¼ cup of shredded parmesan cheese.
  • Orzo pasta – Orzo resembles grains of rice, only it is actually pasta. I like using orzo for this as you are sure to get pasta in every spoonful of soup. If you don’t have orzo, that’s ok. I would suggest using a different small pasta such as digitali or small shells.

How to Make Italian Meatball Soup

This soup is easy to make and requires only a few steps.

ONE – Heat the oil, onions, garlic and carrots over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften.

sauteed carrots and onions

TWO – Add the broth, tomatoes, dried herbs, meatballs and parmesan rind. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.

herbs, frozen meatballs and parmesan rind

THREE – When the liquid is boiling add the pasta. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes until pasta is al dente.

adding dry pasta to meatball soup

FOUR – Remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Add the chopped, fresh herbs, stir and serve.

adding fresh herbs to meatball soup

Meatball soup can really be a complete meal on its own. But if you feel like you want to serve it with something then some great choices are:

Freezing and Storage

The base of this soup will freeze very well, however the pasta will absorb the liquid and tends to become soft.

bowl of best Italian meatball soup recipe

If you want to freeze this soup I would suggest to freeze it before you add the pasta. When it comes time to serve the soup, cook up a bit of pasta to add to it.

You can definitely make this soup earlier in the day and let it simmer. Just wait to add the pasta until about 15 minutes before you want to serve it. This will help ensure the pasta doesn’t absorb all the broth or get too soggy.

italian meatball soup for pinterest

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close up of meatball soup recipe
best italian meatball soup in a white bowl

Italian Meatball Soup

5 from 5 votes
Meatballs and pasta in a savory tomato broth, Italian meatball soup is a simple and hearty meal that is on the table in less than an hour!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion , diced
  • 1 cup carrots , diced
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 15 ounces canned fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen meatballs (about 1 inch diameter)
  • 2 inches square parmesan rind , or ¼ cup shredded parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup orzo pasta , uncooked
  • ¼ cup chopped italian parsley , plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped basil , plus more for garnish


  • Add the olive oil, onions, carrots and garlic to a large pot and heat over medium heat until vegetables are beginning to soften, 5-7 minutes.
    sauteed vegetables
  • Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, oregano, basil, bay leaves, meatballs and parmesan rind. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
    how to make meatball soup
  • Once the liquid is boiling add the pasta and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes, until pasta is el dente.
    orzo pasta in meatball soup
  • Remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind, add the chopped herbs and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately topped with additional chopped herbs and shredded parmesan.
    fresh herbs in soup
  • It you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!


Calories: 582 kcal, Carbohydrates: 43 g, Protein: 28 g, Fat: 33 g, Saturated Fat: 10 g, Cholesterol: 83 mg, Sodium: 1565 mg, Potassium: 874 mg, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 7 g, Vitamin A: 5788 IU, Vitamin C: 33 mg, Calcium: 137 mg, Iron: 4 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 582
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easy meatball soup, italian meatball soup, meatball soup
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
close up of meatball in soup
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

5 from 5 votes

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    You had me, right off the bat, with “simple ingredients and minimal prep”! This is such delicious, hearty, soul-warming comfort food for chilly evenings! And thanks for the tip on freezing it without the pasta added – I love freezing individual portions of soup for quick little lunches, so that was super helpful!

  2. 5 stars
    I love how hearty and flavorful this sounds! Loaded soups like this are mainstays at my dinner table in the colder months.

  3. 5 stars
    I can’t believe how easy this soup is to make! I can’t wait to make it again, as it was a hit last night and I don’t have any leftovers!