Southern Wedding Soup Recipe


Serve your family a bowl of warm soup for supper. This recipe can easily be made on a weeknight in 45 minutes, or you can plan ahead. You can make and freeze the meatballs in advance. If you want to freeze the soup as well, just leave out the pasta. You can prepare that when you're ready to serve the soup. We gave this Italian-American classic our own twist with fresh greens and pork meatballs. The meatballs are also great with spaghetti or in a sandwich. If you prefer, you can substitute baby spinach leaves or turnip greens for the baby kale. If you can't find ditalini pasta, any small shape (like orzo or elbow macaroni) will work fine. Perfect in the evening with a glass of wine and warm buttery bread, Southern Wedding Soup also tastes great for lunch the next day.

Southern Wedding Soup
Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
8 serves



  • 1 pound ground sirloin

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from 1 onion)

  • 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)

  • 1 cup chopped celery (from 3 medium stalks)

  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic cloves (from 2 large garlic cloves)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 10 cups chicken stock

  • 1/4 cup jarred refrigerated basil pesto sauce

  • 1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta (about 4 1/2 oz.)

  • 1 (5-oz.) package baby kale

  • Shaved Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare the Meatballs: Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix gently with hands until incorporated. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon, form mixture into balls, and place on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until cooked through and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove Meatballs from oven; cover to keep warm.

  2. Prepare the Soup: Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion, celery, garlic, and salt; cook until onions have softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and pesto. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until celery is tender, about 10 minutes.

  3. Increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, and add pasta; cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in kale; cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.

  4. Place 4 Meatballs and 1 1/2 cups Soup in each of 8 bowls. Top with shaved Parmesan.

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