Slow Cooker Italian Wedding Soup
Classic, easy slow cooker Italian wedding soup recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Loaded with vegetables, broth, meatballs, pasta.
This unique soup is actually a classic comforting hearty dish, like this Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup. The pasta and meatballs make it the perfect blend of light and heavy when paired with the delicious broth, which I find to be similar to Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Soup.
What is Italian wedding soup? Do you serve it at weddings?
This is a heavy broth-based soup with the classic flavors of Italian cuisine. It’s more common and popularly found in the USA at Italian restaurants. It typically contains green vegetables and meat in the form of meatballs. Orzo pasta can often be found in the dish as well.
Despite its name, this soup is not served at weddings, nor has it ever been a popular weddings. As with many translations, the original name of the soup as “minestra maritata,” which roughly translates into its current English name. The true meaning of this title is more along the lines of “wedded broths” since the original soup combined three different types of broths.
How to make Italian wedding soup from scratch in slow cooker?
- Add ingredients in crockpot – This includes onions, carrots, celery, garlic, broth, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper.
- Cover and cook – Until vegetables are softened.
- Add meatballs and pasta – In the final 30 minutes of cooking time.
- Cover and cook – Until pasta is cooked through.
- Add spinach– And let it cook until it wilts.
- Enjoy– Garnish with parmesan cheese and dig in.
What sides to serve with Italian wedding soup recipe?
In my opinion, the most classic pairing for any soup is bread. It’s perfect for dipping and absorbing all the broth. The best choices are ciabatta bread, breadsticks, garlic bread, dinner rolls or homemade buttermilk biscuits. Make sure the breads of your choice are thick and crusty so they can absorb the maximum broth without disintegrating.
Sandwiches are always a great idea. Of course grilled cheese sandwich is probably one of the most popular sandwich choices, but cucumber sandwich, tomato sandwich or even a simple veggie sandwich are all great choices. Simple buttered toast is not a bad idea either.
Salads really complete this meal. I recommend serving a salad that has a mild vinaigrette or dressing so that it doesn’t over-power the flavors of the soup.
Vegetables are always a healthy side dish. Try a sheet pan of variety of roasted vegetables.
Refrigerate – In an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Freeze – Since cooked pasta does not thaw well, freezing this soup is not recommended. However, you can freeze the soup for up to 1 month, if pasta has not been added.
Reheat – In microwave or stovetop. Please note that since the pasta absorbs a lot of the liquid over time, you will have to add a little more water or broth to thin it out, when reheating.
Garnish options – You can try shredded mozzarella cheese or fresh herbs like dill, chives, rosemary, basil, parsley, cilantro, green onions.
Use other herbs and seasonings – If you’re looking to mix up the flavor a bit, instead of using Italian seasoning, try using Greek, Cajun, Indian or Mexican seasoning blends instead.
Add tortellini – Instead of using the dry pasta, mix in pre-cooked tortellini in the final 5-10 five minutes.
Add other vegetables – Mix up your vegetable choices if desired and use sliced mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, kale, etc.
Use other meats– Try turkey, chicken, pork, or beef meatballs, or even ground/crumbled Italian sausage. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken in place of meatballs.
What other leafy green vegetables can be used in soup? Try kale, curly endive, or escarole, which are all great substitutes to spinach.
Make it spicy – You can add some crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper.
Add cheese – You can use Parmesan cheese or even mix in some cream cheese with the soup. Mozzarella would be a great choice as well.
Make it creamy– Mix in half and half or heavy cream for a richer flavor and texture.
Add wine- Replace some of the broth with white wine for added flavor. Just make sure it is not red wine. That will change the color and flavor of the soup drastically.
Tips and Techniques
Pasta absorbs broth – Serve the soup ASAP after it’s done cooking. That’s because the pasta will continue to absorb the broth as it sits and the soup will become thick.
How to make thicken soup? Simply continue to simmer the soup and steam off the extra liquid.
How to make soup thinner? Simply mix in more broth or water.
Use low sodium ingredients – Because it prevents this meal from becoming too salty.
Store-bought frozen meatballs vs. Fresh homemade meatballs– Either will work. I used frozen meatballs in this recipe for convenience purposes. Just make sure they are pre-cooked.
Can this soup be made ahead of time? If desired, this soup can definitely be made in advance, but I would only make it one day in advance. Do not add the pasta. Store it without the pasta then when it’s time to use it, add the pasta in over the stove top and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Use mini meatballs – Regular meatballs can be hard to eat when you’re looking to enjoy a comforting soup. Using mini meatballs will make it easier to enjoy a meatball in each spoonful.
Acini di pepe pasta substitute– You can use orzo, ditalini, or any other small pasta such as elbow macaroni noodles.
What is Acini di pepe pasta? Where can I find it? It is a small pearl shaped pasta. You can find it in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores.
Do I cook the pasta before adding it? No, the pasta will cook with all the other ingredients in the crockpot. Use dry pasta.
Frozen spinach vs. Fresh spinach– I highly recommend using fresh spinach because it tastes better and looks better in soups. However, if you must use frozen spinach, be sure to thaw and drain excess water first.
More Soup Recipes
Slow Cooker Italian Wedding Soup
- 1 cup Onion, Finely chopped
- 1 cup Carrots, Washed, Peeled, Diced
- 1 cup Celery, Washed, Diced
- 2-3 cloves Garlic, Finely minced
- 7.5 cups Chicken broth, Low sodium
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Salt, To taste
- Pepper, To taste
- 1 pound Frozen meatballs, Pre-cooked
- 1 cups Acini de pepe pasta, Dry, Uncooked
- 1-1.5 cups Fresh spinach, Roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, Freshly grated, For topping
- Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, broth, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper in 6 quart slow cooker and mix everything together.Tip: For deeper flavor, saute onion, carrots, celery, garlic with some butter and oil on stovetop for 4-5 minutes until they are fragrant and then, add them in the crockpot.
- Cover and cook on High heat for 4 hours or Low heat for 8 hours.
- Add meatballs and the acini de pepe pasta in the final 30 minutes and and cook on Low heat for 30 minutes until pasta is cooked through.
- Finally, mix in spinach and immediately, turn off heat. Allow the heat to soften and wilt the spinach (about 1-2 minutes).
- Serve in deep bowls with a generous topping of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheated in microwave or stovetop. Additional broth or water will need to be added when reheated since the pasta absorbs a lot of the liquid and can make the soup thick and chunky.