Anatomy of a Weeknight Dinner

5:00 Shut down computer. Start making meatballs.
5:15 Get sidetracked by mind-numbing carpool text thread.
5:30 Finish browning meatballs.
5:45 Pick up Kid One at friend’s house.
6:00 Start soup; add meatballs to soup.
6:30 Kid One sits down, by herself, to Italian Wedding Soup, a recipe that is debuting at the family table!
6:31 Kid One complains about stringy cheese. Scavenges for pasta. Eats a single walnut-size meatball.
6:45 Drive Kid One to soccer practice.
7:00 More mind-numbing carpool texting in parking lot.
7:15 Andy home, eats soup with Kid Two. Two rave reviews!
7:45 Me home, eat dinner standing up, ignore all texts. Wow, this soup is damn good.
8:20 Andy picks up Kid One at soccer.
9:00 Kid One starving. Eats second dinner, peanut butter on toast.


Italian Wedding Soup
There is really no reason why you can’t swap in your favorite store-bought, pre-cooked meatballs if you want to save time. (Also, this seems like a perfect meal to Deconstruct if you have a variety of eaters at your table: Serve a bowl of broth, then have everyone add what they want to the soup — pasta, spinach, cheese, meatballs. If you do it this way, make sure you cook the meatballs all the way through when you’re browning, instead of finishing them in the simmering broth.)

For Meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parm
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Few pinches fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
few glugs olive oil

For Soup:
olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock
four handfuls leafy greens such as spinach (shown) or kale
1 cup bite-size cooked pasta such as ditalini or orzo (optional)
Parm for serving

In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except for olive oil. Form into walnut-size balls — you want them to be manageably bite-size. Add olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat and brown meatballs on all sides. They do not have to be cooked through. Remove to a large platter.

Meanwhile, set a medium-large-ish soup pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Add carrot, celery, onion, and salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables have softened slightly. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and, using a large spoon, add meatballs to the broth. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until they are cooked through. Serve in bowls and stir in greens (uncooked, they’ll wilt in the hot soup), pasta, and more cheese if desired.

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Thank you for keeping it real! I love that even the kids of an AMAZING blogger and cookbook writer has picky eaters. And that it’s OK to substitute frozen meatballs. It gives the rest of us hope!


Great use of ditalini! I have been stockpiling it ever since you posted the recipe for Ceci & pasta. We eat that dish at least twice a month now. It’s solidly in the rotation. This looks like it could easily be worked in as well. Thanks!


I would love to try this with store-bought meatballs. Is there a brand that you actually like?


What could I substitute for cheese in the meatballs? My husband can’t eat cheese but I would really like to make the meatballs. Any suggestions?

Dani | salt sugar and i

Impressive schedule! AND impressive soup 🙂 looks delicious! I’m a winter lover so looking forward to cold nights snuggled up to a bowl of this soup in a few months… right now soup is the last thing anyone wants to eat… way to humid here blurr!! Bring on the cold!!
ps. just ordered your book 😛 excited!


I feel silly asking this… but what is ‘Italian bread crumbs’ ? Bread crumbs with herbs and/or parm?
Otherwise the soup looks delicious and I look forward to making it so that I can eat it standing up.


Italian bread crumbs — just means bread crumbs with oregano. You can mix in oregano to plain bread crumbs to make your own.

Linda griesel

My son, my baby, is my most enthusiastic eater and biggest fan of my cooking. He goes back to college this week and I’ve been wanting to try something new and comforting to make for a send off meal. This is perfect and he can take a container back for his dorm microwave. Thanks! Linda


Thank you for this recipe!! I made it last night and it earned rave reviews from husband & 3 kids. Definitely entering our rotation.

Debbie C.

I made this and my whole family enjoyed it! My kids especially loved the meatballs. I had most of the ingredients already, but had to leave out onions, fennel seeds and leafy greens since I didn’t have time to go to the market beforehand. But, I substituted in broccoli and it was still delicious. Thanks for the recipe!


Your night sounds pretty familiar. I always wonder to myself if these extracurricular activities are worth it. Thoughts? The soup sounds like a winner! I love a good meatball soup.


‘Serve in bowls and stir in greens, pasta, and more cheese if desired.’ From this last line, I assume that the pasta and greens have been pre-cooked, but the recipe does not say so. Please advise.


The pasta should be pre-cooked (you can simmer it right in the broth for 5-6 minutes if you want to, also); the greens don’t have to be pre-cooked. The heat from the soup should wilt them. I revised the recipe to make this more clear. Thanks for the feedback!


mmm mm looks great! I make a similar tortellini soup and love the idea of adding meatballs. One tip for picky eaters my no veggie eating son will eats tortellini stuffed with spinach cooked in yummy broth – he would balk at the same greens floating in the soup like it was poison!


Made this Saturday night and it was a huge hit! I doubled the meatballs so now we get to have them in a marinara over pasta during the week. This is definitely a keeper!


This is a family staple. A couple of suggestions? Try adding the mini cheese ravioli they have at Trader Joes. I also mix 14 oz of beeth broth with the chicken for a bit of depth. If you have a good glug of leftover white wine, I usually deglaze with that first. And of course, a prized cheese rind from the freezer takes it over the top. Happy Snow Day!


I finally got around to making this last night and my husband absolutely loved it. I love it when dinner is a slam dunk like that.


I love this soup. And so does my kidlet.

We also do an asian variation where the meatballs are seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. I add broccoli to the soup instead of greens just because they’re a little easier for my two year old to manage. Rave reviews and empty bowls every time.

Thanks for the inspiration.