Chef John's Italian Wedding Soup

Chef John's Italian Wedding Soup

Chef John 15813

"Don't wait for a wedding to make this delicious and comforting soup with kale, tiny pasta, and tender little beef meatballs."

Ingredients 6 h 10 m {{adjustedServings}} servings 214 cals

Serving size has been adjusted!

Original recipe yields 8 servings



Amount per serving ({{servings}} total)

  • Calories:
  • 214 kcal
  • 11%
  • Fat:
  • 10.2 g
  • 16%
  • Carbs:
  • 16.8g
  • 5%
  • Protein:
  • 14.5 g
  • 29%
  • Cholesterol:
  • 47 mg
  • 16%
  • Sodium:
  • 713 mg
  • 29%

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

On Sale

What's on sale near you.


  • Prep

  • Cook

  • Ready In

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat; brown beef shank slice in hot oil until seared and browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Add onion, carrot, celery, water, bay leaf, 3 cloves peeled garlic, and black peppercorns; bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat falls off the bone and stock turns brown in color, 4 to 5 hours. Add more water if beef stock level gets below about 5 cups.
  2. Place beef short ribs into freezer until firm and very cold, about 15 minutes. Cut meat into cubes and return to freezer until almost frozen, about 30 more minutes.
  3. Whisk egg with parsley, 2 cloves garlic, and cream in a bowl. Stir in bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  4. Place partially-frozen beef cubes into food processor and pulse with with 1/3 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper until beef is coarsely ground, 5 to 10 pulses. Pulse in bread crumb mixture until mixture is finely ground, about 5 more pulses. Transfer meat to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
  5. Strain beef stock into a large soup pot, discarding beef and vegetables. Mix chicken broth into beef stock and whisk in tomato paste. Bring broth mixture to a simmer and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir kale into broth; simmer kale until tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Scoop 2-teaspoon portions of the meat mixture and roll into meatballs.
  7. Pour pastina into the simmering soup, cook for 5 minutes, and gently add meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes. Serve in bowls garnished with a pinch of black pepper or a sprinkle of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Tips & Tricks
Chef John's Irish Pork Stew

Now here’s what we should be eating for St. Patrick’s Day!

Italian Sausage Soup

A hearty winter soup with sausage, white beans, zucchini, and spinach.


  • Cook's Note:
  • To make fresh bread crumbs, cut crusts from fresh Italian bread, cut bread into cubes, and process in a food processor into fine crumbs, 10 to 30 seconds.
Rate recipe

Your rating


Reviews 4

  1. 7 Ratings


For those wondering where the ground beef is, The recipe has you use a food processor to coarsely grind the beef and combine it with the meatball ingredients. Overall this is an amazing recipe and everyone should give it a try.


Delicious. Made this tonight and it is so tasty. I had lots of greens in frig so used one 10 oz packages of Kale and 1 pkg Southern Greens from Trader Joe's with eggs, heavy whipping cream and bread. Made meatballs with 1 pound ground beef and one pound ground pork gently turning with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Now don't get mad at me Purists, but had to also use Herbs de Provence because because my Anise had walked away and I thought Herbs de Provence would do fine in the meatballs. Baked meatballs and added just before I served. Couldn't find Pastina at the fancy grocery store where I bought the Beef Shank but they did have tiny Italian pasta Alphabet things so added those. Strongly recommend using baking sheet for meatballs-used Foil and it was a mess until I rescued the meatballs to a baking pan. Since I am the only one here who loves pasta, now I have lots of meatballs for pasta which I will make and enjoy in secret.


Chef John, I have not made this yet....I definitely want to try it, but I was wondering, why do you not just use ground beef instead of using a food processor to grind it?