This Italian meatball soup is tender beef meatballs, vegetables and pasta, all simmered in a rich tomato broth. An easy dinner option that’s perfect for a busy weeknight!

My family happens to love meatballs, especially the kids. I make sure to put meatballs on our dinner menu on a regular basis. I often do cheesy meatballs or Greek meatballs with rice, but sometimes I like to mix things up a bit and serve this hearty meatball soup.

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Italian meatball soup with beef meatballs, ditalini pasta and vegetables in a tomato broth.

Soup is always a great option when it’s cold outside, and I find myself making this meatball soup constantly during the winter months. It has similar flavors to the classic spaghetti and meatballs, but in soup form. Best of all, my kids adore it and happily eat the veggies in this soup!

How do you make meatball soup?

The first step is to make your meatballs. We’re going Italian style here, and these meatballs contain seasoned breacrumbs, herbs and spices, parmesan cheese, garlic and an egg to bind everything together. I broil my meatballs to brown them, and this step ensures that the meatballs will hold their shape in the soup.

Ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, herbs and parmesan cheese in a mixing bowl.

While the meatballs are in the oven, I make the base of the soup which includes carrots, onion, celery and plenty of tomato. After the meatballs come out of the oven, they go into the soup to simmer away with the vegetables. The final step is a handful of pasta, which cooks in the broth until tender.

Raw meatballs on a sheet pan ready to go into the oven.

Tips for Meatball Soup

  • I use 90% lean ground beef. It has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy.
  • You can use any short pasta you like for this soup. I use ditalini, but other great choices are macaroni, rotini or orzo pasta.
  • This soup makes great leftovers, but just be aware that the pasta will continue to soak up the broth as it sits in the fridge. You may need to add more broth when you go to reheat your soup.
  • Meatball soup is hearty enough to stand alone as a complete meal, or you can serve it with a side of garlic knots.
  • I like to make my meatballs on the smaller side (about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size), it’s easier to eat them in the soup that way.

Sauteed carrots, onions and celery in a soup pot.

Meatball Soup Variations

There are so many different ways to customize meatball soup – you can use different types of meat, add more vegetables or change up the seasonings.

  • Sausage & Mushroom: Use 50% Italian sausage, 50% ground beef in the meatballs, and add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms when you stir in the pasta.
  • Turkey & Spinach: Use ground turkey instead of beef, and swap out the beef broth for chicken broth. Add 2 cups of baby spinach leaves to the soup during the last few minutes of the cook time.
  • Veggie Lovers: Add 1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables during the last 5 minutes of the cook time.

A bowl of meatball soup topped with chopped parsley and grated cheese.

I serve this meatball soup with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and fresh parsley for the perfect finish. Your family is sure to enjoy this soup as much as my family does!

More great soup recipes

5 from 75 votes

Italian Meatball Soup

AuthorSara Welch
Italian meatball soup with beef meatballs, ditalini pasta and vegetables in a tomato broth.
This Italian meatball soup is tender beef meatballs, vegetables and pasta, all simmered in a rich tomato broth. An easy dinner option that's perfect for a busy weeknight!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Serves 6


For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • cooking spray

For the soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes do not drain
  • 16 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup dry short pasta such as ditalini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • parmesan cheese for serving optional


  • Preheat the broiler.
  • For the meatballs: place all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Stir with a large spoon or use your hands to combine all the ingredients. You can add a few teaspoons of water if needed to make the process easier.
  • Shape the meat mixture into small balls (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size). Place on a sheet pan lined with cooking spray. Coat the tops of the meatballs with cooking spray.
  • Broil for 8-10 minutes until meatballs are lightly browned.
  • While the meatballs are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots.
  • Cook the vegetables for 4-5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs and pasta to the soup. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until pasta and vegetables are tender.
  • Top with parsley. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.


Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 640mg | Potassium: 982mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 4145IU | Vitamin C: 16.5mg | Calcium: 167mg | Iron: 4.7mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I added 3 cloves of fresh minced garlic when I sautéed the carrots and onions, and I added a teaspoon of sugar, a couple teaspoons of lemon juice, and a teaspoon or two of Worcestershire sauce to the broth to balance the flavors. Instead of 6 cups of beef broth, I used 4 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of Italian broth made from Better than Bouillon Italian base. My kids came back for seconds and thirds.

  2. 5 stars
    I haven’t even added the pasta yet, but I tasted the broth. It absolutely delicious!
    I made this exactly as written, and rolling the meatballs is definitely a laborious task, so I can see why some people used frozen meatballs. But nothing beats homemade!

  3. 5 stars
    I I made this soup with leftover meatballs and used crushed tomatoes and chicken broth .I loved it!
    it was very delicious and easy to make.