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Healthy Italian Wedding Soup

Author: Jess with


A healthy Italian wedding soup recipe, made with tender chicken meatballs, quinoa, kale & cannellini beans. this lightened-up Italian wedding soup gets an extra punch of flavor from lemon juice & lots of pesto, making it a cozy & comforting soup & fresh easy weeknight dinner all at once!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 2–3 carrots, diced

  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper

  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise & excess paper discarded (see Recipe Notes)

  • ½ cup dry quinoa, rinsed

  • 64 ounces low-sodium chicken stock

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • 2 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed

  • 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely shredded

  • for serving: pesto, extra grated parmesan, crusty Italian Herb & Asiago bread

for the chicken meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup grated parmesan

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper


  1. Prep the meatballs: Add all listed ingredients to a medium bowl. Season with ½ teaspoon each Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Use your hands to bring the mixture together, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Roll the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls. You’ll get about 20-22 meatballs.

  2. Brown the meatballs: Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2-3 batches, brown the chicken meatballs, about 1-2 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot – you want the meatballs to brown evenly to maximize the flavor in this lightened-up italian wedding soup. Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate and set aside – the meatballs will not be cooked through at this point, and that is totally fine!

  3. Cook the aromatics: Add the remaining olive oil to the same Dutch oven or pot. Reduce the heat to medium. Once hot, add the onion and carrots. Season with the Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon each Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften slightly, about 4-5 minutes.

  4. Assemble the lightened-up Italian wedding soup: Add the garlic, quinoa, chicken stock, lemon juice, & browned meatballs to the Dutch oven or pot. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the quinoa is tender. Add the white beans and shredded kale to the soup. Simmer for 4-5 minutes more, until heated through.

  5. Serve the soup topped with a dollop of pesto, extra grated parmesan cheese, & some comforting Italian Herb & Asiago no-knead bread. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

- Dutch oven: I like making this chicken tortilla soup, and all the soups & chilis I make, in a nice Dutch oven. The heaviness of the pot retains heat well & evenly. This is the Dutch oven pictured in this post. I love it. I also own this Dutch oven, which is a little more budget-friendly & works great!

  • Garlic: A whole head?! Heck yes! It’s my favorite hack to adding TONS of flavor to store-bought stock with hardly any effort. Halve the head of garlic crosswise, exposing the cloves. Use your fingers to rub off & remove any excess paper, then just toss it on into the pot! Remove the garlic when you serve the soup – or squeeze those cloves right into the soup for an occasional bite of garlicky heaven.

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