Our family loves this hearty meatball soup for its simplicity and satisfaction. The tender meatballs are paired with just enough tiny pasta in a lemony bright broth. The delicious soup is comforting, cozy, made in one pot, and ready in 30 minutes.
If you love this hearty meatball soup, you will also love this lentil sausage soup, a red bean soup with greens or a classic Greek lemon chicken soup!
Why this recipe sings
This cozy meatball soup is a one-pot, 30-minute crowd-pleaser. The meatballs stay moist by simmering in broth, packed with flavor from onion, garlic, fresh herbs, sourdough breadcrumbs, and grated parmesan cheese. Its delicious broth is finished with lemon juice and zest for tangy brightness. Tiny pasta makes the whole dish hearty and satisfying, perfect for a fall dinner.
Here is what you need
- Ground beef and pork. Alternatively, you can use ground turkey. You might need to adjust the amount of breadcrumbs and parmesan to make the meatballs hold their shape better. It helps to refrigerate meatballs for 30 minutes before browning.
- Eggs. Just two are enough to help the texture of the meatballs.
- Parmesan. The grated cheese goes into the meatball mix as well as the broth.
- Sourdough breadcrumbs. I usually make my own in my food processor from leftover sourdough bread. I don't over-process them; I like a chunkier breadcrumb. Feel free to use store-bought if you prefer. Avoid preseasoned breadcrumbs. They have too much salt.
- Onions and garlic. One onion and the garlic go finely diced into the meatball mixture, and the other is diced and goes into the soup broth.
- Fresh herbs. I love spearmint, parsley and basil.
- Chicken stock. A veggie broth will also work. You can also use bullion cubes with water.
- Soup pasta. I use small Greek hilopites, a flat square pasta. Feel free to use the pasta shape of your choice. Adjust cooking time according to instructions.
- Lemons. For their juice and zest. Also used for serving.
- Seasonings and healthy fat. Extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, freshly ground pepper, and cumin.
How to make it
Shape the meat into small balls, about 1½ inches.
Spoon into bowls, and top with fresh herbs and red pepper flakes. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
Check out my Greek pantry staples
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Hearty Meatball Soup
- 1.2 lbs ground beef 550 grams
- 1.2 lbs ground pork 550 grams
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- ½ cup parsley
- ½ cup basil leaves
- ½ cup spearmint
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup soup pasta
- 3 lemons two juiced and zested and one cut into wedges for serving
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- dried oregano
- red pepper flakes
- Add the fresh basil, spearmint, parsley, garlic, one onion, and half of the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped.
- In a medium bowl, add the ground meat, ½ cup grated parmesan, breadcrumbs, herb, garlic, onion mix, cumin, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and two teaspoons of sea salt. Gently combine without squeezing too hard or overworking the meat. Lightly wet your palms and shape the meat into small balls, about 1½ inches.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large Dutch oven or wide pot over medium until shimmering. Add three or four meatballs and brown them on all sides for two-three minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat the process until all meatballs are browned.
- Add the other diced onion, season with salt, and cook until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot for any meatball residue stuck on the bottom.
- Add the meatballs and pour the broth. Bring to a gentle boil, then immediately reduce the heat to maintain an active simmer—season with sea salt to taste. Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked, about eight to ten minutes.
- Stir in the grated parmesan and the pasta. Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked. Follow the package instructions for pasta cooking time.
- Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Spoon into bowls, and top with fresh herbs and red pepper flakes. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
- Ground beef and pork. You can also use ground turkey. Due to its higher moisture content you might need to add more breadcrumbs and parmesan in the meat mixture so to make the meatballs hold their shape better. It helps to refrigerate meatballs for 30 minutes before browning.
- Parmesan. A good substitute is grated pecorino romano.
- Sourdough breadcrumbs. I make my own in my food processor from leftover sourdough bread. I don't over-process them; I like a chunkier breadcrumb. Feel free to use store-bought if you prefer. Avoid preseasoned breadcrumbs. They have too much salt.
- Fresh herbs. In lew of fresh herbs use their dried versions.
- Soup pasta. Feel free to use the pasta shape of your choice. Adjust cooking time according to instructions.