This is the Best Italian Meatball Soup! The broth is garlicky with tons of flavor. The mini beef meatballs are loaded with a sharp Pecorino cheese and tender as little pillows. They are the same meatballs I use in my Sunday Sauce recipe! I really like the meaty ratio of meatballs to Ditalini pasta. This soup keeps the carbs to a minimum and protein high. The addition of white cannellini beans adds more texture and healthy goodness. This luscious bowl of Italian Meatball Soup is a meal unto itself and a favorite comfort food from my childhood.
One of the secrets to a great Italian Meatball Soup is to cook the Ditalini pasta separate from the soup. You want the broth on the thin side, not thick like minestrone. You can add some of pasta water to the broth to help thin it out. You can also add some chopped escarole to the soup at the same time you add the meatballs for an authentic and healthy option.
Be sure to serve this soup with lots of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.
Italian Meatball Soup with Ditalini and White Beans
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 6 cups 1/2 loaf day-old, dry, crusty Italian bread, cubed or torn into small pieces.
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 1/2 cups grated pecorino cheese
- olive oil enough for frying
- 1 28 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes (San Marzano or Roma)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic peeled, smashed and chopped
- 1 small sweet onions chopped
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper diced
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt + 2 tablespoons for pasta water
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of red pepper flakes season to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 15.8 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup uncooked Ditalini pasta
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Makes 24 mini-meatballs
In large bowl, whisk milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Add dry bread, mix until well coated and let soak for 10 minutes. Add more milk if needed.
Crumble the ground meat into the mixture and mush together with your hands until the meat and bread become a sticky paste-like texture. Mix in the baking soda and cheese. Cover with saran wrap and let sit for an hour in the fridge.
Roll the meat into small, spoon-size meatballs. Fry in batches over medium high heat in olive oil on all sides to a caramelized crust. Set aside to cool.
You can also make these ahead of time and freeze them. Thaw before putting in the soup broth.
In a large dutch oven or soup pot on the stovetop, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions start to get transparent, about 3 - 4 minutes.
Add chicken stock, tomatoes, carrots, salt, black pepper and oregano. Stir to combine. When the stock starts to boil, turn down to medium low heat. Add the meatballs, white beans and red bell peppers. Gently stir to combine and let simmer while you make the ditalini.
In a separate large pot pot on the stove, add dried ditalini pasta and 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water. Cook uncovered at a brisk simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is ALMOST al dente, about 6 - 7 minutes. Transfer the cooked pasta along with a cup of the starchy pasta water to the meatball soup pot. Let simmer for another 2-3 minutes to allow flavors to blend. If the Meatball Soup is too thick you can thin out with more pasta water.
Serve hot with crusty bread. Garnish with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Note: Cooking the ditalini in the Meatball Soup will make it too thick.
Optional: Add some chopped escarole for greens is desired with the meatballs.