Italian meatball soup is a good soup for a mug

The concept behind this kid-friendly traditional Italian meatball soup is the marriage of meatballs and vegetables. Petite, tender meatballs lounge amongst aromatic vegetables in a rich broth. This classic soup is a wintertime necessity for keeping cozy on a cold day.

Italian meatball soup

Serves: 8
Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • meatballs:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • soup:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup dried pearl barley
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish



To make the meatballs, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls and chill for 30 minutes.


Heat about half of the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large stockpot. Briefly brown the chilled meatballs on all sides, then transfer them to a plate. (See note below about baked option).


Put the remaining olive oil into the pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.


Add the beef broth, water, tomato paste, salt, parsley, oregano, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.


In a separate small saucepan, simmer the barley in 1½ cups of water with a pinch of salt until soft, about 25 minutes.


Put the cooked barley and meatballs into the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.


Serve with the shredded Parmesan and some crusty bread.


I am using a new technique of baking my meatballs. It keeps them in a more uniform ball shape, omits the need to tend them while cooking and is less messy. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake at 400°F for 20-24 minutes. Allow to cool and add to your soup broth.

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