Mini Meatball and Kale Soup

The weather has been cool in Hawaii (my friends in Boston and Nebraska are laughing now because by cool I mean mid-60s) so I am sharing another favorite soup recipe. Filled with mini meatballs, hearty kale, and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan, this soup makes a filling meal.

Mini Meatball and Kale Soup

This recipe calls for staple vegetables that we always have on hand – onions, carrots, celery, and garlic – as well as other ingredients from the pantry. We are also fortunate that we can grow things year-round including kale and herbs. A quick stop at the market for ground beef and pork and we are ready to put together this soup.

Lacinato or Tuscan kale from our garden
Lacinato kale from our garden

Fresh herbs from our garden
Bay leaves, basil, and parsley from our garden

Don’t let the thought of making meatballs deter you. These are simple meatballs which require very little prep other than chopping a few fresh herbs and combining everything in a bowl. Using a cookie scoop makes the job even faster. My pro tip is to make a double batch of meatballs, freezing half for another day. It’s just a little more work and at least half of the job is done the next time you make this soup.

Meatballs ready for the soup

I don’t try to make perfect meatballs. I scoop and leave it at that. If you are serving this soup to guests, you may want to take a little time to roll them into pretty meatballs. It all comes down to personal preference.

Mini meatball and kale soup

This soup is similar to an Italian Wedding Soup without the pasta or spinach. Feel free to add a small pasta like ditalini or acini di pepe and replace the kale with spinach if you prefer. I have also seen recipes that drizzle a mixture of scrambled eggs and cheese right at the end to create ribbons, similar to an egg drop soup. My family is decidedly against this concept but it would add another layer of texture and complexity to your soup.

Soup, kale, meatballs
Yield: 8 servings
Author: She's Almost Always Hungry
Mini Meatball and Kale Soup

Mini Meatball and Kale Soup

A comforting soup full of vegetables and mini meatballs
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 45 Min


For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound mixed ground meats (beef, pork, veal)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup plain dry breadcrumbs or Panko
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
For the soup:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large bunch kale, coarsely chopped (about 8-10 cups)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


To make the meatballs:
  1. Combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Do not overwork the mixture.
  2. Form small meatballs (should make about 25).
  3. Set aside.
To make the soup:
  1. In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté 5-6 minutes until onions are translucent but not browned.
  2. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the meatballs and kale. Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust for seasoning as needed.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.


If desired, you can add 1 cup of small dried pasta, like acini di pepe or ditalini, when you add the meatballs.

Make a double batch of meatballs. Place half on a parchment-lined sheet and freeze. Once solid, place the meatballs into a zip-top bag for use at a later date. When ready to use, do not defrost the meatballs, place into boiling broth frozen without the kale. Return broth to boiling, add kale, and cook for 10 minutes.

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Nutritional information calculated using The Recipes Generator

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