Meatball Soup with Orzo

Albeit a slightly warmer weather than is typical in Wisconsin, soup season is still in full force at our house. Our latest delight is this hearty, healthy and absolutely delicious meatball soup with pasta. I’ve had the recipe saved on my computer for a couple of years now – so long I can’t remember where I originally found it online, although I have a note that it was first published in Canadian Living.

I added my own variations, including using a favorite meatball recipe instead of the one listed in the recipe and we were all incredibly pleased with the comforting warmth and flavor of this soup. A simple tomato base makes up the body of the soup – enhanced with garlic, onions and other every day herbs and spices. It gets a burst of freshness from the frozen peas stirred in right at the end and the little nubbins of tender orzo make this super kid-friendly.

Not only was the soup perfect for dinner but the leftovers were absolutely dreamy!

Meatball Soup with Orzo

What To ServeThis meal has a lot of components already wrapped up inside so I keep it simple with…
Fresh fruit with Honey Yogurt Dip
Steamed broccoli or other vegetable (even with peas in the soup, you can never offer too many veggies to kids, in my opinion)
A great dinner roll like these Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

One Year Ago: Tuscan Garlic Chicken
Two Years Ago: BBQ Chicken Braid
Three Years Ago: Skillet Chicken Pasta with Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Meatball Soup with Pasta

Yield: Serves 4-6

Meatball Soup with Pasta

Note: For a boost of flavor and spice, add a pinch of dried red pepper flakes to the soup! You may end up with extra meatballs (which is why I didn't stir them all into the soup and instead, served them individually in each bowl of soup). Simply freeze the leftover meatballs to be used another time (perfect in these meatball subs or a remake of this soup).


    For the meatballs:
  • 1 cup panko crumbs or regular bread crumbs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey, chicken or beef
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • For the soup:
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce can) diced tomatoes (use fire-roasted diced tomatoes for a boost of flavor)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. For the meatballs, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the panko and buttermilk. Let the mixture sit for five minutes. Add in the ground meat and all the other ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  3. Form 1-inch or slightly larger-sized meatballs and place them about 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the meatballs for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside (if there is an excess of grease on the baking tray, remove the meatballs to a paper-towel lined plate).
  4. To make the soup, while the meatballs bake, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste until well combined. Add the diced tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  5. Add the orzo pasta and brown sugar, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender but not mushy and soft. Stir in the peas and meatballs (see note above the recipe!) and cook until just heated through. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Alternately, you can add the meatballs to individual bowls of soup if you don't want to stir them into the soup with the peas.

Recipe Source: adapted from Canadian Living found online via a blog years ago (I forgot exactly where!)

28 Responses to Meatball Soup with Pasta

  1. Sheila says:

    I’m looking for a good spaghetti and meatball recipe. Would these meatballs be good with spaghetti?

  2. heather bell says:

    I am making this tonight!! We have all the stuff and it is -30 outside. Biscuits and salad, can’t wait!

  3. Kensi says:

    This was delicious! And perfect for the cold weather!! Even with the tomatoes the kids had seconds! Thanks Mel!

  4. […] Meatballs from Tracey’s Culinary Adentures Chicken Meatball Stroganoff from One Lovely Life Meatball Soup with Pasta from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Saucy Onion Meatball Dip Subs from Taste and […]

  5. Ava says:

    Good. The only thing is the time/temp for the meatballs was way too much for my oven.
    I took them out after 22 minutes and they were pretty burnt!

  6. Brett A says:

    This recipe was amazing… Before I added the Orzo, I cooked the soup for another 60 minutes. I really like when soups are well blended and have complex flavors that only comes from cooking on low heat (simmer) for a long time.

    I also sub’d in Rosina frozen meatballs – mostly because anytime I make meatballs they fall apart in the soup. In any case, the soup was amazing. Its definitely going on the list to make again.

  7. Kesa says:

    This soup is our family’s new favorite…it is perfection, especially when it is a little cooler outside. Thank you so much for sharing this! Quick question, do you think this would freeze well? Yes, I love it that much that I want my freezer stocked full with it (:

    Thanks again Mel!

  8. mary says:

    Found it to thick so more broth. Too sweet so added approx. 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp red pepper flakes

  9. Mel says:

    Denise – great question and sorry for leaving it out! I stir it in with the orzo pasta. I’ve edited the recipe. Thanks!

  10. Denise Kurth says:


    You are the best. Your recipes are being circulated through the entire office!

    Re: Meatball soup- May be a silly question? When do I add the brown sugar?

  11. Sindy says:

    I love anything with Orzo. It’s one of my favorite pastas. I’ll add this to my recipe collection.

  12. grace says:

    the meatballs are grand, but can i tell you my favorite ingredient here? the peas! 🙂

  13. Mmmm! I love a good soup! This one looks great! Even though it will reach nearly 90 degrees here this week! eek!

  14. Mel says:

    Laura – I’m sure quinoa would work just fine. It will have a tendency to soak up excess liquid so I would do as you suggested and cook it separately, stirring it in at the end.

  15. brookeO says:

    I love [and miss] Wisconsin, and I love soup! This is a great addition to my winter soup collection.

  16. amy says:

    This is yum. Rught now i am making your black bean and mango quinoa salad. Been craving it. I think i have had quinoa daily for 2 weeks. This soup my husband will like.

  17. laura h. says:

    So, I was wondering. Do you think this could be adapted to add quinoa in place of the orzo? I’m looking for a way to try out quinoa for the first time but in something besides a “salad”. I’m thinking I could cook it separately in a rice cooker and add it at the end to heat through with the peas. Anyone with quinoa experience think it would work?

  18. What a delicious, hearty looking soup for the last of the chilly days. This is wonderful, Mel. Thanks for sharing!

  19. StephenC says:

    I am reminded of Italian “Wedding” Soup, which is not at all about going to the altar, but rather the wedding of multiple ingredients, some of which form meatballs. I love that you did this.

  20. Jenn says:

    OH my goodness this looks delicious! I have to make this soon, it looks awesome! I love homemade meatballs but sadly never make them because they are so much work! LOL 😉 I make sweet and sour meatballs from scratch (sauce and all) and it’s YUMMY but soooooo much work! Must try and make it soon. But this, I have to try first!

  21. Teresa says:

    I can’t wait to try. My mom was Italian and I grew up on a version of meatball soup. Mom called it meatball stew. The soup was made about the same but mom’s was chock full of fresh green beans and diced potatoes, no pasta or peas. Always had with crusty Italian bread. My kids love it, I make it in the summer too with fresh green beans from the garden.

  22. Jennifer says:

    Sadly, Boston is not getting that warm weather we were teased with a few weeks ago. Hello mini blizzard! I could definitely go for this soup right now.

  23. Totally craving meatballs now!

  24. I think I could eat this soup on a hot summer day it sounds so good:-) This sounds delicious and I love that you finished it with the peas – Yum!

  25. Kim in MD says:

    It’s been such a warm winter for us here in Maryland, too, and I haven’t made soup as much as usually do this time of year. This soup looks and sounds so delicious. I think this is going to be dinner tonight!

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