This soup is the ultimate in comfort food! Similar recipes instruct you to cook the noodles in the soup, but we prefer to cook them ahead, setting them aside to add at serving time. This way, any extra soup doesn’t end up with mushy noodles and extra starch in it. Between the meatballs, spinach, kale and noodles, we consider this a one dish meal and always have fun making it together.

Ingredients for Nonna’s Meatball Soup

For the Meatballs

  • 1.5 C fresh bread crumbs, toasted
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 5 oz. ground beef
  • 5 oz. ground pork
  • 5 oz. ground veal (in a pinch more ground beef or pork can be used in place)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T. fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 t. sea salt

For the soup:

  • 10 C. homemade chicken broth
  • 1 bunch, about 10 oz, kale, chopped
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 C. noodles, cooked al dente, tossed with 1 t. olive oil and set aside



In a bowl combine the bread crumbs and milk and let them sit for about 15 minutes.

While the bread crumbs are soaking, mix the ground meats, egg, cheese, garlic, parsley and salt. Add the soaked bread crumbs and combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Use a 1/2 t. size measuring spoon scoop the meat mixture and then roll into balls. The spoon should be slightly overflowing, but these are tiny meatballs. They swell in the broth, so don’t make them too big. Also, get the family to help! This makes around 200 meatballs and many hands makes light (and more fun) work. It may help to wet your palms with some cold water from time to time as you roll the meatballs.

Power Out!

During a recent holiday visit with my sister we had an unexpected power outage. We ended up having such fun making Nonna’s by candlelight – next time we may just turn out the lights and pretend. (Luckily for us, with a gas stove, this meal could be made during a power outage. No oven required!)


Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Gently add the meatballs and greens to the boiling broth and simmer for about 10 minutes until meatballs are cooked and greens have wilted.

Place about 1/3 – 1/2 C. cooked noodles in each serving bowl and ladle the hot soup over the noodles. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese if desired.

Makes 6 – 8 servings.