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When you need a bit of comfort food, this Italian classic recipe is just what the doctor ordered.  Rich chicken broth, meatballs, shredded chicken, and Parmesan cheese make for a satisfying and nourishing soup.



For the broth:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 cups No sodium chicken broth

12 cups water

3 or 4 extra-large chicken bouillon cubes (I like Knorr’s low sodium)

1 large onion, skin on, quartered

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

4 sprigs fresh sage

4 sprigs fresh thyme

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon black peppercorns.

For the meatballs:

1 small onion, grated

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

1 extra-large egg, beaten

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 slice white bread, torn into small pieces

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ pound lean ground beef

½ pound ground pork

1 link Italian sausage, casing removed

For the Soup:

1 cup acini di pepe

10 cups reduced chicken broth

2 cups dry white wine

1 pound baby spinach, chopped roughly

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Poach the chicken.  In a large stockpot, add the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken breasts and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Pour in the chicken broth, water, bouillon cubes, onions, celery, carrots, sage, thyme, rosemary, and black peppercorns.  

Bring the pot up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and poach the chicken breasts for 15 – 20 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Increase the heat under the stockpot to high and boil the liquid until it reduces by almost half.

In a large, fine mesh strainer, strain the reduced broth and discard the vegetables and peppercorns.

Measure the amount of liquid.  You should have at least 10 cups of chicken broth.  If not, add enough water to equal 10 cups.

Pour the broth back into the stockpot.  Next, add the wine and place the pot over medium heat.  Bring to a low boil and allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes to evaporate the alcohol in the wine.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs.  In a large bowl, stir together the onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, bread, Parmesan cheese, beef,  pork, and Italian sausage together until well combined.

Using a small cookie scoop (about 1 ½ teaspoons) shape the meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs.  Place on a baking sheet and chill until ready to use.

In a saucepan, boil water.  When the water is at a full rolling boil, add the acini di pepe pasta and cook as per the package directions – about 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, add the meatballs in a single layer.  Don’t crowd the pan, and work in batches if necessary. Brown the meatballs on all layers.  Remove to a plate and continue with the rest of the meatballs. When all meatballs are browned, pour in ½ cup of the reserved chicken stock and scrape up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Add this flavor to the pot of chicken stock.

Make the soup.  Bring the reduced stock and the white wine up to a slow simmer, almost boil over medium-high heat.  Add the chilled meatballs and simmer until almost done – about 10 minutes.

Toss in the chopped fresh spinach and cook for about 20 minutes until wilted.  Stir in the cooked pasta and grated parmesan cheese.  

At this time, stir in the shredded chicken.  Allow the mixture to fully warm and take on the flavors of the stock – about 15 minutes.  

Taste and season the soup, and if necessary with salt and pepper.

Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with shavings of Parmesan.


This Italian classic recipe will become a family favorite.  This hearty soup has a rich chicken broth full of tiny pasta, meatballs, shredded chicken, and Parmesan cheese is so satisfying.

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Category: Starters - Soups
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: soups, Classic Italian recipes, wedding soup, chicken soup, comfort food