Chicken Meatball Soup is a light and savory broth-based soup full of flavorful kale, carrots, and potatoes. The herby Italian chicken meatballs are the star while they simmer in this one pot meal. Includes step-by-step instructions and easy substitutions.
Thanks to easy make ahead prep options and minimal cleanup, a simmering pot of soup is like a delicious modern life hack. And if you like easy, light yet comforting brothy favorites like Chicken noodle, Italian Sausage Kale Soup and classic French Onion Soup, then you will love this chicken meatball soup recipe!
This Italian Chicken Meatball Soup is surprisingly simple, comforting, healthy, and can be made all in one pot! It’s chock full of flavorful veggies, but the star of the show is the herbed Italian style meatballs. Let’s face it, meatballs make everything better! And these parmesan meatballs are incredible.
The recipe’s delicate broth and chicken parmesan meatballs make this light enough to enjoy year-round, much like my recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. It’s an excellent supper choice for the transitional months between seasons when you’re craving lighter comfort fare.
Ingredients and Notes
Below is an overview of what you will need to make this recipe. There are also some notes on substitutions if you need them.
Chicken Meatball Ingredients
Breadcrumbs: For simplicity’s sake, I use plain breadcrumbs and season them with Italian seasonings to make a consistent flavored and fresh meatball. You can use Italian breadcrumbs and skip the seasonings if you like.
Grated Parmesan: I have actually forgotten the parmesan at least once and the meatballs came out just fine, although the parmesan adds a little extra yumminess to the meatballs. I use pre-made grated parmesan (the stuff in the green can).
Ground Chicken: You can sub ground turkey (yum!) or ground sausage if you prefer. It does need to be ground for the meatballs to properly form.
Seasonings: I used dried spices that are easy to find and control the moisture in the meatballs. Classic combination of oregano, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder make these very flavorful. As noted above, you can use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs if preferred.
Chicken Broth: Use lower sodium to control the salt levels. There is 64 ounces total. If you find it too thick with veggies, add a few cups of water. It won’t change the taste.
Veggies: We start with a classic mirepoix (diced onions, carrots, and celery) for a flavorful base. The potatoes, and kale make it colorful, filling and satisfying. I love hearty kale in my vegetable soups, but you can skip or use spinach or other leafy greens.
Seasonings: The meatballs are the star of the show, so we keep the broth simple and consistent with a little extra garlic and oregano.
How To Make Chicken Meatball Soup
- Use your hands to gently combine the meatball ingredients. Don’t overwork the meatball dough as it can make the meatballs chewier.
- I like to make the meatballs before starting the soup so that it all comes together quickly. The meatballs can be made the day before. The meatballs should be about 1.5 inches in diameter to cook correctly.
- In this healthy chicken vegetable soup recipe, I give you a few ways you can cook the meatballs depending on what works best for you. You can:
- Drop them directly in the soup with the potatoes. This is definitely the easiest method, and it is flavorful.
- Pan fry them just enough to brown several sides and then drop them in the soup with the potatoes. I find this looks more appetizing, and it makes them a little firmer to hold their shape best. I have not had these meatballs ever break apart though in any method.
- Bake them. My husband would much rather all meats were cooked separately (even stir fry!). So I came up with a baking method. This method works best with frozen meatballs and for meal prep or soup made ahead of time so the meatballs don’t become soggy for leftovers.
The soup base is as easy as making a classic Mirepoix. Mirepoix is a mix of aromatic vegetables, finely diced (in this case celery, onion, and carrots) that are cooked in butter or oil to bring out the flavor and sweetness of the vegetables.
Then we cook the potatoes (and meatballs if you like) directly in that rich broth. Wilting the kale is the finishing touch before serving. I also sometimes like to add a fresh sprinkling of parmesan to the soup.
- Overworked meatballs make tough meatballs. Don’t roll them too much.
- Make sure to cut the kale into smaller than bite sized pieces.
- You can use fresh or frozen turkey, pork or chicken meatballs. They all taste good, but each is a different flavor.
- I prefer fresh vegetables, but frozen carrots, celery, and green beans can be used in a pinch.
- You can also add a bite-sized pasta if you like such as orzo, bowtie, or capellini.
- For added flavor, top with 1-2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.
Serving and Storage Suggestions
Store: Store in a well-sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator. Lasts 3-4 days. I generally prefer to store the meatballs separately, so they don’t get too waterlogged, but I have seen it both ways.
Freeze: The meatballs are excellent to freeze. Allow to completely cool before freezing and store in a Ziplock freezer with the air removed.
Make Ahead: This vegetable soup recipe is wonderful for meal prep or leftovers. The best way is to bake the meatballs rather than adding them to the broth. After browning them, toss in the oven at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until they reach 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
More Family Friendly Soup Recipes
You can, but I am not sure how much time it would really save. The cook time is only about 30 minutes, and I would recommend baking the meatballs in the oven. That is the most labor-intensive part.
This recipe makes a wonderful, light meal on its own, but I sometimes serve it with a crusty garlic bread, or one of our generous garden salad recipes.
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Chicken Meatball Soup
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 lb Ground Chicken
- ¼ cup Grated Parmesan
- ⅓ cup Plain Breadcrumbs *See Notes for Italian Breadcrumbs substitute
- 1 Egg
- ½ teaspoon Dried Basil
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Onion Powder
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 8 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Onion diced, about 1 cup
- 2 stalks Celery diced, about 1 cup
- 3 Carrots peeled and sliced, about 1-1.5 cups
- 4-5 Yellow Potatoes peeled, large diced, about 3 cups
- 3 cups Kale stalks removed, torn into bite sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Oregano dried
- In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients for meatballs; set aside.
- Using your hands, form 1.5 inch-sized meatballs, about 2 tablespoons each. Set aside.
- In a large soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots and cook until softened (about 7-8 minutes). Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Add chicken stock, potatoes, and oregano to the pot. Turn heat to medium and bring to a simmer. While the soup is coming up to temp, brown the meatballs.
- In a skillet over medium heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the meatballs and brown on several sides, 2-3 minutes per side. You may have to do this in two batches.
- Toss the meatballs into the pot once it has come to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through (165 degrees on an instant thermometer). Alternatively, you can bake the meatballs on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Baking works best for leftovers so the meatballs don't get waterlogged.
- Stir in kale. Allow 3-5 minutes to wilt. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve warm.