This meatball soup with pasta recipe is extra comforting and perfect for a chilly night. Juicy chicken meatballs pair well with an easy-as-anything tomato sauce. The cherry on top? The most fun pasta shape, radiatori!
How to make this meatball soup with pasta recipe:
For this meatball soup with pasta, there are three main components. I use radiatori pasta, a really fun pasta shape. Never had it? I definitely recommend snagging a box of this unique pasta. I used the brand Nicoletto’s Pasta Co. brand for this recipe, but I also love the Antica Pasta di Campofilone, which you can grab at Zia Pia Imports!
Radiatori is a newer pasta shape, estimated to have been created between the world wars. It’s rumored that it was meant to look like a radiator from a Buggati or potentially a heating radiator. This pasta is loaded with rumors.
Regardless, it’s a great pasta shape that’s perfect for soups, salads, and soaking up your favorite tomato sauce. The ridges of the pasta are perfect for holding sauces–both creamy or tomato-based–and radiatori maintains its shape well in soup. If you’ve never had it, you’ll love it.
What you need
- Meatballs: You’ll make a quick batch of chicken meatballs, but feel free to use turkey, beef, pork, or a mix. I make these meatballs with egg, olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, thyme, crushed red pepper, shallot, and a nip of balsamic vinegar for a little something extra special.
- Soup: You need onion, garlic, thyme, and mushrooms for the base of the soup. To make it extra easy, I use store-bought arrabbiata sauce. My favorite brand is Michael’s of Brooklyn, but I doctor it up a little with extra crushed red pepper and a bit of sugar. Use any meat-free tomato sauce you like here, such as marinara or caramelized onion tomato sauce. I also add a handful of spinach at the end.
- Pasta: As I mentioned above, I use radiatori pasta. Try it with farfalle, elbows, or rotini instead if you don’t have radiatori.
How to make it
- Step 1: Start with the meatballs. Mix all the ingredients together and roll into tablespoon-sized balls. Heat up a bit of oil in a soup pot and fry them in batches. Don’t worry about cooking them all the way through; they finish cooking the broth. Take them out of the pot and transfer them to a plate.
- Step 2: Once the meatballs are out of the pot, add the onion and mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. Then, add garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. From there, just add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs right back in and simmer for 30 minutes. You can add a little sugar to the broth if it needs it.
- Step 3: While the soup simmers, boil the pasta and drain it.
- Step 4: Finish it up! Add the spinach and pasta to the soup and simmer briefly.
Once it finishes cooking, ladle the soup into bowls and pile on lots of Parmesan cheese. You won’t regret it.
Hope you enjoy the recipe and happy cooking!
Meatball Soup with Pasta
- Soup pot
- Large pot
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- 32- ounce jar of arrabbiata sauce or use your favorite store-bought or homemade tomato sauce
- 4 cups water or chicken broth
- Pinch of sugar, if needed
- 1½ cups radiatori pasta ,dry; or use farfalle, rotini, or elbows
- 3 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
- Salt and pepper
Make the meatballs:
- Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix with your hands until combined. Roll into tablespoon-sized meatballs. Note: Fry or microwave a small piece and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the meatballs in an even layer, cooking in batches if needed. Fry for 3 minutes per side until golden brown all over. They do not need to be cooked through. Transfer all the meatballs to a plate.
Start the soup:
- To the pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. If you use pork or beef, you may not need the extra oil.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the onion and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 8–10 minutes or until the mushrooms turn golden brown.
- Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.
Simmer the soup:
- Pour in the arrabbiata sauce and the water. Bring to a boil and add the meatballs. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar if you like.
Make the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a big pinch of salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Finish the soup:
- Once the meatballs reach 165ºF, add the spinach and cooked pasta. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat.
- Mix together the Parmesan and black pepper in a bowl.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the Parmesan mixture on the side. Enjoy!