Turkey Italian Wedding Soup

Classic Italian soup is a favorite throughout the U.S. Contrary to the popular belief that it is a soup meant for weddings, the dish actually got its name from the Italian phrase si sposono bene, meaning that two things are well married. And indeed, the unique marriage of flavors is sure to have your taste buds celebrating.

Fresh greens make an unexpected appearance in this hearty soup. Dark leafy green spinach supplies vitamins A, C and K, plus the B-vitamin folate, which has been linked to reduced risk of some cancers. Escarole, a less common leafy green and a cousin of red-leafed radicchio, is also featured. Substitute kale if needed.

Although extremely satisfying, this week’s soup is much leaner than traditional recipes. Combining ground turkey breast with lean ground beef ensures that the meatballs stay moist, while eliminating excess fat. The substitution also helps you help your family reduce their red meat intake; experts note an increased risk for colorectal cancer when red meat is eaten in excess of 18 ounces per week.

You’ll find these meatballs extremely flavorful thanks to a combination of breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, onion and garlic. But be cautious not to over mix when forming the balls, as this can result in loss of tenderness. Although you can certainly purchase ground turkey, Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to grind your own from leftovers.

Turkey Italian Wedding Soup

– Makes 14 servings


  • 1/2 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 pound 93% lean ground sirloin
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, dried
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 cups low fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb. whole-wheat pasta (miniature shells work best)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 4 cups fresh escarole, chopped


Combine meat, egg, 1/2 cup of cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well with your hands. Do not over mix. Form small meatballs, no larger than 1 inch in diameter.

Bring broth to boil in a large pot then reduce to a simmer. Add the meatballs to the broth and cook until they are almost done, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the meatballs. Test them by removing one from the pot and cutting it open. Use a large spoon to scoop off any foam.

Add the pasta to the pot. Cook until pasta is tender, about 6 minutes. Add spinach and escarole and cover for about 2 to 3 minutes until greens are wilted. Ladle into serving bowls and top each with a sprinkling of remaining cheese.

Per serving: 210 calories, 4 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 28 g carbohydrate, 16 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 530 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. www.aicr.org.

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