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A perfect weeknight dinner! This Italian Meatball Soup recipe is full of tender, plump tortellini, mini meatballs and flavorful Parmesan cheese in a zesty tomato broth. Just add a side of garlic bread for a simple and cozy meal that comes together in about 30 minutes!

Side shot of two bowls of tortellini and meatball soup on a table

Mini Meatball Soup

You can’t beat a cozy, comforting meal on a chilly evening, and this quick and easy mini meatball soup is definitely a family favorite. It’s rich, hearty and full of Italian flavor. Best of all, there are a few simple shortcuts (like refrigerated cheese tortellini and frozen mini meatballs) that help get this dinner on the table in about 30 minutes, with almost no prep work!

While I’m calling this a meatball tortellini soup, I’d actually say that it’s more like a meatball stew. It’s thick, satisfying, and full of pasta and meatballs (without much broth). The sauce tastes rich and homemade, as though it’s been simmering on the stovetop all day in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. When you serve the bowls and grate some fresh Parmesan over the top, nobody needs to know that that this dinner was an afterthought at the end of an otherwise very busy day!

Close up side shot of a ladle in a pot of Italian mini Meatball Soup

Ingredients

Here’s a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make a shortcut frozen meatball soup. As always, the full set of measurements and the specific instructions are included in the recipe box at the bottom of this post.

  • Olive oil: for sautéing the garlic and onion.
  • Onion and garlic: add flavor to the soup.
  • Petite diced tomatoes: make sure to pick up the big 28-ounce can.
  • Tomato sauce: the larger 15-ounce size is what you’ll need here.
  • Italian seasoning: a blend of classic Italian herbs such as thyme, basil and oregano.
  • Beef broth: use 4 cups for a thick stew-like consistency, or add more to thin the soup to your desired taste.
  • Frozen Italian mini meatballs: fully-cooked, frozen, thawed meatballs are a great shortcut that you can toss directly into the soup. I like the mini size, which are easy to scoop up with a spoon. You can substitute with larger meatballs, or you can make your own mini meatballs from scratch with this recipe.
  • Fresh cheese tortellini: make sure to use refrigerated fresh tortellini, which cooks quickly in about 5-7 minutes. If you need to sub with dry tortellini or frozen tortellini, just adjust the simmering time according to the package instructions. You may need to add more broth when using dry tortellini, since the dry pasta will absorb a little bit more liquid.
  • Parmesan cheese: I prefer to use a block of Parmesan that I grate by hand, since this melts smoother into the soup. In a pinch, a can of the pre-grated cheese will also work!
  • Salt and pepper: just enough to suit your taste.
  • Fresh basil or parsley: a bright garnish that adds a nice, fresh touch to the hearty soup.
Process shot showing how to make Italian meatball soup

How to Make Easy Meatball Soup

Thanks to frozen meatballs and quick-cooking refrigerated tortellini, this soup comes together in about 30 minutes!

  1. Soften onion and garlic in olive oil
  2. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, beef broth and thawed meatballs.
  3. Boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add the tortellini and cook just until the pasta is tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese, then taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  6. Ladle into bowls, garnish with fresh herbs and extra cheese, then serve!
Overhead horizontal shot of a pot of mini meatball soup

What to Serve with Italian Meatball Soup

Garnish the bowls of soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or fresh herbs. Serve with a side of crusty baguetteno-knead bread, or garlic bread. A bowl of soup is also delicious with a crisp green salad dressed in Italian Balsamic Vinaigrette or a homemade Caesar salad.

Overhead shot of two bowls of tortellini and meatball soup with a side of bread

Make Ahead Meatball Tortellini Soup

To prepare this soup in advance, follow the recipe instructions through Step 2, simmering the meatballs in the broth for 20 minutes. Do not add the tortellini or Parmesan. Allow the soup to cool to room temperature, pack in airtight containers, and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, bring the soup to a simmer on the stovetop. Add the tortellini and cook just until tender. Stir in the Parmesan and serve!

Close overhead shot of easy meatball soup recipe in a Dutch oven

Storage

Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months; however, cooked pasta never keeps very well in soup for a long period of time (since it swells and becomes sticky or mushy). If you’re prepping in advance, follow the make-ahead instructions above and wait to add the tortellini until you’re ready to serve.

Side shot of two bowls of meatball soup

Tips for the Best Meatball Soup Recipe

  • This soup has a very thick consistency — almost like a stew. Feel free to stir in extra broth at the end to thin the soup, if desired.
  • If you prefer made-from-scratch mini meatballs in your soup, follow these recipe instructions. You can use ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork, ground turkey or ground sausage to make the meatballs.
  • Frozen Italian mini meatballs work best in this soup, since the smaller meatballs are a nice size for scooping up with a spoon.
  • I prefer the quick-cooking, fresh taste of refrigerated cheese tortellini. If you would like to substitute with dry tortellini or frozen tortellini, just adjust the cooking time according to the package instructions on your specific product. You may also need to add more broth to the pot, since dry pasta tends to absorb more liquid than fresh pasta while it cooks.
  • Cooking Just for Two? Prepare a smaller batch of soup by cutting all of the ingredients in half. For instance, use a 15-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, a 2-cup can of broth, fewer meatballs, and a small package of tortellini (rather than the 20-ounce “Family Size” called for in the full recipe).
Overhead shot of a spoon in a bowl of meatball soup with cheese tortellini

More Soup Recipes to Try

Side shot of two bowls of tortellini and meatball soup on a table

Meatball Soup with Cheese Tortellini

5 from 16 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings 9 cups
Calories 448 kcal
A perfect weeknight dinner! This Italian Meatball Soup recipe is full of tender, plump tortellini, mini meatballs and flavorful Parmesan cheese in a zesty tomato broth.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups beef broth (or more to thin the soup if desired)
  • 1 (20 oz) package frozen Italian mini meatballs, thawed
  • 20 ounces fresh refrigerated cheese tortellini pasta
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, beef broth, and meatballs. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer (uncovered) for 20 minutes.
  • Add tortellini and cook just until tender, about 5-7 more minutes.
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Serve soup immediately, and garnish with additional cheese and fresh herbs.

Notes

  • This soup has a very thick consistency — almost like a stew. Feel free to stir in extra broth at the end to thin the soup, if desired.
  • If you prefer made-from-scratch mini meatballs in your soup, follow these recipe instructions. You can use ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork, ground turkey or ground sausage to make the meatballs.
  • Frozen Italian mini meatballs work best in this soup, since the meatballs are a nice size for scooping up with a spoon.
  • I prefer the quick-cooking, fresh taste of refrigerated cheese tortellini. If you would like to substitute with dry tortellini or frozen tortellini, just adjust the cooking time according to the package instructions on your specific product. You may also need to add more broth to the pot, since dry pasta tends to absorb more liquid than fresh pasta while it cooks.
  • Cooking Just for Two? Prepare a smaller batch of soup by cutting all of the ingredients in half. For instance, use a 15-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, a 2-cup can of broth, fewer meatballs, and a small package of tortellini (rather than the 20-ounce “Family Size” called for in the full recipe).

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 448kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 26gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 1155mgPotassium: 685mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 452IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 215mgIron: 4mg
Keyword: italian meatball soup, Meatball Soup, Tortellini Soup
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in February, 2017. It was updated in January, 2021.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Just 2 minutes of prep?! Sign me up! I know what you mean about planning dinners in advance. Sometimes, I have lots of ideas, other times, zero. It’s nice to turn to tried and true favorites like this! Love the meatball and tortellini combo, Blair!

  2. 5 stars
    Your photos are mouth-watering, Blair! This is such a great meal for those busy nights and would be fun for the big game this weekend too.
    Happy Friday!

      1. Hi, Wendi! Yes, I think it would probably work. I would put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker EXCEPT for the tortellini and Parmesan cheese. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours, or until the vegetables are tender and the meatballs are heated through. During the final few minutes, add the tortellini and Parmesan and continue cooking until the pasta is tender. I don’t know exactly how long the tortellini will require in the Crock Pot, so I would try 15-20 minutes, but keep an eye on it because it might be done in as little as 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    January and February are the worst months. And yes, there’s a hot cocoa and cozy sweaters BUT honestly I can’t wait for some sun to shine and temperatures to rise above 10C 🙂 But as long as we have comforting soups, to warm us up, like this deliciousness, then we are good, right 😉 Lovely soup Blair. Really mouth-watering. Sharing off course 😉 Have a lovely weekend dear!

  4. This is a great recipe. Simple, yet filling. My son, who doesn’t cook much, wanted the recipe. The whole family loves it. Having it again tonight!

  5. 5 stars
    Really good! I added some fresh spinach and fresh basil right in the soup as it simmered and it was delicious. This recipe is a keeper for busy nights.

  6. 5 stars
    This one just got added to the list for this week! Best thing about this soup is we almost always have all those ingredients on hand!

  7. I added some extra vegetables to make it a bit more nutritionally complete: sautéed zucchini with the onions, and broccoli and a bit of kale toward the end that I had languishing in the fridge. It was delicious and simple.

  8. 5 stars
    Amazing and easy. I was also able to make some easy tweaks so it was more WW friendly. Thanks for a recipe I will make often!

  9. 5 stars
    This looks delicious, cannot wait to try it. Where do you find mini meatballs? Such a great time saver!!

  10. Could you suggest a substitution for the beef broth to accommodate the vegetarians in our family? Would vegetable broth create the same thickness in the soup? Thank you!

  11. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe. Family loved it. Now if I can teach my children the difference of Artisian bread and Crusty bread. Ghis is so good though!

  12. I made this last night, and the whole family loved it!! The only change I made was to make my own meatballs. I would have used frozen ones, but I couldn’t find miniature ones and I wanted them to be small, so I made my own. I am keeping this one and adding it to the regular rotation!

  13. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe – so easy and flavorful. We like a little zest so the only real enhancement I made was I added 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes. The WOW of this recipe will make it a permanent part of our recipe rotation.