This turkey meatball soup is light yet satisfying. In addition to the ground turkey meatballs, this soup is loaded with vegetables, orzo, tomatoes, spices and greens. It’s an easy to make, flavorful soup the whole family will enjoy.
The ingredients used for this soup are affordable and common pantry items. The turkey meatballs are flavored with onions, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese. They’re easy to put together and only take about 20 minutes to bake. This soup takes less than an hour to prep and make so it’s perfect for busy weeknights.
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- Ground Turkey – Use a lean turkey. We use 85/15, which means it’s 85 percent lean and 15 percent fat content. You can use leaner if you wish (like 93/7 which is 93 percent lean and 7 percent fat). However, do not use turkey breast. We need some fat for flavor and moisture. Turkey breast will not supply us with either.
- Breadcrumbs – panko or plain breadcrumbs work
- Egg – to make meatballs we need a binder, the egg ensures that the meat, breadcrumbs and flavorings stick together.
- Flavor – ground turkey can be a little bland, Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper will add plenty of flavor.
- Oil – needed to sauté the vegetables to create a flavor base for the soup. We use olive oil but you can use your favorite.
- Vegetables – canned fire roasted tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery and garlic kick the up the flavor of this soup and add bursts of color.
- Spices – we keep it really simple with dried oregano, maybe a little salt at the end if needed.
- Broth – chicken broth works well in this soup, we use pre-packaged for convenience.
- Pasta – we use orzo but any other tiny pasta will work too (stelline, ditalini, alphabet pasta, etc.).
- Greens – this soup includes fresh spinach but if you have kale or chard on hand you can substitute that instead.
Make the meatballs
Add the ground turkey, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper and the egg to a large bowl.
Use a fork (or your hands) to combine the ground turkey mixture. Do not overwork the meat, mix just enough to incorporate the ingredients.
Cook’s note: Ground turkey tends to be a little sticky to work with. Refrigerating the mixture for a while before forming the meatballs helps. Also, rubbing a little oil on your hands will make forming them easier.
Form the ground turkey mixture into small balls about 1-1½ inch in diameter (think a little smaller than a golf ball). We use a small scooper to help portion and form the meatballs.
Arrange them on the sheet pan leaving some space between them so they’re not touching. You should get about 22-24 small meatballs.
Bake the meatballs
Bake the meatballs for 18-20 minutes or until they are fully cooked. The internal temperature should register at least 165°F. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure. The meatballs are not going to cook for very long in the soup so we want them fully cooked when we add them in.
If we time this soup just right, it will be almost done when the meatballs are ready. Then, it’s only 10-15 minutes to a delicious, warming soup!
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but nowhere near smoking, add the onions, carrots and celery.
- Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and start to soften. Stir frequently so the onions do not burn.
- Next, add the minced garlic and oregano, cook 1 minute while stirring.
- Add the diced tomatoes.
- Add the chicken broth while gently scrapping any bits off the bottom of the pot.
- Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil (it will take about 4-5 minutes to come to a boil). When it starts to boil, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes to let the flavors come together and get that homemade taste. Keep it at a simmer.
- Next, add the orzo to the soup, cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes (still on medium-low). Stir it occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Carefully add the meatballs to the pot. I like to use tongs to set them in the pot and avoid splashing hot liquid.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium to medium-low (keep the liquid at a simmer) and cook, covered, another 5 minutes or so until the orzo is al dente. Stir the soup occasionally, to keep the orzo from sticking to the bottom.
- Finally, add the spinach to the pot and stir as you add it in. Continue cooking the soup for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.
Taste the turkey meatball soup and add salt if needed. We want to hold off until the end to add extra salt to this soup because the chicken broth and canned tomatoes both contain a good amount already. As a reference we added ½ teaspoon to ours.
Storing and reheating
- Store the soup in an airtight container(s) in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. It may be necessary to add extra chicken broth when reheating. Add 2-3 tablespoons at a time until the soup reaches the desired consistency. Keep in mind that it will loosen as it heats up.
- We do not recommend freezing the soup because it contains pasta. If you do want to freeze it, leave out the orzo when cooking the soup. Make it on the side and add it to individual servings that will be consumed. Then freeze the remaining soup in an airtight container(s) for up to 3 to 4 months. Remember to leave an inch or two of space in the container to allow for expansion.
- Reheat the soup in a saucepan or microwave. Make sure it reaches a temperature of at least 165°F.
Turkey Meatball Soup
Turkey Meatballs Ingredients
- 1 pound Ground Turkey
- ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
- 1 tablespoon Parsley finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Minced Onion
- 1 Garlic Clove minced
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 Egg
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion finely diced
- 1 Carrot diced
- 1 Celery Rib diced
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 (14½ ounce) can Diced Tomatoes (we used fire roasted diced tomatoes)
- 6 cups Chicken Broth
- ⅔ cup Orzo or other tiny pasta
- 5-6 ounces Fresh Spinach
- Salt if needed at the end
- You will also need: Cooking spray or parchment paper, baking sheet
- Preheat 350°F
Form the Meatballs
- Add the ground turkey, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, minced onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and the egg to a large bowl.
- Use a fork (or your hands) to combine the ground turkey mixture. Do not overwork the meat, mix just enough to incorporate the ingredients.
- Form the ground turkey mixture into balls that are roughly 1 – 1½ inch in diameter.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with cooking spray. Place the meatballs on the pan leaving some space between them so they’re not touching. You should get about 22 – 24 meatballs.
Bake the meatballs
- Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until fully cooked (internal temperature of 165°F).
Start the soup while the meatballs are in the oven
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic and oregano, cook 1 minute while stirring.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes and the chicken broth, while gently scrapping any bits off the bottom of the pot. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil (it will take about 4-5 minutes).
- Once the broth is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Keep the soup at a simmer, raise or lower the heat as needed.
- Add the orzo to the soup, cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes (still on medium-low). Stir occasionally to keep the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Carefully add the meatballs to the pot. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium to medium-low (keep the liquid at a simmer) and cook, covered, another 5 minutes or so until the orzo is al dente. Stir the soup occasionally, to keep the orzo from sticking to the bottom.
- Add the spinach to the pot and stir as you add it in. Continue cooking the soup for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.
- Taste and add salt if needed. As a reference we added ½ teaspoon to ours.