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Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup – Easy Kid Friendly Dinner!

Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup is the perfect family weeknight dinner. This hearty and healthy meal comes together in just 30 minutes!

a pot of turkey meatball orzo soup with bread, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese around the bowls

Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup Recipe

From a young age I have always loved cooking. When I was 15 years old I hosted by first dinner party for 5 of my school friends. On the menu as a starter was this turkey meatball orzo soup and now over 13 years later I am thrilled to be sharing this recipe on my food blog with all of you.

This recipe has been a household staple and family favorite for many years and my friends were very impressed with it too! It is one of those comforting, easy, homemade meals that warms the soul.

2 bowls of turkey meatball orzo soup with bread, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese around the bowls

Turkey meatball orzo soup is a healthier take on the classic Italian wedding soup. The largest different is the meatballs are made with turkey instead of beef and orzo pasta is used instead of acini de pepe. Orzo is a rice shaped pasta, whereas acini de pepe are tiny round balls.

Ground turkey is lean with very little fat. To ensure that the meat stays tender and moist, a combination of breadcrumbs and eggs are mixed with the meat. It creates a paste that keeps the meatballs incredibly moist while cooking.

This is a quick and easy hearty soup for any night of the week.  You can even cook and freeze the meatballs beforehand to cut down on prep time, or use store bought meatballs! The whole recipe comes together in 30 minutes, but still tastes rich and full of flavor, thanks to the heartiness of the vegetables and tender meatballs. You can create an even heartier soup but adding in other vegetables as noted below.

What is in Turkey Meatball Soup?

ingredients to make turkey meatball orzo soup in bowls, ground turkey, egg, orzo pasta, breadcrumbs, chicken broth, carrot, parsley, onion, spices, garlic, parmesan

Turkey Meatballs Ingredients

  • Ground Turkey – is a healthier alternative to ground beef and I can honestly say that you cannot taste the difference in this recipe! The meatballs are baked and then added into the soup. They get tenderized after cooking in the soup and melt in your mouth.
  • Italian Breadcrumbs and Egg – are the secret ingredients to tender and moist meatballs. When mixed together they become a paste which then coats the protein in the meatballs, leaving them with a light, tender and moist interior.
    • Note: store bought Italian seasoned breadcrumbs or plain, or homemade all work great in this recipe.
  • Garlic, Oregano, Basil, Chili Flakes, Parsley, Salt, Pepper – are the herbs and spices that add additional flavor along side the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs to the meatballs.
  • Parmesan Cheese – adds a cheesy saltiness to the meatballs. I prefer cooking with fresh grated parmesan cheese but any variety works great in meatballs.
mini turkey meatballs baked on a tray with parmesan and parsley

Soup Ingredients

  • Chicken Broth – the base of the soup is chicken broth but you can sub for vegetable broth if that is all you have on hand.
  • Onion, Garlic, Carrot – this soup is not overly loaded with veggies. I like it simple with just carrot and onion but you can add any combination of your favorite veggies to sneak some extra veggies into your diet.
  • Orzo Pasta – the turkey meatballs and orzo are the stars of this soup. Orzo is a fun rice shaped pasta. It is not only cute but it is a great soup pasta as they are tiny but mighty and make this a substantial soup that can be a starter, side or main dish!
2 bowls of turkey meatball orzo soup and one has a spoon in it

How to Make Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup

Full Printable Recipe at Bottom of Page

mixing ground turkey with herbs, spices, cheese, egg and breadcrumbs to make mini meatballs for soup

Prepare the Meatballs

1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with edges with parchment paper, foil, or grease the pan.

2 In a large bowl, add in all of the meatball ingredients. Gently mix until just evenly combined. Do not over mix or the meatballs will be tough.

3 Measure ½ tablespoon of the turkey and gently roll into small meatballs. Place each meatball on the prepared baking sheet spaced apart. The meatballs will shrink slightly while cooking so they can be fairly close together. Repeat with remaining meat until all meatballs are shaped.

4 Bake the meatballs until cooked through and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside while you prepare the soup.

making turkey meatball orzo soup in a large soup pot

Prepare the Soup

1 In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic, onion, carrots and ½ tsp of salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened slightly, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Add in the chicken broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium high and add in the orzo and cooked meatballs.

3 Cook for 7 minutes or according to orzo pasta package instructions. Turn off heat once the pasta is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Optional: Add fresh spinach and stir into the soup until wilted, about 1 minute.

4 Serve soup topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese, fresh chopped parsley and crusty bread to dip. Enjoy!

2 bowls of turkey meatball orzo soup with bread, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese around the bowls

Popular Orzo Soup Add Ins

  • Meatballs – instead of turkey meatballs use store bought Italian beef meatballs.
  • Sausage – before sautéing the onions, garlic and carrots for the soup base, remove casing from store bought sausage and break up into bite sized pieces. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until just cooked through then add in the veggies and proceed with cooking the soup.
  • Vegetables – sneak some extra veggies into the soup such as mushrooms, celery, broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, or any other veggies you have on hand.
  • Vegetarian Options – instead of meatballs or sausage swap out the meat for red kidney beans, lentils, white beans or cannellini beans! Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
    • Vegan Option – follow the above Vegetarian swaps and also omit the parmesan cheese for a vegan soup option.

Storing and Freezing Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup

Cool leftover soup to room temperature before storing in airtight containers. Soup can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or individual servings can be frozen for up to 1 month.

3 Course Family Dinner

Pair this Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup with:

  • Feta Bruschetta with Balsamic Glaze – perfect starter to your family dinner or get together. Super quick, and easy. More importantly–crazy delicious. Bruschetta really is the ultimate appetizer.
  • Chicken Romano – the ultimate elevated chicken cutlets. Seasoned panko breadcrumbs loaded with Romano cheese, herbs and lemon zest. Fried until golden brown and topped with cheese!
  • Tiramisu – a classic Italian dessert, coffee soaked cookies layered with an irresistible creamy filling. It is light yet rich without ever feeling like it is too sweet or heavy. It also happens to be my favorite dessert!

Enjoy!

– Sab

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.

a pot of turkey meatball orzo soup with bread, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese around the bowls

Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup

Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup is the perfect family weeknight dinner. This hearty and healthy meal comes together in just 30 minutes! This soup is a healthier take on the classic Italian wedding soup. A quick and easy hearty soup for any night of the week that the whole family will love. The recipe comes together in 30 minutes, but still tastes rich and full of flavor, thanks to the heartiness of the vegetables and tender meatballs.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6
Calories 263 kcal

Ingredients
  

Meatballs

  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes, red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper, ground

Soup

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots, medium, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, medium, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup baby spinach, long stems removed, optional

Garnish

  • 6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
  • Parsley, fresh, for garnish

Instructions
 

Prepare the Turkey Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with edges with parchment paper, foil, or grease the pan.
  • In a large bowl, add in all of the meatball ingredients. Gently mix until just evenly combined. Do not over mix or the meatballs will be tough.
  • Measure ½ tablespoon of the turkey and gently roll into small meatballs. Place each meatball on the prepared baking sheet spaced apart. The meatballs will shrink slightly while cooking so they can be fairly close together. Repeat with remaining meat until all meatballs are shaped.
  • Bake the meatballs until cooked through and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside while you prepare the soup.

Prepare the Soup

  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic, onion, carrots and ½ tsp of salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened slightly, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the chicken broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium high and add in the orzo and cooked meatballs.
  • Cook for 7 minutes or according to orzo pasta package instructions. Turn off heat once the pasta is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Optional: Add spinach and stir into the soup until wilted, about 1 minute.
  • Serve soup topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese, fresh chopped parsley and crusty bread to dip. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

The Secret to tender Meatballs: the ground turkey stays incredibly tender and moist from the combination of bread crumbs and egg. The proteins get coated in a starchy paste when the egg and bread mixes together. The paste sets into a gel when cooked, it is referred to as a panade which is what helps keep the moist in the meatballs and their shape intact so they won’t crumble or fall apart when added into the soup.
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NUTRITION

Calories: 263kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 27gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 2407mgPotassium: 722mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 5844IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 187mgIron: 3mg
This nutrition information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. See our full nutrition disclosure here.
a pot of turkey meatball orzo soup with bread, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese around the bowls

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Recipe Rating




Ana

Monday 22nd of November 2021

This is simply delicious. I've made the meatballs and have two batches frozen. Thanks!