Italian Wedding Soup made vegan isn’t much of a stretch. Just swap in plant-based meatballs and this vegetable-rich soup is easily transformed. Don’t be daunted by the ingredient list; everything just gets tossed into the soup pot. And because overcooked veggies aren’t appealing, the cook time for this soup is surprisingly quick.
The notion that this classic soup is traditionally served at Italian weddings is a myth. “Italian wedding soup” is a mistranslation of minestra maritata, or “married soup,” referring to the marriage of the meat (most often meatballs; sometimes sausage) and the greens in the soup.
Some major vegan meatball brands, or DIY: Look for these at your supermarket, natural foods store, or online retailer: Aldi’s; Beyond; Esti’s; Gardein; Lightlife; Morningstar; Pure Farmland; Trader Joe’s; and others. If you prefer DIY, consider making your own Tempeh Meatless Meatballs.
Pasta variation: Sometimes this soup calls for pasta. If you’d like to stretch the number of servings, add 6 to 8 ounces of cooked pasta. Choose a small shape like shells or ditalini, cook separately, and add to the soup when adding the spinach and parsley. You’ll have to adjust the amount of water as well as the seasonings, especially if you have leftovers that have been refrigerated.
Recipe adapted from Plant-Powered Protein: 125 Recipes for Using Today’s Amazing Meat Alternatives © 2020 by Nava Atlas. Reprinted by permission. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 12- to 16-ounce package plant-based meatballs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced, or 1 cup chopped baby carrots
- 32-ounce carton vegetable broth or 4 cups water with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (try Italian-style or fire-roasted)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 15-ounce can cannellini (large white) beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 to 3 big handfuls of greens (whole baby spinach or arugula leaves; chopped kale, chard, or escarole)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Dried hot red pepper flakes
- Vegan Parmesan or mozzarella shreds for topping
- Prepare the vegan meatballs according to package directions, then set aside, covered, until needed.
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots, and continue to sauté until all are golden and soft, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a slow boil, then add the zucchini and beans. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until the zucchini is tender but not overdone.
- Stir in the greens and cook until just tender — a minute or so for the spinach or arugula, and just a bit longer for the sturdier greens. Stir in the parsley.
- If the soup is too crowded, add a bit more water, then season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let stand off the heat for a half hour or so to develop flavor. Otherwise, serve at once.
- To serve, ladle out the soup, then divide the meatballs among individual portions. Pass around dried hot red pepper flakes for those who’d like more heat, as well as vegan Parmesan or mozzarella shreds for topping the soup.
Variation: Sometimes this soup calls for pasta. If you’d like to stretch the number of servings, add 6 to 8 ounces of cooked pasta. Choose a small shape like shells or ditalini, cook separately, and add to the soup when adding the spinach and parsley. You’ll have to adjust the amount of water as well as the seasonings, especially if you have leftovers that have been refrigerated.
If you like vegan meatballs, you might also enjoy …
Here are more vegan soups & stews.