Turkey Meatball Soup with Spinach and Orzo

Turkey meatballs in an easy soup with spinach and orzo. Make the meatballs ahead and freeze for a quick weeknight meal whenever you need one.

Turkey Meatball Soup in a white bowl with a spoon

Simply Recipes / Sheryl Julian

These baby meatballs are so cute you’ll fall hard for them. Use your hands to mix them in a bowl with a little Parmesan and some parsley—you’ll feel like an Italian nonna!

Once shaped, the meatballs go into a soup with orzo and lots of baby spinach. It's an easy, hearty meal that everyone will love.

Turkey Meatballs in a skillet

Simply Recipes / Sheryl Julian

Making Meatballs

Meatballs were traditionally made with scraps of meat, often pork or beef, and stale bread. They were a make-do meal for people who had little.

Today, most of us just buy ground meat at the store whenever a craving strikes. But meatballs are still an economical meal, especially when mixed with whatever sandwich bread or leftover dinner rolls need using up.

Turkey Meatballs cooking in soup

Simply Recipes / Sheryl Julian

An Easy Shortcut

I like to quickly sauté the meatballs to brown their outsides, but you can skip this step if you’re in a hurry. Then, just cook them in chicken broth along with the orzo and spinach. A dusting of grated Parmesan added at the end brings out the flavor of the cheese in the meatballs and adds to the scrumptious tastes in your bowl.

Turkey Meatball Soup with Spinach and Orzo

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6 servings

If you want to skip browning the meatballs, just drop them off a long-handled spoon directly into the simmering stock.

To make the meatballs in advance, set the rolled meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until firm. Then drop the meatballs into a plastic freezer bag. Defrost them overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.


For the meatballs

  • 2 slices white bread or 1 soft dinner roll (about 3 inches across), left out overnight

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole or reduced-fat milk 

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup (32g) grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat or at least 85% lean

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

  • 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 8 cups (2000 ml) chicken stock

  • 1/2 cup (70g) orzo pasta

  • 8 loosely packed cups (5 ounces) baby spinach, with any long stems removed 

  • 1 cup (128g) grated Parmesan, for serving


  1. Make the meatball mixture:

    Shred the bread or roll with your fingers into 1/2-inch pieces. In a bowl, combine the bread or roll, milk, egg, Parmesan, turkey, salt, pepper, and parsley. With clean hands, work the mixture until it is well blended.

  2. Shape the meatballs:

    With wet hands, shape 2 teaspoons of the mixture into a small walnut-sized meatball (1 1/2-inches across). Repeat, making 30 to 34 meatballs total.

    Turkey Meatball Soup
    Sheryl Julian
  3. Brown the meatballs (optional):

    In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When it is hot, add half the meatballs and cook for 3 minutes, or until they are browned on the bottom. Turn and cook 2 minutes more, until browned on the other side. Remove from the pan. (The meatballs will not be cooked through.)

    Cook the remaining meatballs in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same way.

    Turkey Meatball Soup
    Sheryl Julian
  4. Make the soup:

    In a soup pot, heat the oil. Add the celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs and orzo. Return the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan.

    Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the meatballs are cooked through and the orzo is tender (cut the meatballs in half to check them; taste the orzo).

    Turkey Meatball Soup
    Sheryl Julian
    Turkey Meatball Soup
    Sheryl Julian
  5. Add the spinach:

    Add the spinach to the soup and cook 2 minutes more, or just until it wilts.

  6. Serve the soup:

    Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
579 Calories
34g Fat
30g Carbs
38g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 579
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 44%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 141mg 47%
Sodium 1375mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 11mg 53%
Calcium 310mg 24%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 907mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.