Skip to Content

Sicilian Meatball Soup with Cabbage

Sicilian Meatball Soup with Cabbage and vegetables is a healthy, hearty soup recipe that the whole family will love! Fun to prepare and so comforting, ideal for chilly weather. Make a big pot of meatball soup for serving guests on special occasions or for basic weekly meal prep.

three white bowls of meatball soup with vegetables.

I originally shared this Sicilian Meatball Soup recipe back in 2012, in honor of my mom’s long-time Sicilian partner, Carlo.

Constantly coming up with slow-cooked yummy meat recipes, he can make a lamb shank that will knock your socks off.  I admire Carlo’s way with meat and herbs as he really knows what herb is appropriate where.  

In his whimsical, throwing-around-pots-and-pans and chunking-off-ciabatta-and-cheese way, Carlo is an inspiration to anyone who wants to learn authentic Italian cooking. 

One of the things I love about this Sicilian Meatball Soup recipe is the end result is so magically flavorful you could swear the recipe took the entire day to make.

When in fact, it is fairly simple and doesn’t require much time at all!

Plus, the recipe is budget-friendly so you can make a big batch without it costing an arm and a leg.

This hearty meatball soup recipe is loaded with fresh vegetables so that the meal tastes nice and fresh.

The meatballs turn out so rich in flavor and have the absolute perfect texture. They also create a rich and flavorful broth so that the whole experience is an adventure for the taste buds!

All things considered, this nutritious meal is a great source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and fiber from the vegetables in addition to protein from the meat. 

I like using grass-fed ground beef to get some omega 3 fatty acids in there. If you’re going for less fat, use lean ground beef (90% lean or leaner) or ground turkey or ground game meat. 

Let’s dive into the ingredients so that 

Ingredients for Sicilian Meatball Soup:

Meatball Ingredients: Ground beef (or ground meat of choice such as ground elk or ground turkey), eggs, gluten-free all-purpose flour (or breadcrumbs), raisins, dried oregano, garlic powder, paprika, parmesan cheese (optional), salt and pepper. 

This combination of ingredients makes tender meatballs that are so flavorful and irresistible! Skip the raisins if you aren’t into it (although I find they give a lovely burst of sweetness to counterbalance the savoriness of the meal). 

Soup Ingredients: 

Vegetables: Onion, carrots, celery, garlic, zucchini, and cabbage make up the fresh veggies. 

Liquid: Chicken broth (or beef broth), crushed tomatoes, and red wine bring a rich and tangy tomato based broth that compliments everything nicely. Skip the wine if you don’t keep it on hand regularly.

Seasonings: Paprika, dried oregano, bay leaf, sea salt, and pepper. You can also add in a parmesan rind if you have fresh parmesan cheese on hand. Don’t worry about adding it if you’re dairy-free or if you don’t have a wedge of fresh parm at your house.

Recipe Adaptations:

  • If you prefer different ones, feel free to make the switch. Cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy are great here as well.
  • Use your favorite type of ground meat instead of ground beef if you’d like.
  • If you have fresh herbs on hand like fresh parsley or oregano, feel free to add them to either the meatballs of the soup or both.
  • Add any dried herbs you like to the soup such as dried rosemary or ground cumin.
Horizontal image of pot of Sicilian meatball soup with a ladle scooping some of it out.

Recipe Tips:

Chop all of the vegetables ahead of time so that you can begin sautéing the onions, carrots, and celery while the meatballs are cooking.

How to Make Sicilian Meatball Soup:

Prepare the Meatballs:

Add all of the ingredients for the meatballs to a large mixing bowl. Stir everything together well until all of the ingredients are combined. Note: I use my hands to squish everything together. If you own a stand mixer, you can also mix the meat in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl, ready to be mixed to make meatballs

Form balls out of the meat mixture.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of avocado oil or olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, carefully place the meatballs on the hot surface and brown on two sides for 2 to 3 minutes each.

Meatballs browning in a skillet

Make the Soup:

While the meatballs are cooking, start the soup.

Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery to a large stock pot (I use my Dutch oven) with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.

Onions, carrots, and celery sautéing in a large soup pot.

Allow the vegetables to cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 to 8 minutes (note: to speed up this process, sprinkle the vegetables with salt, stir well and cover the pot for a couple of minutes). 

Transfer the browned meat balls to the pot.

Meatballs on top of vegetables in a Dutch oven.

Add in the remaining ingredients except for the zucchini and cabbage, and give everything a gentle stir. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a full boil.

Tomato sauce being poured into a pot with veggies and meatballs.
all of the ingredients for the meatball soup in a Dutch oven, ready to cook

Once the soup reaches a boil, add the chopped zucchini and cabbage. Stir everything together, getting the cabbage to sink into the soup as best as possible. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low (or a gentle simmer). Cook, covered for 30 to 40 minutes. 

Soup with zucchini and cabbage just added in.

Serve soup in big bowls with rustic crusty bread, and enjoy!

If you love this recipe, you will also enjoy my Crock Pot Italian Meatball Soup and my Crock Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup.

Horizontal photo of three white bowls of Sicilian Meatball Soup with Cabbage on a light background, ready to be served.

More Healthy Soup Recipes:

Enjoy this flavorful, comforting soup recipe!

three white bowls of meatball soup with vegetables.

Sicilian Meatball Soup with Cabbage

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Sicilian Meatball Soup with vegetables and cabbage is a hearty, delicious and comforting one-pot meal the whole family will love!

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground beef*
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp raisins, optional
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour**
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

For the soup

  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup full-bodied red wine such as Cabernet or Syrah, optional
  • Rind of parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • ½ head of cabbage, core removed and discarded, sliced (OR 1 cup of uncooked macaroni/shell pasta)
  • 1 zucchini squash, chopped

Instructions

Prepare the Meatballs:

1. Add all of the ingredients for the meatballs to a large mixing bowl. Stir everything together well until all of the ingredients are combined. Note: I use my hands to squish everything together. If you own a stand mixer, you can also mix the meat in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl, ready to be mixed to make meatballs

2. Form balls out of the meat mixture.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of avocado oil or olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, carefully place the meatballs on the hot surface and brown on two sides for 2 to 3 minutes each.

Meatballs browning in a skilletTomato sauce being poured into a pot with veggies and meatballs.

While the meatballs are cooking, start the soup in a separate pot.

Make the Soup:

1. Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery to a large stock pot (I use my Dutch oven) with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.

Onions, carrots, and celery sautéing in a large soup pot.

Allow the vegetables to cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 to 8 minutes (note: to speed up this process, sprinkle the vegetables with salt, stir well and cover the pot for a couple of minutes). 

2. Transfer the browned meat balls to the pot.

Meatballs on top of vegetables in a Dutch oven.

3. Add in the remaining ingredients except for the zucchini and cabbage, and give everything a gentle stir. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a full boil.

Tomato sauce being poured into a pot with veggies and meatballs.

all of the ingredients for the meatball soup in a Dutch oven, ready to cook

4. Once the soup reaches a boil, add the chopped zucchini and cabbage. Stir everything together, getting the cabbage to sink into the soup as best as possible.

Soup with zucchini and cabbage just added in.

5. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low (or a gentle simmer). Cook, covered for 30 to 40 minutes. 

Meatball soup cooking on the stove top.

6. Serve soup in big bowls with rustic crusty bread, and enjoy!

Horizontal image of pot of Sicilian meatball soup with a ladle scooping some of it out.

Notes

*Use ground turkey, ground elk, or Italian sausage if you prefer.

**Or gluten-free breadcrumbs or regular bread crumbs.

Traditionally, Sicilian Meatball Soup has some form of pasta, either macaroni or shell pasta. If desired, add dry pasta to the soup and cook until al dente or replace the cabbage with pasta.

Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1 (of 6)
Amount Per Serving Calories 462Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 7gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 164mgSodium 1173mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 5gSugar 10gProtein 41g

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

This recipe was originally posted on November 14, 2012. I updated the photos, copy, and enhanced the recipe to make it even better!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Charlie H.

Wednesday 11th of January 2023

Yes indeed, this recipe looks very delicious and satisfying to me. Our weather here is cycling around freezing and is just begging for soups! I will give it a go soon, thanks for the great idea.

Julia

Thursday 12th of January 2023

My pleasure! I hope you enjoy the soup once you try it out! xo

Candy

Monday 27th of December 2021

Hi! Is this one of Carlos’s recipes?

Julia

Monday 27th of December 2021

Hi there! It's not Carlo's recipe, but it's a dish he's spoken about over the years :) xoxo

Kathleen

Wednesday 28th of November 2018

Making this soup, sounds delish but am confused by the “1/2 cup head of cabbage”. Is it really just a half cup or is it half a head? There’s a pretty big difference.

Julia

Wednesday 28th of November 2018

Hi Kathleen - my apologies for the confusion. It should be 1/2 head of cabbage or 1 cup of macaroni/pasta.

Danetta

Wednesday 2nd of October 2013

Thank you for posting this recipe. This is one of the best soups I have ever had! Love the raisins in the meatballs! ♥

Lois

Monday 8th of April 2013

I am crying over this soup...it is SOOO good! Made it for supper tonight as I had some ingredients I needed to use up. Can't believe how good it is.... Can't wait until winter, will make it over and over and over. Have you tried to freeze it? It made a pretty good sized pot, just wondering if does ok after being frozen.

Julia

Monday 8th of April 2013

Hi Lois! I'm so glad you enjoyed the soup! I made the recipe many times over the winter, as it's definitely a belly-warmer and is so satisfying! I've never tried freezing it, and I want to say it would be fine to freeze but I'm not positive. Let me know if you try freezing it and if it ends up thawing okay! I've frozen other ground meat soups before and they have thawed fine, so hopefully this one follows suit. Thanks so much for the feedback and enjoy the rest of your evening! :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe