We’re all feeling it aren’t we? It wouldn’t be the New Year without focusing on cleaning up, clearing out and cleansing from tip to toe.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kale and Turkey Meatball Soup is a healthy version of Italian Wedding Soup

Keeping with my new year tradition every single year, I’m taking advantage of my healthy resolve and I’m eating clean. This week. And maybe next. With just a side of butter and maybe a bite or six of cheese. And please, don’t hold it against me if there’s a nibble of chocolate here and there.

Balance, it’s the new black.

In thinking about eating strategies and menu planning, I still have cravings that need to be filled. Savory but simple. Filling and fortifying.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kale and Turkey Meatball Soup is a healthy version of Italian Wedding Soup

And can we make it in the slow cooker please?

Meatballs. I’m a fan. Proof → Mexican Turkey Meatballs with Avocado Smash. Or Tabasco Chicken Meatballs in a Spicy Tomato and Apricot Sauce.

While these full fledge meatball recipes are delish, I’m craving bite size babies. In something warm and comforting. Like soup to steel me for the winter chill.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kale and Turkey Meatball Soup is a healthy version of Italian Wedding Soup

Skinny Slow Cooker Kale and Turkey Meatball Soup is a healthy version of Italian Wedding Soup

You may have already guessed my Skinny Slow Cooker Kale and Turkey Meatball Soup is a riff on Italian Wedding Soup, of which there are some great recipes by other food bloggers. But like every girl, I wanted to be the bride instead of the bridesmaid so I created my own version.

About the recipe:

This recipe is another one of mine that celebrates one pot slow cooker cooking. I rolled these turkey baby balls out, cut up a few veggies and did a quick sear of the meatballs then plopped it all in the slow cooking pool so I could leave the house for a few hours and let it do its thing.

While most ground turkey in the grocery stores is 93% fat free, I prefer more fat in my turkey so the meatballs don’t dry out. But, if you’re really watching the calories, go for the low-fat version anytime.

**Amended** Several commenters noted the meatballs fell apart while cooking. To avoid that, be sure to lightly sear the meatballs in a large skillet before adding to the slow cooker.

I used kale in this version—my favorite green leafed filler—but escarole, swiss or rainbow chard and even spinach would add the hearty veggie heft this soup calls for. If you’re hoping for the leaves to retain their bright green color, add the kale in the last 1 ½ hours of cooking. If you’re not concerned, they cook up tender and flavorful with the total cooking time.

I thought about adding in a can of diced tomatoes for another layer of flavor. Maybe next time. And if you beat me to it, let me know what you think.

Skinny Slow Cooker Kale and Turkey Meatball Soup
Serves: serves 8 makes, about 55 ½-inch meatballs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (85% lean)
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (64 ounces)
  • 1 15-ounce can white Northern beans or other small white bean, drained and rinsed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups kale (about 1 pound)
  1. Add milk to a large mixing bowl then tear the bread into chunks and add to the milk to soak. Add the turkey, shallot, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, cheese, parsley and egg and gently mix with your fingers until the mixture is combined. Use a small scoop or melon baller to form ½ inch balls.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and lightly sear the meatballs for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the broth, beans, carrots, onion and kale to the insert of a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker.
  4. Drop the meatballs onto the kale, cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until the meatballs float to the surface.
  5. Serve the soup garnished with grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and fresh parsley leaves.
adapted from Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever

Remember what I said about the year of the meatball? Well, it’s alive and well and still totally craveable. Here’s proof.


Faith puts the tin can version of Spaghetti Os and Meatballs on its ear with An Edible Mosaic’s healthier, homemade Spaghetti Ring and Meatball Soup


It takes just one pot to create Add a Pinch’s tomato-flavored Meatball Soup, so clean up is a cinch, making way for more time to get the other chores done.


Making balls out of links is how Bev rolls. Or at least rolls her balls. Meatballs that is. Join the party with Bev Cooks Soup with Sausage Meatballs, White Beans and Kale.


Lauren may have been lacking focus in her day’s duties, but it’s a pretty good thing she did because Lauren’s Latest‘s Chicken Meatball and Barley Soup is the delicious result of it. Mr. Holland’s Opus, yo?


Food Nouveau’s Ginger, Sesame and Coriander Meatball Soup are also a tasty treat when they’re taken out of the soup pot and served up as an appetizer small bite.


Maria puts Josh to work to create a hearty—aka meaty—version of one of her faves in Two Peas and Their Pod’s Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup.


And lest you think this is my first meatball rodeo, check out this blast from the past: My Matzo Ball Soup with Chicken Meatballs. Matzo balls are my weakness.

As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. 

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