This healthy spin on classic Italian Wedding Soup is made lighter with turkey meatballs, white beans, and plenty of kale, all in a light and comforting broth.
We’re all feeling it, aren’t we? It wouldn’t be the New Year without focusing on cleaning up, clearing out and and cleansing from tip to toe.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 1/4 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the broth, beans, carrots, onion and kale to the insert of a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker.
- Drop the meatballs onto the kale, cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until the meatballs float to the surface.
- Serve the soup garnished with grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and fresh parsley leaves.
If You Liked This Recipe, You’ll Like These:
- Italian Meatball Minestrone Soup
- Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Kale
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean and Sausage 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.