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.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
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
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano , grated, plus more for serving
- 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.
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I made this delicious recipe this week and I love it! I did it on the stove and not the slow cooker and it came out great. I work late hours at times and this is perfect for 8pm dinner!
So glad it worked out for you!
Great recipe! For anyone using an Instant Pot, I seared meatballs in the pot first, deglazed with veg stock, added all ingredients in (added egg noodles) and cooked on pressure cook for 4 minutes. Garnished with green onion – delish!
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
Can you freeze this soup? I have made it twice, it is delicious. Thanks for your thoughts.
Hi Jamie, I haven’t frozen it before, but I’m guessing you could.
It’s listed as a light soup but no nutritional or caloric information is listed? What is the per serving nutritional info?
Can you use frozen turkey meatballs??
This soup looks really healthy. Definitely worth a try. It looks very asian for some reason.
This soup was amazing. I seared the meatballs and they all stayed together. Great flavour! Def make this again.
What a Waste of perfectly good ingredients. The Meatballs in this soup turned into slush. :(
Hi Lissette, I’ve amended the recipe to include searing the meatballs before adding to the slow cooker to help the meatballs bind together while cooking. Sorry it didn’t work out for you.
yummy! just came across your recipe on pinterest! we’re bread-free (i know, tragic!), so is the bread necessary?
can’t wait to try it!
Not good at all. The meatballs cooked, but none of the other vegetables did. Tasted like meatballs in water. My husband and I are great cooks, but we just couldn’t save this recipe… Or even finish eating it.
Yeah I am having the same trouble. My veggies are all still practically raw. Fortunately I had started it at noon. I’m going to turn it up to high for another 2-3 hours and hopefully it’ll be done properly before it gets way too late to eat dinner.
I made this last week and I really enjoyed it! I get off work late most nights, so I made the turkey meatballs first, and I refrigerated them until the next day. The next night I put everything in the slower cooker and dumped my meatballs on top, but I didn’t get to enjoy the soup until the day after because it was midnight! This soup really gets better the day after day. My meatballs held up well, even though I was afraid they had too little fat content. Maybe refrigerating them overnight helped? I will make this again, but if you find that the flavors aren’t quite working just give it day and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
This is great, but it needs to be cooked on high. 4 hours on low led to pink meatballs that never cooked through.
I tried this soup and it was a terrible failure. The recipe doesn’t say to brown the meatballs or to saute the onions prior to cooking. Kind of my fault, as I should have known better.
Ditto, Shirley. It was very frustrating to make (and fail at making!!). The meatballs just disintegrated in the broth and it ended up rendering a greasy, flesh colored mess!
Sorry you had that experience. Perhaps the amount of fat in the ground turkey (or lack thereof) contributed to the meatballs not staying together. I used lean rather than extra lean. I’ve amended the ingredient list.
So either I have a 3QT slow cooker or this recipe requires a 7QT. (I’m pretty sure it’s the latter). It’s cooking now but it was just ever-so-slightly too full of stuff when I followed the directions to a “T” and I had to put a cloth napkin around the slow cooker to soak up the slow drips over the edges.
I have the larger 6 quart slow cooker. I will amend that in the directions. Thanks for pointing it out.
Love this recipe! I made it last night and it was just as good as it sounded. The only thing is my carrots didn’t get real soft, any suggestions?
mine didn’t either, and the onions stayed a bit crisp too. i’m turning it to high and leaving it for another hour or so.
ALSO: soooo good with a squeeze of lemon in the bowl! and i’m making rice to throw in there too.
Adrienne @ Chronicles of an Amateur Food Lover
Wow, this soup looks delicious! I too share your love of meatballs. They’re just so customizable! :) I must make this!
Oh yah!! I need a nice big bowl of this! Looks perfect! xoxo
Love the recipe. Didn’t mean to bust your chaps about the “skinny” thing yesterday- just not my favorite adjective. What can I say? I was an aspiring Women’s Lit major when I started college. Gotta love the slow cooker and anything with kale and meatballs, I’m all over! xo
it looks very comforting!
Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes)
This soup looks absolutely mind blowingly fantastic!
Sarah Adler of Simply Real Health
Ha! Bride and not a bridesmaid!
I need to get on this the meatball train! I have only made them once, but need to make more. This soup looks so cozy and perfect!
Sarah | The Sugar Hit
I could go for some cold weather right now! It’s mid-summer in Australia and it is SOOO HOT, but all I want to eat is soup!
Yummy hearty soup on a cold snowy day sounds perfect, and the slow cooker is an real bonus.
Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough
So much goodness! I’m declaring this the year of the meatball. And of the slow cooker. And of this soup.
Arthur in the Garden!
A great interpretation!
Ali | Gimme Some Oven
Mmmmm, my kind of comfort food. Looks beautiful!
This looks absolutely amazing! As do the rest of those meatball recipes. Putting it on my must-make list!
So beautiful! Pulling out the slow cooker right now. I only have ground beef on hand but figure it will still work…. A tiny meatball is a tiny meatball right? :) thanks for the great recipe!
Christine @ Cooking with Cakes
love the itty bitty meatballs!! why are things so much tastier when they’re small?
and yeah, my healthy eating always comes with a side of chocolate and a hunk of cheese #gofigure
Megan @ Country Cleaver
I’m all for slowing things down and cleaning this up with food! This looks perfect for winter and the NY resolutions!
We finally dusted off our slow cooker and have been putting it to good use! I know Josh will want to try this recipe! Perfect for a cold day!
Robyn | Add a Pinch
I love meatball soup, slow cookers, and your plan for balance. It sounds like perfection to me! xo
I’m a big fan of your idea of balances. Soup + chocolate seems like the best way to go. Love the flavours in this and how it manages to be both hearty and light at the same time.