Lily’s Favorite Italian Soup – Need A Hand

“Need A Hand” recipes are for folks who need a bit of help in the kitchen.

Italian Soup and parmesan cheese in a bowl
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Lily’s Favorite Italian Soup

Need A Hand



  • 1 pound ground chicken (boneless skinless thighs if you are grinding the meat yourself)
  • ½ tsp finely crushed garlic
  • ½ C breadcrumbs
  • ¼ C shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Fresh cracked pepper


  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery finely diced
  • 1 large carrot finely diced
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 8 C chicken stock (see Chicken Stock recipe)
  • 1 C diced cooked chicken (see Roast Chicken recipe)
  • 1 can great northern beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1 small can no salt added tomato sauce
  • ½ pound ditalini pasta cooked to package directions and cooled
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Fresh parmesan to serve optional


To start, make the meatballs:

  • Mix all ingredients for meatballs together and make meatballs in either ¼ to ½ inch rounds.
  • Meatballs that are all the same size is the goal.
  • I like to place them on a cookie sheet as I finish them, they’re easier to manage that way.
  • They will puff up a tiny bit when they cook, but not much.
  • I prefer smaller meatballs but feel free to find a good size for yourself.
  • FYI these will be cooked in the broth, not the oven. The cookie sheet is just to hold them (instead of a bunch of plates).

While you form the meatballs, make the ditalini:

  • Prepare the ditalini pasta according to the package directions, to al dente doneness.
  • Once done cooking, strain and cool thoroughly.
  • If you have one available (and the space), use a cookie sheet to spread the pasta onto to help cool faster.

Once the meatballs are prepared, or while someone else is making the meatballs:

  • Using a ¼ inch size as your guide, chop the vegetables into separate containers: onions, celery, and carrot.
  • I like to use disposable drink cups, or my kitchen cereal bowls to separate the veggies.
  • In a 5 quart stock pot, add the butter and melt until bubbly.
  • Add the onions and cook for three or four minutes.
  • Mix in the celery with the onions and sprinkle in the salt and pepper.
  • Once the celery is bright green add the carrots and cook for 4 more minutes.
  • Add the garlic to the pot.
  • Now add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Once the veggies and stock are boiling:

  • Turn the heat on the stove down to medium-high.
  • Drain and rinse the great northern beans.
  • Carefully, without splashing, add the chicken, canned ingredients (including beans), and meatballs.
  • Allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Some folks like a little more salt and pepper, so add that at this time. Just remember, do so in VERY small increments. You can’t take it back out of the soup!
  • Add the cooled ditalini pasta to the pot and allow to cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Serve.


Serving suggestions:
Serve the same day with freshly shredded parmesan cheese.
Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Don’t need the extra help? See my “Confidence” version of this recipe.