Slow Cooker Vegan Italian Wedding Soup is a delicious and satisfying plant-based alternative to this classic comfort food. Plus, it’s super easy to make in the slow cooker.Steve and I have gotten into a nice pattern these past few weeks – it’s called slow cooker Sundays. Every Sunday morning/afternoon, we throw ingredients in the slow cooker, move on with our day and then have dinner ready for us in the evening as well as plenty of leftovers for the week ahead. As much as I enjoy cooking, I certainly don’t enjoy cooking everyday. That’s why I love batch cooking – making large quantities of meals to have leftovers for lunch or dinner for the week or to freeze for another time when we’re in a dinner pinch.
I’m really looking forward to spring-like temperatures around the corner but I’m going to shed a tear when it comes time to bid adieu to the slow cooker until next winter (not saying you can’t use the slow cooker all year round but I tend to use it more during the winter months).
I’m noticing another pattern too with my recipes on the blog – making all the plant-based versions of recipes I used to enjoy way back in the day before I stopped eating meat. Like my Vegetarian Buffalo Cauliflower Wing Dip that was a HUGE hit (oh, god I sound like Trump – HELP) for the Super Bowl this year and now this vegan version of Italian Wedding Soup.
I have vague memories of eating Italian Wedding Soup as a kid but what I do remember is being psyched that there was pasta and meatballs in a bowl of soup! Speaking of pasta, this recipe calls for acini di pepe pasta and when I told my husband what kind of pasta we needed, he said “oh yeah, pee pee pasta.” Still learning things about my husband after oh, 14 years of knowing the guy.
I was reeeeeeeeallly satisfied with this recipe. It took two tests but I think we nailed it. Carnivore husband approved AND meat-eating friend who came over to watch the Oscars with us approved. So, there’s that. Did I mention that this soup is ultra satisfying? My mother recently called me the soup lady when I told her we were having this recipe for dinner (apparently she thinks we make a lot of soup…we do). But she doesn’t understand how we can just eat soup for dinner…which I always correct her that we’re having soup AND bread :). But when the soup you make is loaded with pasta, veggies and protein, it’s totally satiating. At least to my body it is.
I made chickpea meatballs for this soup recipe – so easy to make in the food processor and then sautéed ’em to brown ’em and finished them off in the oven. Really delicious flavor with the dried basil and parsley and umami flavor from the vegan parm cheese. Coupled with the savory flavor of the soup, I could eat bowls on bowls on bowls of this.
So, before winter is over, bust out the slow cooker and make this soup! It’s comforting, satisfying and VEGAN!Print
Slow Cooker Vegan Italian Wedding Soup
- Yield: Serves 6-8 (with 4-6 "meatballs" per serving) 1x
For the soup:
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 cups vegetable broth
- 10 ounces baby spinach
- 1 cup acini di pepe pasta (or pastina/stars pasta)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Extra freshly ground black pepper and vegan parmesan cheese for serving
For the vegan “meatballs”:
- 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs + 2 tablespoons, divided (both panko and regular work fine)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegan parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the soup:
- In the slow cooker, add onion, celery, carrot, garlic and vegetable broth. Cook on low for 5 hours.
- With 20 minutes left in cooking time, stir in the baby spinach and pasta. After 20 minutes, turn off the slow cooker, add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve with vegan meatballs and freshly ground black pepper and vegan parmesan cheese.
For the vegan “meatballs”:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- To make a flax egg, stir flaxseed with water and let sit in the fridge for 15 minutes, or until thickened.
- In a food processor, add chickpeas, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, onion powder, garlic salt and flax egg. Pulse to combine.
- Mix 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons vegan parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
- Roll chickpea mixture into small balls (about 1 tablespoon mixture each) and roll in the breadcrumb/cheese to coat.
- In two batches, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Saute balls for 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
- Transfer sautéed balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
- Serve vegan meatballs on top of soup.
Also, I just wanted to thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for the prayers and good vibes and well wishes for my Dad. They helped! His surgery and recovery went well and his path reports are clear! Thank you for the support and love. xoxoAnd now for the super exciting news! I’m partnering with a group of amazing bloggers this month to give away a $700 gift card to Amazon! Think about ALL THE THINGS you can buy with $700! Here’s to hoping that Irish luck is on your side for this St. Pat’s Amazon giveaway! The giveaway runs through March 15th (11:30 PM) so you’ve got about two weeks to enter. Good luck!
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I can’t eat chic peas, do you think white beans would make a good substitute? I’m eager to try your soup with Fall around the corner.
Hi Lauren – I haven’t tested it, but white beans are a similar, mild flavored bean, so I’m guessing they would work! I would start with 1 can and see how the texture feels. You’ll want to make sure it’s not too wet to form a meatball shape and stay together. Let me know if you try it!
This looks good! So you have any advice for leftovers? If you have leftovers with the pasta and spinach already in the soup, will it go soggy? I’m wondering if you can only add spinach and pasta to the portion you will eat that day. Also, can you freeze the chickpea balls?
Hi Brandy, great question. You can definitely freeze the chickpea balls. As for the pasta, it likely won’t retain such a great texture (soggy, as you noted). I don’t think the spinach should be as much of a problem. If this were a mostly veggie soup, things might get a little mushy altogether, but spinach on its own should hold up okay! It may not taste as fresh, though. Let me know if you try it!
Can I make the chickpea balls ahead of time?
Great question! You can definitely make them ahead of time, but I would wait to brown them until you’re ready to make the soup for the best flavor. However, it would likely be okay to also sauté/brown them ahead of time, too – up to preference there. Let me know if you try!
This looks great!
Thank you for this recipe. The base of this soup tastes just like my mom’s. She was from Naples, Italy. She never taught me to cook. She passed away in 2012.
Awe. Thank you for sharing that, Maria. I hope it brought back fond memories of your Mother. <3
This looks and sounds so good! I’ve made lentil “meatballs” but haven’t tried with chickpeas yet
Thanks, Kelly! Lentil “meatballs” sound great too! Would love the recipe!
I am all about the slow cooker as I complete my dietetic internship!! And those veggie “meat” balls?! Sound SO good!!!!
I’m all about the slow cooker too! Saves so much time! Thanks, Tara!!
Thank you so much for this recipe! I recently stumbled upon your website and have already made three including this soup. Amazing!
Oh, awesome! So glad you stumbled upon it and that you’re enjoying the recipes, Michelle!
Great looking soup! I cant wait to try it. Thanks for sharing 🙂
I was wondering…. could vegan parmesan be substituted by nutritional yeast?
Thanks, Lola! Yes, you could definitely use nutritional yeast instead.
not vegan, can i use a real egg for the “meat”balls?
Sure thing, Debra!
You lost me when you bashed Trump. Not all people seeking healthy recipes are liberals. Keep your politics out of your blog, it’s a turn off. Just a suggestion from A fellow Kara, but one who’s a conservative.
Sorry, Kara. It was meant to be more of a joke than any true political opinion or sentiment. I’m sorry if it offended and turned you off. I’ll definitely keep that in mind when writing future posts.
I have been trying to find ways to eat without meat and this fits the bill. The best part is I keep all these ingredients in my house so don’t have to run out and buy them
I hope you love it as much as I do! It tastes as good as it looks 🙂
This soup sounds amazing! Perfect for this cold March we are having.
Thank you! It’s been my go-to soup recipe lately.
You are so clever. These look gorgeous and sound delicious.
Thanks so much 🙂
That soup looks delicious! If I win I’ll buy an Instant Pot, a rug for the dining room, and some new books.
Thanks! Hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂
Your vegan meatballs look so real! They also look quite good. I’ll have to try them!
Thank you! They are so tasty!!
I need to try this version of “meatballs”! They look amazing!
Thank you! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
I would put the money towards a new laptop and some new dinnerware. Thanks for the chance!
Thanks for entering!
This recipe looks great! Will try it this weekend!
Hope you enjoy–this is one of my go-to soup recipes!
I have to try those vegan “meatballs”. They sound so good!
Thank you! Those “meatballs” are to die for 🙂
Looks delicious Kara- I’ll have to share this with my grandpa, that’s his favorite soup!
Thanks Liz! This is also one of my favorite soups 🙂
Oh Kara, this looks lovely! And I love the idea of Slow Cooker Sundays! Genius!
Thanks Sara 🙂
Probably on baby stuff! I’m due in 4 weeks.
Congratulations on your little bundle of joy! 🙂
I’ve made slow cooker Italian Wedding Soup before, but never a vegan version. Those “meatballs” sound delicious! Such a healthy and cozy supper!
Thanks Blair! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Wow! This soup looks incredible! And I love that it’s made in a slow cooker!
Thanks so much Lauren! This is one of my favorite recipes 🙂
An amazing giveaway!! I buy so much from Amazon, from cacao powder, to snack bars and cat supplements. Thanks!!
Thanks for entering!
So glad to hear that your dad is doing well! And this soup sounds SO good!
Thanks so much Laura. And yes, this soup is to DIE for–it’s one of my favorites!
Thanks for this amazing giveaway!
The first thing I would get would be a slow cooker. I have wanted one for years…
Then I wil get a new tent and some gear for our backpacking adventures this summer 🙂
Those sound like awesome ideas, Marie-Eve! Thanks for entering 🙂
I would love to put the winnings towards groceries (I love that you can buy that on Amazon now!) Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway.
Thanks for entering, Ashley!