Italian Wedding Soup with Duck Meatballs

The La Crema Culinary Team’s Italian Wedding Soup with Duck Meatballs was a crowd-pleasing hit at this year’s Winter Wineland tasting event.

This soup is completely made from scratch, and involves a pretty detailed butchering of an entire duck. But, if you have access to a local specialty food store butcher, the lions share of the work (including grinding the duck meat and de-boning the bird) can be handled by a professional with professional equipment.

In the end, you will have a rich, earthy broth and succulent duck meatballs as a reward for your effort. And it pairs marvelously with our Russian River Pinot Noir.

Italian Wedding Soup with Duck Meatballs

Serves: 12


For the meatballs
  • 2 Tbsp. duck fat or oil
  • ½ onion, minced (top & bottom reserved for soup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. pork butt, ground
  • 1 whole duck, breasts & legs removed, deboned and ground (bones chopped into 3-inch pieces & reserved for soup)
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, picked & chopped (stems reserved for soup)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For the soup
  • Reserved duck bones from meatball recipe, above
  • 8 quarts water
  • ½ cup red wine, such as Pinot Noir
  • 3 stalks celery, diced (top & bottoms reserved)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. duck fat or oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. maitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed & cut into ½-inch strips
  • 2 cups acini de pepe pasta
  • 4 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


For the meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
  2. In a pan, add duck fat, minced onion and garlic.  Cook over low heat until tender.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Scoop out 65 (1-ounce) balls and roll in your hands to form.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 7 minutes.
For the soup
  1. Preheat the oven to 375⁰F.
  2. Place the reserved duck bones in a roasting pan and roast until browned, approximately 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, drain off the fat and place the bones in a large pot.  Cover with 8 quarts water.
  3. Deglaze the roasting pan with wine, being sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan; add this to the pot with the duck bones.
  4. Add reserved onion & celery scraps, thyme stems and bay leaf.  Bring to a light boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 2 hours, skimming off any foam.  Strain and reserve.
  5. In a pot, add duck fat, diced onion, celery and garlic.  Cook over low heat until tender.  Add reserved duck stock, mushrooms, kale and meatballs.  Bring to a boil and add pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until pasta is tender, approximately 5 minutes.
Serving instructions
  1. Place 3-4 duck meatballs in a bowl and ladle soup over meatballs. Finish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.