Vegan Italian Wedding Soup

This vegan spin on the classic Italian Wedding Soup is comforting, delicious, and full of texture and nourishment. Savory sausage bean balls are tucked into a warm broth with tiny pasta and vibrant greens. I used a gorgeous Redbor kale, but you can easily sub in spinach or escarole. Make the bean balls ahead of time to pop into the soup for an easy weeknight meal!
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chilling: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Crumbs & Caramel

Ingredients

For the Bean Balls:

  • 2.5 cups navy beans
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil plus more for coating
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed/minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

For the Soup:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced (about 3 large)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 9 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup orzo, or other tiny pasta
  • 1 bunch kale, deveined and torn into bite size pieces

Instructions

For the Bean Balls:

  • Mash the beans in a large bowl with a fork or potato masher until no whole beans are left (don't overdo it though, there should be bean pieces left for texture, it shouldn't look like hummus.) Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until very well blended. Either using your hands or the fork, keep mixing an extra 2 minutes to get the gluten forming. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least half an hour. Both the kneading and the chilling is key for bean balls that hold their shape.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Remove the bean mixture from the fridge. For bean balls going into the soup, scoop 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture and then rolled into balls. Drizzle the bean balls with a few tablespoons of olive oil and gently shake the tray back and forth so the balls roll around and get evenly coated in the oil. Rearrange the balls on the tray so they aren't touching each other. This helps them crisp up. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn the balls and bake another 8-10 minutes or until golden. If you're wanting bigger balls, go for it but they will need to bake longer and may not hold their shape as well. The bean balls will firm up as they cool.

For the Soup:

  • In a large pot, add the olive oil over med-low heat. Toss in the onion and carrots and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine to deglaze. Pour in the soup stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to directions but at 1 minute before it's done, add the kale.
  • To serve, place 5 or 6 bean balls in each soup bowl, and ladle the soup over them.

Notes:

Store and reheat the bean balls and the soup separately so that the bean balls don't get soggy and fall apart. Add the bean balls to the soup just before serving.
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