Can we hear it for the one pot meal? But not the mushy 20,000 calorie casseroles of our youth, the healthy, flavorful prodigal children of the beloved Instant Pot. And before you stop reading because Insta-what?, this recipe will work just fine in a crock pot, too, but I can’t guarantee your husband and children will parade around the house proclaiming it one of your best. There is something that happens in the pressure cooker that can only be described as Black Magic. The things that happen inside the pot produce the richest and most intense flavors of anything I have ever cooked, and that is why I am forever devoted to the Instant Pot. That being said, the one pot soups and stews of the IP fit a little better into my Fall menu lineup, so, BBQ grill, I will miss you, but Instant Pot, you’re back in the twice-a-day rotation, girlfriend.
This recipe came to me via my friend Margo. Margo is part of the sisterhood of the Instant Pot, and much like me, she is the primary caregiver for two darling littles under the age of 4, which means that her meals literally have to be cooked while her toddler takes an extended potty session, or eats her lunch with a snail-like pace that can only be mastered by toddlers, or when she is sometimes able to roll out of her kids rooms like a Ninja and they both still stay asleep. What I’m trying to say is, if time is not your friend these days, this recipe simply must make it into your rotation. Choose it for that crazy night when karate stacks on top of ballet and your husband has the late meeting, and you have a thing early so you have that elusive 15 minute window to cook in, but you don’t want to order pizza, because, health.
Margo and her friends riffed on this recipe a fair bit before it came to me, and then I took liberties to riff further, and I’m so glad I did. The end result is like a big bear hug in a bowl – meaty enough to please the biggest carnivores (half my family), veggie-laden enough to make it a one-pot meal, and comforting enough to give solace to even the busiest of families. Plus, leftovers. I never make anything without leftovers.
One-Pot, Fifteen-Minute, Italian Meatball Soup
Serves 8 generously
4 teaspoons of beef better than bouillon (yes you can sub beef broth, but it won’t be as good- BTB is the jam)
2 14.5 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes with oregano and garlic (or just plain ones are ok, too)
8 cups of water
1 package of organic frozen veggie blend (I use the Organic Foursome from Trader Joe’s)
1 cup of acini di pepe pasta (or orzo, or something else teeny tiny, but buy the acini di pepe and keep it in stock if you can)
1 teaspoon of dried italian or greek seasoning (I love Penzeys the most)
1 cup of marinara or jarred pasta sauce – your preferred flavor and brand
30-40 frozen meatballs of your choosing (we love the Trader Joe’s brand and use about two bags, or we have recently started buying Costco frozen meatballs; Trader Joe’s also makes turkey meatballs which are even healthier)
I’ve always wanted to say this. Put all of these things in the pot (except the pasta), and close it, set it for 25 minutes on manual or if you’re using the old crock pot, for 6-8 hours on high. Forget about it. After a quick or natural release, open and add the acini di pepe, close and set for 4 minutes on manual. Open, take in the aroma of happiness and love in a bowl. If you’re using a crock pot, add the pasta for the last 30 minutes of time.
I serve with a bit of grated pecorino romano cheese.
Let me know how you like it!
Note: Update: This recipe works best in an 8 qt instant pot; if you have a smaller one, I recommend reducing the liquid or the meatballs by about 1 cup. Thanks for writing in, readers, to let me know!