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Last updated on July 1st, 2024 at 04:26 pm

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Instant Pot Italian Meatball Soup

If you have never had Italian meatball soup, imagine a rich and flavorful tomato-based soup with Italian herbs, lots of juicy Italian meatballs, tiny pasta, and veggies. Topped with melted parmesan and mozzarella cheese, fresh herbs, and served with crusty bread. This recipe is cooked to perfection in less than 30 minutes in the Instant Pot, so you get a restaurant-quality meal in the comfort of your kitchen.

Instant Pot Italian Meatball Soup is the perfect easy meal you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less. With budget-friendly ingredients and thanks to using frozen, store-bought meatballs, this delicious soup is easy peasy to make.

Made with juicy meatballs, marinara sauce, crushed tomatoes and topped with cheese, this meal is pure comfort food. You can have a big pot of this delicious hearty comfort food (enough to feed seven people) without doing hardly anything except sautéing the veggies and turning on the pot.

I specifically developed this recipe using frozen meatballs, to make it very easy for you. Just serve with a few slices of crusty bread to soak that delicious broth. If you are a huge fan of instant pot recipes just like I am, you will love this lasagna soup, another Italian classic made in a fracrtion of time in the pressure cooker.

Why you will love this recipe 

  • Simple to make: Just a few steps from start to finish.
  • No special tools: All you need is an instant pot and a spoon.
  • Easy cleanup: You only have one pot to wash.
  • Hearty enough to be a meal: It has meat, veggies, and pasta for a complete meal.

What you’ll need to make instant pot Italian meatball soup

Special items:

  • Instant pot – Mine is a six-quart Duo Plus Instant Pot.
  • Wooden spoon – For stirring.


  • Olive oil – Extra-virgin olive oil for a light and mild taste.
  • Onion – I use a large freshly diced onion.
  • Garlic – Freshly minced garlic cloves provide a robust garlic taste without bitterness.
  • Carrots – I use two large carrots, peeled and diced.
  • Celery – This is optional, but I like the crunchiness of diced celery.
  • Tomato paste – San Marzano tomato paste is the only kind I like.
  • Crushed tomatoes – For this, I also use San Marzano tomatoes.
  • Marinara sauce – For a rush of pure tomato flavor, try my homemade marinara sauce.
  • Beef broth – Low-sodium organic beef broth for lower salt with no additives.
  • Mini meatballs – I love Rosina, Pineland Farms, or Rao’s frozen meatballs.
  • Dried basil – For a hint of sweet and savory with a touch of mint and spiciness.
  • Dried oregano – The most popular Italian herb. Full of aromatic earthy, peppery, and robust bold flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes – Only a little bit for a touch of spiciness. You can leave it out if you do not like spicy food.
  • Fresh parsley – A grassy taste with a sweet touch.
  • Scallions – Like sweet onions, only milder.
  • Mozzarella or parmesan cheese – Freshly grated or shaved for topping.

How to make instant pot Italian meatball soup?

  1. Sauté: Set the pot to sauté more for the medium-high setting. When it reads HOT, add the oil, onions, and garlic. Sauté for two to three minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Add more: Now, add the carrots and celery and cook for another minute. Next, pour in the tomato paste, stir, and cook for one more minute.
  3. Pressure cook: Next, add the rest of the ingredients and stir, Set the pot to high pressure for nine minutes.
  4. Release, top, and serve: After it is finished, do a 5 minute natural release, after which perform a quick release. Open the pot stir, and serve topped with scallions, parsley, and cheese.

Expert tip

Making your own meatballs

I usually call for fresh ingredients in my recipes, but frozen meatballs make more sense in this one. It is just too time-consuming to make all the meatballs, bake them, wait for them to cool, and then start over with the instant pot recipe that is supposed to be so fast. You will have already spent almost an hour in the kitchen making the meatballs. So, if you want your meatballs, make them and freeze or refrigerate them until you are ready to make the soup.

When you are ready to begin, you can start with frozen or refrigerated meatballs. If you are starting with refrigerated meatballs, cut the cooking time by one minute so they do not get overdone. I always worry that my meatballs are going to fall apart when I cook them in an instant pot. But with this easy meatball recipe, you do not have to worry about that. I do not have to worry about using frozen ones from the store.

Another reason I have chosen to use frozen meatballs is because I found a few favorites that really stand out. The first one that I think were absolutely perfect for this soup is Rosina Meatballs – Italian Style. They are small and juicy, come in a bag of about 50, and are inexpensive. Pineland Farms also has Italian-style meatballs made with no additives or hormones, come in a bag of 30, and are also affordable. Rao’s, whose pasta and sauce I also use, makes delicious meatballs, too, but they are really large.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Other meats: Instead of Italian meatballs, you can use chopped ham, chunks of chicken, shredded beef, or even turkey meatballs.
  • Mexican meatball soup: Add a tablespoon of my taco seasoning and serve with some salsa and tortilla chips for a Mexican-style meatball soup.
  • More veggies: To add more substance, toss in some of your favorite veggies, such as mushrooms, corn, green beans, peas, and bell peppers. 
  • Different pasta shapes: Experiment with other pasta like spaghetti, ziti, farfalle, or cavatappi.
  • No pasta: Instead of pasta, you could also use rice. Any kind of rice would be delicious.
  • Spicy soup: Make your meatball soup extra spicy. Chop up some poblano peppers, add some tabasco sauce, and sprinkle in some cayenne pepper along with the red pepper flakes.

Serving suggestions:

This soup works well on its own or with side dishes. Here are some ways I like to serve it.

  • A long crusty loaf of French bread just out of the oven would be perfect to serve with this soup.
  • Another way to enjoy this meal is with a pile of these melt-in-your-mouth butter-swim-biscuits. You only need four ingredients to make them.
  • I always loved having a bowl of this soup (or any soup) with a crispy grilled cheese sandwich.
  • I love bread, so serving it in a bread bowl is something I really enjoy!
  • A cheese and veggie platter with an array of hard cheeses and a variety of your favorite vegetables would also be a fun accompaniment.
  • Any dessert would pair well with Italian meatball soup, but a nice light Italian shaved ice or strawberry sorbet is always welcome.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between this and Italian wedding soup?

The ingredients are very similar. Both have meatballs, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, spinach, Italian herbs, some type of small pasta, and broth. However, meatball soup has crushed tomatoes, while Italian wedding soup does not have any kind of tomatoes or tomato sauce at all. To garnish, meatball soup is topped with parsley, scallions, and parmesan or mozzarella, while wedding soup is not topped with anything, except some fresh chopped herbs.

What kind of pasta is best for Italian meatball soup?

Most people choose a small but hearty pasta noodle like ditaloni and ditalini, which are small hollow tubes with ridges for the sauce to stick to, or risoni, also known as orzo. Stelline, which are shaped like little stars, are popular in Italian wedding soup and also for this soup. Pastina, the smallest type of pasta produced, is also an interesting choice for this hearty soup.

Can I make my own meatballs?

Yes, you can absolutely make your meatballs from scratch. I typically make my own meatballs from scratch. In this recipe, I chose to use frozen meatballs as a time saver. You can toss them into the soup still frozen and they will not affect the cooking time. It would be great if you choose to make your own and freeze them. I shared a recipe with you in the expert tip section above. You need a handful of basic ingredients you probably already have; it only takes about 30 minutes.

What is the difference between Italian and Swedish meatballs?

There are several differences. First is the apparent size difference. While the Swedish meatball is about the size of a teaspoon or a golf ball, an Italian meatball can be between two and three inches in diameter. However, this is only sometimes the case since some recipes call for Swedish meatballs to be extra-large (up to four inches in diameter). In contrast, specific Italian recipes can call for smaller meatballs around an inch in diameter. Swedish meatballs also use allspice and nutmeg, while Italian meatballs are seasoned with garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, and other Italian herbs.

How to store leftovers:

  • Refrigerate: To save leftover soup, refrigerate in a glass jar for up to five days.   
  • Freezing: You can also freeze it in a freezer-safe jar for up to three months.   
  • Defrost: Thaw it overnight in the fridge so the glass does not crack.
  • Reheating: You can reheat it in a saucepan for several minutes until it comes to a boil.   

More instant pot soups to try:

Recipe tips:

  • I prefer to use frozen meatballs for this recipe because they are already browned and cooked, so you can skip that step, making this a fast and easy meal. However, you can make your own.
  • Most Italian meatball soup recipes, including this one, call for small pasta shapes. However, if you want a larger pasta, go for it!
  • Do not skip sautéing the veggies before you start the soup, or you will not get that intense onion and garlic taste.
  • Also, to avoid the BURN notice, scrape the bottom of the pan after you finish sautéing.
  • Do not do a natural release after the cooking time is up. Go straight to the manual release for this soup recipe.

Instant Pot Italian Meatball Soup

Italian meatball soup is a rich and flavorful tomato-based soup with Italian herbs, lots of juicy Italian meatballs, tiny pasta, and veggies. Ready in about 30 minutes!!

  • Prep Time10 MIN
  • Cook Time15 MIN
  • Servings 7 serv


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 8 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 1 cup diced celery optional
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 can / 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 20-25 mini meatballs fully cooked and frozen
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt add more if needed
  • 32 oz beef or vegetable broth I used beef broth


  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley diced
  • 2 tablespoons scallions diced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or mozzarella cheese


  • Heat up your pressure cooker: press Sauté, click on the Adjust button, and select More to activate the Sauté More function. This means that the food will be sautéed over medium-high heat. Wait for the Instant Pot indicator to read HOT.
  • Add the oil to the hot Instant Pot, add the diced onions and minced garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Add the carrots (plus celery-if using) and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot, except those listed in the "Garnish" section, and stir.
  • Using the manual function, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.
  • After 9 minutes, do a 5-minute natural release and a quick release after. Open the pot and stir.
  • Serve topped with scallions, parsley, and mozzarella cheese. Serve with crusty, warm bread on the side or grilled cheese.

Nutrition Facts

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I made this this week and it was really good! I had larger uncooked Italian meatballs in the freezer, a dozen, which I cut up in my bowl after serving to make more meatball bites! Also, don’t be hesitant about using chicken stock if that’s what you have, it worked very well. I didn’t have fresh parsley so used some dry with the rest of the seasoning. My husband said he could eat this every week! It is spicy, so adjust seasoning to your tolerance. I have one more bowl left, sans meatballs, which will be good all on it’s own for lunch today. Cheese is a bonus, but not necessary.

Camberly Slaughter

Camberly Slaughter

This soup was my first pressure recipe and I love it and using the pressure for first time went great



This is a keeper. Other than the meatballs (luckily I had some in the freezer), this is pretty much a pantry recipe. As I didn't want to go out in a blizzard, and had no marinara, I used a full small can of tomato paste and a small can of tomato sauce. Being lazy, I used a bag of frozen sliced carrots. I also added a little cayenne. Really good. I will make this again.



This is my favorite instant pot recipe so far! I added a little pasta the second time I made it and it was even better! Thanks so much for sharing it.

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