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Best Meatball Stew Recipe | Hearty, Delicious Comfort Food

My Best Meat­ball Stew Recipe will fill your home with warm, spicy aro­mas and make enough to feed a crowd. A beau­ti­ful­ly sea­soned, rich toma­to and aro­mat­ics broth forms the base of this fill­ing meal. The star of the dish is def­i­nite­ly the spicy meat­balls, though. And, pas­ta is per­fect in the sup­port­ing role.

Meatball Stew
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Meat­ball Stew will warm you from head to toe on cold win­ter days and become a fam­i­ly favorite com­fort food sup­per from the very first time that you serve it. 

This recipe uses the scrump­tious­ly beefy and spicy meat­balls I taught you how to make back in 2019. Pull some of those tasty lit­tle orbs from the freez­er to get the max­i­mum fla­vor from this deli­cious, com­fort-food stew. Using pre-made meat­balls also means this recipe comes togeth­er quick­ly. (You can sub in com­mer­cial frozen meat­balls, but the fla­vor will def­i­nite­ly not be the same.)

scrumptious savory meatballs

If you’re look­ing for hearty, DELISH com­fort food that comes togeth­er in under an hour, your search is over, my friend. My Meat­ball Stew will be a wel­come addi­tion to your recipe collection.

Enjoy!

The Ingredients

frozen homemade meatballs
  • Frozen Meat­balls: I won’t even mince words, here. My Home­made Meat­balls are the most deli­cious you will ever enjoy. They will be the dif­fer­ence between this Meat­ball Stew being good or being extra­or­di­nary. I encour­age you to make a batch and always have them on hand in the freez­er for this and oth­er quick-fix recipes. If you have a favorite com­mer­cial brand, those will work, too. I can’t guar­an­tee the fin­ished prod­uct will be as fla­vor­ful, however.
  • Pas­ta: Any small pas­ta. I used dital­i­ni, but small shells could work, too.
  • Beef Stock
  • Beef Base (or bouil­lon cubes): I use Bet­ter than Bouil­lon Beef Base.
  • The Aro­mat­ics: Onions, cel­ery, car­rots and gar­lic are almost always the base lay­er of build­ing savory fla­vor into soups and stews in my kitchen.
  • Canned Toma­toes: I use whole, peeled toma­toes and crush them in my hand as I add them to the Meat­ball Stew pot. Diced toma­toes are often fine in quick recipe prepa­ra­tions like this one. How­ev­er, I am real­iz­ing more and more as I cook, that canned diced toma­toes are left over bits and pieces, more often than not. You’ll see a dis­tinct col­or dif­fer­ence between whole and diced. Whole are deep red, while diced are pale in com­par­i­son. And, the fla­vor is sim­ply bet­ter in whole peeled toma­toes.  Whole peeled toma­toes also break down more eas­i­ly in the recipes you’re cook­ing. Diced have cal­ci­um chlo­ride added. That helps them retain their shape, even dur­ing cook­ing. They sim­ply don’t break down as eas­i­ly as the whole ones do.
  • Toma­to Sauce
  • Sea­son­ings: Bay Leaf, Ital­ian Sea­son­ing, Salt and Pepper
  • option­al: Chopped Kale

Prepping the Vegetables

ground veggies in stock pot for making Meatball Stew

How you prep your veg­gies for Meat­ball Stew is going to depend on how your fam­i­ly likes them in soup. If I’m mak­ing veg­etable soup, then I slice and chop the veg­eta­bles in larg­er chunks and pieces to make them the star of the bowl. But, for my fam­i­ly, I typ­i­cal­ly hide all the exquis­ite fla­vor and nutri­tion of veg­gies in the broth of my soups and stews. 

In this recipe the meat­balls get top billing, but the pas­ta is a close sec­ond. Most of my fam­i­ly would turn up their noses at hav­ing large pieces of veg­eta­bles float­ing around with them. No wor­ries, though. My solu­tion to not los­ing one gram of the nutri­tion and fla­vor that veg­gies bring to the table is to grind/mince them in my *food proces­sor [affil­i­ate link].

By adding them to the pot in such a tiny form, they lit­er­al­ly melt into the sim­mer­ing broth and no one even knows they’re there. Win for vit­a­mins and min­er­als; and win for pleas­ing every palate.

So you decide what works best for your fam­i­ly. This recipe was prepped with all the veg­gies minced up fine. And there are more than TWO pounds of them! It’s deli­cious stew, friends!

How to Make Meatball Stew

Start by prep­ping the veg­eta­bles. I had to do two batch­es in my food proces­sor. I put the veg­gies in raw, with no added any­thing (not even a drop of water). The food proces­sor lit­er­al­ly ground them for me. P.S. You can add oth­er veg­gies, too. Do you have a bell pep­per or some zuc­chi­ni that need used? Add them. It only adds more fla­vor and health-build­ing nutri­tion. Go for it!

When the car­rots, cel­ery and onions (the stan­dard veg­gie base of every soup I make) are minced, put them in a soup pot or Dutch oven with salt, pep­per, Ital­ian sea­son­ing, minced gar­lic and a bay leaf.

Then add the toma­toes and toma­to sauce. I pre­fer whole peeled toma­toes that I crush into very small pieces, by hand, as I add them to the Meat­ball Stew pot. I feel that they have supe­ri­or fla­vor to oth­er pre-chopped vari­eties. That being said, petite diced toma­toes work in this recipe, too.

Final­ly, stir in the beef broth and bouil­lon. As you can see in the pho­to, above, my 4 quart dutch oven was­n’t big enough to han­dle this recipe. There aren’t even meat­balls or pas­ta in there, yet. At that point, I trans­ferred to my favorite *stock pot [affil­i­ate link] and every­thing worked a lot easier. 

The Cooking

Begin cook­ing the broth on high heat until it comes to a boil. Once it’s boil­ing, reduce the heat to medi­um and allow the broth and veg­gies to sim­mer for about 30 min­utes. At the end of 30 min­utes you could put your broth through a blender (I use a *stick blender [affil­i­ate link] for those kinds of jobs.) for 100% smooth­ness, but I find that the major­i­ty of veg­gies have already “dis­ap­peared” and for our tastes, sim­ply isn’t necessary.

Add the meat­balls, (it’s okay if they’re frozen), and let them start warm­ing through for about 15 min­utes. Then add your pasta.

I use Dital­i­ni Pas­ta in Meat­ball Stew. Any shape of small pas­ta should be good, how­ev­er. The small shells would prob­a­bly be good, too.

Con­tin­ue to sim­mer the Meat­ball Stew on medi­um heat, until the pas­ta is cooked al dente (soft, but with a lit­tle bite to them — not mushy).

Serve your stew with some crusty bread and a big green sal­ad. This is the din­ner that all of us want to come home to on cold win­ter nights. Hav­ing meat­balls pre-made and wait­ing in the freez­er, makes it simple.

Enjoy, my friend!

Meatball Stew

The Leftovers

This soup will keep in the fridge for at least 5 days. Like most soups and stews, the fla­vor gets even bet­ter the longer it sits. The pas­ta has a ten­den­cy to soak up more and more broth, though, so it becomes real­ly thick. It WILL heat up in the microwave, that way. My per­son­al pref­er­ence, though, is to thin it with a lit­tle beef stock or water before I reheat mine, so I can enjoy it in a lit­tle more “soupy” form.

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Meatball Stew

Best Meatball Stew


  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 55 min­utes
  • Yield: 10-12 serv­ings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb car­rots, minced
  • 6 stalks cel­ery, minced
  • 2 lg (or 3 medi­um) onions, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1 (14.5 to 18.3 oz) can/jar toma­toes; whole peeled crushed by hand as you add them or petite diced
  • 3 (8 oz) cans toma­to sauce
  • 1 Table­spoon beef base (I use Bet­ter than Bouil­lon brand. You could sub­sti­tute 2 beef bouil­lon cubes.)
  • 1 Table­spoon minced garlic
  • 1 Table­spoon Ital­ian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tea­spoon salt
  • 1 tea­spoon black pepper
  • 22 1/2 lbs frozen meat­balls (at least 30) from my recipe (Buy a bag of frozen if you for­got to make these.)
  • 1 lb small pas­ta (I use dital­i­ni, but small shells would also work)
  • option­al: 1 or 2 cups of chopped kale to stir into the indi­vid­ual bowls of those who like it

Instructions

  1. Mince/grind the car­rots, cel­ery and onion in the *food proces­sor (or by hand, if preferred).
  2. Put minced veg­gies in the bot­tom of a large stock pot or dutch oven.
  3. Add toma­toes, toma­to sauce, bay leaf, Ital­ian sea­son­ing, salt and pepper.
  4. Add beef stock.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat.  After the mix­ture begins boil­ing, reduce the heat to medi­um and allow to sim­mer for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 min­utes add the meat­balls. Stir to sep­a­rate and then allow to con­tin­ue heat­ing through for 15 minutes.
  7. Stir in the pas­ta and allow to con­tin­ue cook­ing until pas­ta is cooked to al dente.  Stir fre­quent­ly to pre­vent the pas­ta from stick­ing to the bot­tom of the pan and scorching.
  8. Serve warm with crusty bread and a big green salad. 

Notes

I LOVE chopped kale stirred into a bowl of this stew.  But, some of my fam­i­ly mem­bers are not real­ly fans.  So, I chop it and set it along­side the soup pot.  Those that want it can stir it into their bowl as they ladle it in.  The kale will warm and soft­en quick­ly right in the bowl.

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Soup, Stew
  • Cui­sine: Ital­ian

Key­words: meat­balls, pas­ta, stew

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