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 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.)
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.
- 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
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.
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!
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.Print
- 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
- 2 — 2 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
- Mince/grind the carrots, celery and onion in the *food processor (or by hand, if preferred).
- Put minced veggies in the bottom of a large stock pot or dutch oven.
- Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add beef stock.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. After the mixture begins boiling, reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes add the meatballs. Stir to separate and then allow to continue heating through for 15 minutes.
- 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.
- Serve warm with crusty bread and a big green salad.
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