I introduced you to a giant meatball earlier this month, now it’s time to eat the miniature ones. They’re not just cute, they’re delicious!

You don’t need a stock to make this broth because you make it yourself.  Then, the vegetables come out of the pan, to serve as a side dish, and then meatballs, and pastina go in to turn this dish into a one pot meal!

Pastina is a miniature pasta, usually stars, or little rigatoni called dialtini.  Use the smallest pastina you can get your hands on – not couscous – and then cook in the broth according to package instructions.  If you can’t find any pastina, you can cut tagliatelle into little squares, or break spaghetti into small noodles.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger none 7 and 5 min. High(2) Normal

4.0 from 2 reviews
Mini Meatball Broth - pressure cooker one pot meal
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Serving size: 4
  • Calories: 412
  • TOTAL Fat: 19.6g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 23.2g
  • Sugar Carbs: 4.8g
  • Sodium: 1547.1mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 4.4g
  • Protein: 35.4g
  • Cholesterol: 168.2mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For the Miniature Meat balls:
  • 1 lb. (500gr) Ground Veal
  • ¼ cup ground Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
For the Vegetable Stock:
  • 6 cups (1.5 Liters) water
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in half
  • 2 medium potatoes, whole
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 onion halved
  • 3 tomatoes halved
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 8 oz. (250 gr). pastina
  1. In a large mixing bowl mix the veal, cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, and pepper.
  2. Using a melon-baller, dose out the right amount of meat mixture and make little meatballs. Make them smaller than you think you will need because they will almost double in size when pressure cooked.
  3. In the pressure cooker make the vegetable stock by adding all of the vegetables, water and salt in the pot.
  4. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.

    Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Lock the lid and cook for 7 minutes at high pressure.
  5. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure.
  6. Delicately remove out all of the vegetables and place on a serving dish except for the tomatoes (leave those in). If you see any tomato skins floating around, you can remove and discard those.
  7. Taste the broth and adjust salt and pepper according to taste.
  8. Gently add the miniature meatballs into the still hot vegetable broth.
  9. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.

    Electric pressure cookers and stove top pressure cookers: Cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
  10. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure.
  11. Put the pressure cooker, with the top off, back on the heat and add the pastina. Boil the pastina in the time indicated on the package (minus one minute). Don't worry, the pastina will keep cooking while you serve the dish.
  12. In the meantime, make a vinaigrette with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar by putting them in a small vase and shaking vigorously and pour on the vegetables you previously pulled out of the pressure cooker -- they are now your side dish!
  13. When the pastina is one minute away from being cooked, turn off the heat and serve your miniature meatball soup!

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  1. This soup with meatballs sounds really good…

  2. great article, just stumbled onto this blog and looks good so far

  3. Laura, both of these recipes sound like winners! Just one question about the bread crumbs in the meatballs: Are they dried bread crumbs or fresh? Flavored (Italian-style) or plain?

    Cooler weather is right round the corner in Atlanta, so these recipes will kick off a big soup-fest.


  4. Hi Rita! Thanks for the great questions. I have updated the recipe to say “plain” bread crumbs.

    While living in Austria, I discovered whole wheat bread crumbs – they are sooooo delicious that I often use those.

    You could use fresh but I think it would be very difficult to chop the bread finely enough to fit into such a small meatball. So, my recommendation is plain (or whole wheat if you can find them or make them), and dried.

    You won’t believe the flavor of the meatballs and the broth once you make them in your pressure cooker.

    Well.. since you have one, maybe you will!



  5. this looks delicious! very homey and comforting!

  6. This is one I will have to try, although, getting the veal might be a challenge.

  7. Hi Kuby, you can substitute any ground meat or ground meat blend for the veal. Just be aware of the differing fat content and flavor.

    Ground Turkey has a tendancy to be lean, so I would add more cheese. Ground pork is usually more fatty, so I would add an extra dash of breadcrumbs. Beef can be used in the same amounts.

    Happy cooking!


  8. I must have missed this recipe, because here it is April (and a cold one in SF) and I’m making a wintery dish! It turned out great except for two things… I shouldn’t have used Stelline b/c I think they’re a bit TOO small… and I didn’t seem to have as much liquid broth at the end. So either not enough liquid or too much pastina. But it was oh so delicious! Great quick comfort food.

  9. Ciao Tiff, You got it! This is the Italian “chicken noodle” soup!

    “Minestrone pasta” is also called pastina, but is much bigger – yet smaller than “short” pasta like penne, and fusilli and bigger than the smallest pastina. The best pasta to use for this dish look like short, miniature rigatoni but only 1/4″ long!

    I’m waiting for corn to come into season to make a nice chowder – perfect for a San Francisco summer!



  10. To make breadcrumbs, use your own choice of bread. Cut into slices (if need be) then leave them open all over your bench for a couple of hours or as long as needed till they feel stale. then break into pieces into a food processor, but don’t pack them in… they need space. Process until fineness desired is reached. Tip into plastic bag (use the one the bread came in if no holes), then proceed to do more if you have more pieces. Leave out what you need for the recipe and freeze the rest – yes, they freeze well. I put them into another bag for freezer protection.
    Great way of using up old bread and, yes, I do the crusts as well.

  11. Great tips Beverly, thanks for sharing!



  12. Sounds great – I have a few questions before I make it… you say to bring to pressure (several times), do you mean High or Low? Also can I use Panko Japanese bread crumbs instead of regular dried crumbs?

  13. Dear Anonymous, if pressure is not stated in a recipe it means High.

    I have substituted Panko for breading meat and veggies before they are fried but never in meatballs. I have not tried it so I cannot recommend it. What you are looking for is extra bulk and fluff from the breadcrumbs so that they are not a solid mass of meat. You obtain this by incorporating milk-soaked breadcrumbs. I don’t think Panko would give you the same results in this application.



  14. Laura –

    You say above ‘You obtain this by incorporating milk-soaked breadcrumbs.’ This step is not mentioned in the recipe. If if this is to be done, how much milk for 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and soak for how long?

    Thanks again.


  15. Ciao Nina, thanks for coming back to leave a follow-up comment. Sorry for the confusion.

    Traditional meatballs are made with breadcrumbs that are soaked in milk. This recipe omits this step because the meatballs are cooked in a broth – and the bread bulks-up with the liquid from the broth. Making them with milk-soaked crumbs for this recipe would make them too wet and cause them to fall apart during cooking.

    Again, I really do not know if Panko would act the same way when wet. You can always try it, the worst thing that will happen is that the meatballs will be a little dense!



  16. Thanks for the clarification Laura. I won’t use Panko in these meatballs – just regular crumbs as in the recipe.

  17. My kids ate this! Light and simple, I’ll make this again.

  18. Clarification – I assume you add the water with the vegs…your recioe only staes add the vegetables and the salt to the pressure cooker.

    1. Great catch! Yes, add the water as well. I have corrected the recipe.



  19. My kids (6 & 3)love this soup! Made it several times already.

  20. Hi Laura,
    I came here for the vegetable stock recipe but I think I might make the whole recipe.
    Once thing though, you say to use 3 Cups or 1.5 Litres of water. Should it be 6 Cups, or 750 ml water? (1 cup = 250ml)

    1. Scott, thanks for catching the type-o that would be 6 cups!!



  21. I just saw this recipe that you posted on Twitter and I thought I would check it out. If you didn’t want to add the pasta, could you put the meatballs in with all the vegetables and cook them in the liquid while the veggies are cooking?

    1. Absolutely, you can skip the pasta step!



      1. Thank you! Still use the 7 – 10 minute timing?

        1. Ann, the recipe has you make a mini-stock first, cook the meatballs second, and cook the pasta without pressure afterward. These tasks are separated because it will take a little longer to make a veggie stock and than it will to make the mini-meatballs. Adding the pasta at the end and cooking without pressure can be skipped as the mini-meatballs will be fully cooked by the second pressurization…. sorry if I made this sound much more confusing than it really is!!



          1. Oh, I see. I wanted to cook the meatballs along with the vegetables under the first pressurization. Would it be possible to do that? And, not do it in two steps?

            1. I thought I would go ahead and try cooking everything except the pasta together. I did that last night and it came out really good. I cooked orzo pasta for anyone who wanted that added to their soup, but it basically was a vegetable soup with meatballs in it. I think it was similar to Italian Wedding Soup minus the greens. I purposely made less soup/stock so I could freeze the extra meatballs for a later meal. It was good and my husband liked it. I used a 7 minute cooking time with about 8 minutes natural release.

  22. I am glad that I came to the website to clarify a few things that were missing in the Instant pot booklet for this recipe. I was interested in making the vegetable broth to use in another of your recipes from the same booklet. The recipe called for olive oil and balsamic but there was no further mention of them in the instructions.

  23. I just made your mini meatball soup. It was delicious but unfortunately the pastina absorbed all of the soup. Next time I will cook the pastina in a separate pot on the stove.

  24. I am currently trying to make this recipe, which came with my Instant Pot in the recipe booklet. I’m confused by the instructions stating to use high heat, then reduce to minimum. There is no temperature settings on the Instant Pot, only low pressure vs high pressure. Same with putting “back on the heat” without the lid to cook the pastina – would you use the sauté feature to do this?? Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Michelle, this recipe was originally written and posted on this website with instructions for only stovetop pressure cookers. It was updated in the booklet but not here – until now. You’ll find the instructions much more clear now, as there are specific things to do with your electric pressure cooker (which turns the heat up and down all by itself).



  25. Eight ounces of pasta?? I made this recipe according to instructions. It seemed like 8 oz. of pasta was a lot, but that’s what I used when making the recipe for two people planning for leftovers. By the time we’d finished eating (it WAS yummy), the remainder in the pot had congealed into a solid mass of pasta studded with meatballs.

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