All the flavors and textures of a meatball sub, now in a spoonable, drinkable form. Instant Pot Meatball Sub Soup is half the mess of a sub and, dare I say, twice the yumminess!
Today is day 1 of a TIDBITS tradition I plan on carrying on ’til pressure cooking loses it’s magic (so, forever). It’s a little thing I call . . .
Basically, for the entire miserably cold month of January, I’ll be posting my favorite Instant Pot soups and sides that make a Utah winter somewhat tolerable, might I even say, enjoyable. And I’m starting today off with a cheesy bang!
Allow me a pinky up moment: I’m not a messy eater, I just can’t. Images of juicy burgers dripping down arms, kids with chocolate cake all over their face, grown men with bibs covered in BBQ sauce . . . that makes some people drool, it makes me look for baby wipes.
Don’t worry, if you’re a messy eater, I still love and accept you. In fact, if you could save me from my unrealistic expectation that every area in my life needs to be clean and organized, I would probably be a much more enjoyable person to be around. My kids would thank you with many homemade crafts.
So this brings us to meatball subs. Oh, how I adore them especially when they have more sauce than actual meat which doesn’t lend well to non-messy-eater-lady over here.
What to do? Throw it in a bowl and eat it with a spoon, YES! Sign me up!
Thus the birth of this Instant Pot Cheesy Meatball Sub Soup. It is my dream come true and I dare say the messy eaters can enjoy this one too. I know, cause my 6 year old managed to get it all over the table and in his brother’s hair.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE A CHEESY MEATBALL SUB IN SOUP FORM
- It all cooks up in one pot! No need to precook the meatballs, just throw them in the Instant Pot to be infused with all that tomato-y flavor. You just saved yourself hours of greasy stovetop cleanup
- You get the rich, flavorful, herby tomato sauce, except you get a lot more of it with each and every bite when compared to a sub. For the girl who ate marinara sauce from a bottle when pregnant, this concept just speaks to my soul
- Tender, flavorful, bite-size meatballs get to play a starring role in this soup. I added spinach for some extra veg factor
- Brown Bubbly Cheese Bomb. This step is optional, but I highly suggest covering the top of your soup with stretchy mozz and nutty parmesan and throwing it under the broiler ’til browned. Hit it with a side of toasted baguette and there is absolutely no need for a spoon. Unless, again, you are a non-messy-eater
HOW TO MAKE EASY MEATBALL SOUP
- Make the meatballs. To keep meatballs moist, always soak your breadcrumbs in some milk. It works, I promise
- Add the rest of the meatball ingredients and lightly mix to combine (overmixing makes tough meatballs)
- Use a small cookie scoop for fast, equally sized meatballs
- Saute onions and garlic until soft (you’ll want the onions quite soft at this point since the pressure cook time for this dish is short and crunchy onions are gross)
- Add remaining soup ingredients and meatballs and start the Instant Pot
- When it’s done, fish out your parmesan rind (if you added one), add spinach. The heat of the soup wilts it very quickly.
All that’s left to make it the ultimate meatball sub soup is to top it with cheese and let it broil until ooey gooey and brown. Grab some bread and dunk, scoop, and repeat to your heart’s content.
If there are people in your life who still insist that soup is not a meal (cough, my husband, cough cough), let this soup prove to them that they are DEAD WRONG.
I simply can’t wait for you all to try this one! It’s officially shoved many of my all-time favorites down a place and I see many more batches of this in my very cold winter future.
- Add pasta! Find a pasta with a 10-12 minute cook time and add it to the pot with all the other soup ingredients
- Serve it French Onion Soup style by topping each bowl with a baguette slice or two, top with cheese, then place it under the broiler. This is AMAZING!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST MEATBALLS FOR SOUP
I discussed in depth how to make the best meatballs in general in this yummy Turkey and Sage Meatballs (AKA Thanksgiving Meatballs) recipe, and while all of those tips stand true, I have a few exceptions when it comes to meatball SOUPS like this one and this Spring Minestrone with Ricotta Meatballs.
- Don’t over mix your meat mixture. Think of it as the muffins of the meat world, the more you mix, the tougher they become
- Use lower fat meat. You can use ground beef, turkey, or chicken in this recipe, but do use a lower fat version of those meats. The meat will stay moist and tender when cooked in the sauce without making your soup really greasy
- Use a cookie scoop to form the balls. Evenly sized meatballs mean equal cooking times for all
- I typically advise to lightly pack meatballs, but since these ones will be cooking in the liquid, pack the balls a bit tighter so they don’t fall apart.
HOW TO COOK MEATBALLS FROM FROZEN IN THE INSTANT POT
To make this meal come together quicker the next time, make a double batch of meatballs and freeze half of them on a sheet pan lined with nonstick foil. Once frozen, add them to a freezer safe ziplock (or a foodsaver bag). The next time you make this soup, throw in the frozen meatballs and cook for 5 minutes instead of 3.
HOW TO PROPERLY FREEZE SOUP
This soup is ideal for freezing and is just as tasty.
- Cool soup down completely. This can be done quickly by placing the pot (the liner, not the entire Instant Pot) in a sink full of ice water, or, my favorite, in a pile of snow in the yard (covered with a lid if you have sneaky cats, deer, and wild turkeys about like I do). Stir every couple minutes to release the heat. This will take less than 10 minutes to properly cool it down.
- Once cooled, ladle or pour into gallon size freezer bags, let out excess air, then seal shut.
- Lay flat on a sheet pan to freeze. This will take up much less room in your freezer and it thaws quicker too.
HOW TO PROPERLY THAW SOUP
When ready to eat it, either let it thaw overnight in the fridge or place it in the pressure cooker with a 1/4 cup water or broth and hit it with 3-4 minutes of high pressure cooking. If it’s still cold after you release the pressure, just use the saute button to heat it all the way through. Another wonderful feature of the Instant Pot!
MORE SOUPS TO ADD TO YOUR “BEST SOUPS FOR WINTER” LIST
- Instant Pot Creamy Chicken and Corn Chowder
- Instant Pot Tomato Soup
- Instant Pot Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup
TOOLS USED TO MAKE INSTANT POT CHEESY MEATBALL SOUP
- Instant Pot
- Small Cookie Scoop
- Oven Safe Bowls (for broiling if desired) I typically use my Corningware, but technically you shouldn’t broil with those so I’ve had my eye on this cute set
Instant Pot Cheesy Meatball Sub Soup
One pot Cheesy Meatball Sub Soup made in minutes!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: Soup
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Italian
For the Meatballs
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (any breadcrumb is fine)
- 1/4 cup milk (any kind)
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or beef
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes (or 1 tablespoon chopped onion)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed by hand (optional, but delicious)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Soup
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small sweet or yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn (or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- small parmesan rind (optional)
- 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
- shredded mozzarella and parmesan for topping
For serving: toasted slices of baguette or french bread, Instant Pot Crusty Bread, or garlic bread
- In a large mixing bowl, combine panko and milk.
- Add ground meat, parmesan, egg, garlic, parsley, onion flakes, oregano, fennel, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Gently mix by hand until combined.
- Using a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons) form meat into tight balls. Set aside on a plate or piece of foil.
- Select saute on the pressure cooker and add oil. When hot, add onion and saute until softened, 4 – 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
- Add broth, crushed tomatoes, basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and parmesan rind (if using), stir.
- Gently add meatballs to the pot.
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 3 minutes.
- When cooking is complete, use a quick release.
- Remove what’s leftover from the parmesan rind and add spinach to the hot soup and stir in to wilt.
- To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- To really take it over the top, use oven safe bowls and place it under the broiler until the cheese is golden brown.
- Serve with toasted slices of bread for dipping and scooping!
- To make this a quick freezer meal, I like to double the meatball ingredients, form the meatballs, and freeze them on a sheet pan. Once frozen, place them in a freezer safe ziplock.
- When ready to cook, add meatballs to the soup ingredients and cook for 5 minutes instead of 3 minutes.
- You can also saute twice the amount of onions and garlic and freeze half of them as well so they are ready to simply throw into the pot with the cooking liquid and frozen meatballs.
- Use a low fat meat to prevent the soup from being overly greasy. Pack the meatballs tight so they don’t fall apart in the soup.
- Freeze leftovers by pouring them into a freezer safe ziplock, pressing out the air, and freezing flat. To prepare from frozen, let thaw overnight in the fridge or add frozen ingredients to the pressure cooker with 1/4 cup water or broth, then cook at high pressure for 3 minutes. Use saute to heat the rest of the way if needed.
Keywords: instant pot, meatball soup, easy soup
Recipe adapted from The Cookie Rookie Cheesy Parmesan Meatball Soup