This (Instant Pot) Pressure Cooker Spring Minestrone with Ricotta Chicken Meatballs is a refreshing bowl of bright sunshine! Loads of veggies and everything can be whipped up together in the same pot!
Definition of Spring found in the TIDBITS dictionary: A breath of sweet, refreshing air that invigorates your mind, body, and soul after a cold, dreary winter.
So to celebrate this light jacket and flowers blooming season, I whipped up this soup and it is the very definition of spring time in a bowl. Lemony bright broth, veggies to the max, light, tender meatballs, and whole grain penne all cooked up together in 1 pot!
I mean, would you just look at this! Just looking at it makes me feel 10 years younger, well rested, and completely tolerant of super hyper, obnoxious twin boys making crude noises in the background at this very moment in an attempt to get my attention.
When asparagus starts taking over the produce department it’s a clear sign of warmer weather to come. I’ve cooked with it at least 3 times this week alone and am proud to say my kids even ate an asparagus cream soup I made, which thrills me more than salted chocolate.
A couple of notes on this recipe to make sure it’s a total success:
- Don’t be shy with the herbs and lemon. They compliment the broth and other ingredients so well, add them with abandon.
- The meatballs are very light due to the addition of ricotta. From my experience they really held up the best when I froze them for at least an hour. You can try it without freezing them, but I was really happy with how it turned out as written. If you want the soup more veggie dominant, you could even keep half of the meatballs in the freezer for another time.
- Use pasta that calls for a 10-12 minute cook time and go for whole grain. You can use just about any shape of pasta you want as long as it closely matches this cook time.
Now go throw this soup in your pressure cooker and spend all that free time you gained leaping joyfully across your snow free yard! Don’t worry a bit about critical neighbors. Just invite them to join you in your spring dance and a big bowl of Spring Minestrone. You’ll become friends for life.
If you own Cami and I’s cookbook, Master the Electric Pressure Cooker, the Spring Green Risotto is also a knock out recipe for this season!
Also on the blog, the Magic Sunshine Soup just looks like a bright sunny day (hence the name!)
Tools used to make Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Spring Minestrone with Ricotta Chicken Meatballs
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Spring Minestrone with Ricotta Chicken Meatballs
Bright, light soup perfect for spring
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 -8 servings
For the Ricotta Chicken Meatballs
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (can substitute with any bread crumb)
- 2 tablespoons milk (any kind)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
- 1 pound lean ground chicken
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best)
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Soup
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium size carrots, sliced into wide discs
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 2 leeks, whites and light greens sliced in half then cut into thin moons (about 1 cup)
- 1 1/2 -2 quarts low sodium chicken broth, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- parmesan rind (optional, but delicious)
- 6-8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta (or other pasta with about a 10-12 minute cook time)
- 1 pound asparagus,woody end trimmed and discarded, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups spinach, choppped
- 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (my favorite was a mix of basil and dill)
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- For serving: lemon wedges and shaved parmesan
For the Ricotta Chicken Meatballs
- Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and allow to soak for 1-2 minutes until the crumbs are moist. Add ricotta, ground chicken, egg, parmesan cheese, chives, parsley, salt, and pepper. Use hands or a spatula to evenly combine the mixture.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil. Use a small cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoon scoop) to make small meatballs and place them on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer. It’s best if they can freeze for at least an hour prior to cooking.
For the Soup
- Preheat the pressure cooker by selecting saute. Add the butter and olive oil. When butter is melted and slightly bubbling, add carrots, onions, and leeks and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1 quart of chicken broth, salt, pepper, parmesan rind, and pasta; stir. Arrange the frozen meatballs on top in a circular pattern, staying in a single layer as much as possible.
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place asparagus in a microwave safe bowl with about 1/2 cup water. Microwave 2-3 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
- When pressure cooking is complete, use a quick release. If pasta foam sprays from the valve, flip the knob to a sealed position for 5 minutes, then release the pressure.
- Remove and discard the parmesan rind. Select saute and add the asparagus, frozen peas, spinach, herbs, and zest and juice of 1 lemon. Add up to 1 quart of chicken broth, depending on how you like it. Heat until warmed through and the spinach is wilted. Season with extra salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve hot with lemon wedges and shaved parmesan.
Freezer Meal Instructions:
- As mentioned in the notes, the meatballs could easily be made in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to make the soup. I haven’t tried it, but I don’t believe the soup would freeze well because of the pasta.
- If you want more veggies than meat, simply freeze half of the meatballs for another time.