Family Recipes! Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs!

Grandmas Spinach and meatballs

Well, actually it’s my weeknight Instant Pot version of Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs.

Spinach and Meatballs in Pyrex fridgie

It all started several years ago, at least a decade ago, on Thanksgiving, or maybe it was Easter??? Anyway, I woke up sick as a dog… like fever, laying on the couch with an ice bag on my head sick. Husband called his parents to let them know we wouldn’t be going to family dinner, even though I told him to go ahead without me. That’s true love folks! I don’t recall the conversation he had with his mom, but it required pen and paper, and prompted him to go to the store.

Four pounds of spinach

He arrived home with four pounds of spinach, some tomatoes and ground chicken and announced he was making me Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs. My initial reaction was actually “EEW?!” but I was so happy not to be left alone to fend for myself, and it was so sweet of him! Isn’t it weird how a sick day holiday turned into a cherished memory?

Jump to Recipe

Having made the recipe a million times now, I can tell you that if I could have used my sense of smell that day, the whole house would have been filled with the delightful aroma of homemade meatballs and simmering tomatoes. I just KNOW this soup has healing powers because by the time I finished my first bowl, I felt better already!

Four pounds of spinach

I think Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs has magical healing powers!

This is the kind of recipe that I assumed only the perfect amounts of time and love could make.

This is my Instant Pot version. It still takes time, but the pre-made meatballs and frozen spinach and using the instant pot speeds things up significantly.

Frozen meatballs and packages of spinach

Use your favorite frozen meatballs. I like chicken, but beef, turkey or even meat substitute balls would work nicely! The soup is really only as good as the meatballs. If you have time to make them homemade, pan-fried or baked until golden brown first, go ahead! This isn’t a post about homemade meatballs so I’ll continue…

Set the IP to high pressure for 12 minutes
Add the frozen spinach and toss in a parmesan rind for extra flavor

I like using fire roasted and diced tomatoes, but any diced or stewed tomatoes will work. The Instant Pot allows you to cook the tomatoes and meatballs together much more quickly than simmering for hours on the stove. It does take some time for the Instant Pot to pressurize.

Four pounds of fresh spinach
You can totally use fresh clean spinach, just add it in after pressure-cooking the tomatoes and meatballs. This image is from my stove top simmered all day version!

After I pressure cook the onions, garlic, meatballs and tomatoes, I set the Instant Pot to sauté and allow it to simmer for more thirty minutes.

Simmer on Saute for thirty minutes stir frequentl
Simmer for thirty minutes stirring gently and frequently
It’s kind of ugly, but oh so delicious! This is after pressure cooking in the Instant Pot.
Simmering Spinach and meatballs
This is what it looks like with fresh spinach simmered on the stove.

Although the Instant Pot frozen meatballs and spinach version is really, really good, it’s just not the same as when it’s made with homemade broth, meatballs and fresh spinach. But I made this after work and we had it for dinner. I would never attempt to make it all homemade on a weeknight!

Instant Pot Spinach and Meatballs
Instant Pot Version
Grandmas spinach and meatballs with parmesan
Simmered on the stove version with fresh spinach and homemade chicken, beef & parmesan cheese meatballs.
Grandmas Spinach and meatballs

Almost Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs

I call this "Almost Grandma's Spinach and Meatballs" because this is my Instant Pot version! I've turned Grandma's recipe that takes hours to simmer on the stove to perfection, into an Instant Pot or weeknight meal!
0 from 0 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 325kcal
Author: ebookfoodie

Equipment

  • Instant Pot/Pressure cooker – optional but the only way to get this on your table in under four hours!

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil To saute onions and garlic
  • 1 onion Chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves Minced, more or less depending on how much you like.
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 14 oz low sodium chicken broth Or homemade! If you have homemade stock it will make this even better! (If you are cooking on your stovetop, you may need an additional can since it will cook down.)
  • 58 oz Hunts fire roasted tomatoes That's x4 – 14.5oz cans
  • 24 oz chicken meatballs One bag, frozen
  • 36 oz Frozen cut leaf spinach I used four boxes of frozen spinach. Four pounds of any spinach will do. If using fresh, add it after pressure cooking.

Optional

  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese Grated or finely shredded. Asiago is also awesome, or a combination! Completely optional, but tops off the soup & makes it extraordinary!
  • 1/4 cup table wine (to deglaze the pot)
  • 1 Parmesan rind Optional but adding a Parmesan cheese rind to soups gives it an amazing depth of flavor. Try it!
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • tsp baking soda Optional, but you should try it! I think it reduces the acidity of the tomatoes slightly.

Instructions

  • Have all your can's opened and ready to go. This entire recipe will fit in your 6 quart pot. Add olive oil to your Instant Pot, press sauté and set for ten minutes. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and sauté until soft. (Or use a stainless or non-reactive dutch oven.)
  • Add the garlic and tomato paste and continue stirring until the tomato paste starts to cook and darken. Stir constantly until fragrant. About a minute.
    Add onions garlic and tomato paste
  • Deglaze the pan with wine, chicken broth or some juice from the tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pot to lift up any browned bits.
  • Stir in four cans of tomatoes. Use a little broth to get the bits out of the bottoms of the cans and add the entire can of broth.
  • Add 1 bag/box of spinach and press down into the soup.
  • Add the entire bag of meatballs and press down into the soup. If using the Instant Pot, be careful to make absolutely sure not to go over the fill line!
  • Add in your parmesan cheese rind if you have one. Trust me, this adds a ton or flavor.
    Add the frozen spinach and toss in a parmesan rind for extra flavor
  • Add one more bag/box of spinach. Press down if possible. Remember, if you are using the Instant Pot, be careful to make absolutely sure not to go over the fill line!
  • Place lid on Instant Pot and set valve to sealed position. Pressure cook for 12 minutes on high pressure. (Or simmer stirring frequently and gently for at least 1 hour on the stove or until tomatoes are cooked through and soup has reduced slightly. If you cook on the stovetop, you may need to add another can of broth.)
  • When the timer goes off, wait five minutes, turn off Instant pot and do a quick release.
  • Stir gently. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
  • Add the tiny pinch or about 1/8 tsp of baking soda and stir. If you add too much it will get weird, so only use a tiny pinch.
    baking soda
  • Turn Instant Pot on sauté for 30 minutes. Add in the final 2 bags/boxes of spinach. Periodically stir it gently.
  • Serve 3 meatballs per person with the spinach and tomatoes. I strongly recommend that you top it off with a generous tablespoon of fresh grated or shredded parmesan cheese!

Notes

We have Grandmas’ Spinach & Meatballs at least 4 times a year. Traditionally we make it with homemade chicken and parmesan meatballs and fresh spinach. It’s so worth it, but it takes quite a bit of time! The soup/stew takes lots and lots of love and time to simmer down gently on the stove so that the tomatoes and broth and meatballs all meld together into something magical. Using homemade chicken stock or broth takes it one step further! I always have some frozen! 
I use these Hunt’s fire roasted tomatoes, but any stewed or diced, or even fresh tomatoes will work!

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 1055mg | Potassium: 565mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 15891IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 372mg | Iron: 6mg
Nutrition Facts
Almost Grandma's Spinach & Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 325 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 1055mg46%
Potassium 565mg16%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 15891IU318%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Calcium 372mg37%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

*Disclaimer – Grandma’s Spinach and Meatballs doesn’t actually have “magical healing qualities” but it is nutritious, or at least I think it is.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Family Recipes! Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs!

So, what do you think? Please comment below!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.