Well, actually it’s my weeknight Instant Pot version of Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
Almost Grandma’s Spinach & Meatballs
- Instant Pot/Pressure cooker – optional but the only way to get this on your table in under four hours!
- 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.
- 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
- ⅛ tsp baking soda Optional, but you should try it! I think it reduces the acidity of the tomatoes slightly.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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!
*Disclaimer – Grandma’s Spinach and Meatballs doesn’t actually have “magical healing qualities” but it is nutritious, or at least I think it is.