Two bowls of Instant Pot Italian Meatball Soup with Fregola Pastas

Instant Pot Italian Meatball Soup with Fregola Pasta

Comfort food season gets extra comfy with this one-pot pressure cooker meatball soup.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword meatball soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Pressure cooker time 25 minutes
Total Time 52 minutes
Calories 340kcal
Author Karen Gibson


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or use spray oil)
  • 8 Carando Mozzarella Rustica Fresh Italian Style Meatballs (1 package)
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 medium/large onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (about 2 ribs)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 cup fregola pasta (uncooked) or other small pasta (see notes)
  • 1 big pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 piece parm rind (1" x 2") (optional)
  • salt and pepper

for garnish

  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
  • grated parm


  • Add oil the inner pot of the Instant Pot (or spray with spray oil).
  • Press the Saute button. The pot will begin to heat quickly and register "Hot" on the display, when ready.
  • Add the meatballs to the pot using tongs. Let them brown on one side for a couple of minutes, and then flip the meatballs to brown the other side. (Tip: squeeze the tongs lightly and twist gently, if they're sticking to the pan.) Remove to a bowl.
  • Turn off the unit (this is important - see Notes below)
  • Quickly deglaze the inner pot with a splash of red wine vinegar and a metal spatula. Don't leave meatball residue stuck to the pan (again, see Notes below)
  • Add the onions and celery and stir until softened. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and smoke paprika, stirring until combined.
  • Return the meatballs to the pot, along with the remaining soup ingredients (not the garnishes).
  • Close the lid and seal the vent. Set to manual high pressure for 12 minutes.
  • Let the cooking cycle complete, and allow pressure to natural release for 10 minutes. Then quick release (cover the vent with a towel to prevent the steam from damaging anything above the unit, such as cabinets, and, of course, your hand).
  • Carefully open the lid away from you. Stir the soup, and then find and remove the two bay leaves and the parm rind.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with garnishes. Serve immediately.


  • It's important to let the unit cool down just a bit after searing the meatballs by turning it off. Instant Pots have a tendency to generate a "Burn" warning when the pressure cook function is used immediately after something is sauteed in the inner pot. You won't lose any time doing this -- there will be plenty of heat to saute the onions and celery, and by the time aromatics have cooked, the unit will be plenty cool (although still quite hote) to proceed.
  • It's also important to deglaze the pot after removing the meatballs. Too much meatball residue stuck on the bottom of the pan during pressure cooking can trigger the Burn message. Just use a splash of vinegar (or even water) and a sturdy metal spatula. Deglazing also mixes the yummy fond right into the soup, so, it's a win-win all around.
  • If you can't find fregola, no problem. Use another small pasta, like ditalini or orzo. However, these pastas are more tender than fregola, so you'll have a better result by either cooking the pasta separately and adding at the very end; or, interrupting the pressure cooking process at the 8 minute mark, adding the dry pastas, and then finish the remaining time called for.


Calories: 340kcal