This meatball stew with orzo and white beans is hearty and incredibly full of flavour. It has a good dose of protein and loads of veggies, and it’s seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten!
It’s not often that you find a recipe so good that you only want to eat that for days on end.
This meatball stew with orzo and white beans is just that. Whenever I make it, I wish I’ve made more, even after having leftovers for two or three lunches.
Yes, it’s that good.
Besides being ridiculously delicious, this hearty meatball stew is also good for you. It packs a nutritional punch from all the veggies while also being loaded with protein from the meatballs and white beans.
I like to make it with skinny oven-baked meatballs I make myself using this recipe.
However, you can use any kind of meatballs you want, including veggie ones. You can also skip the meatballs altogether — the flavours are still amazing.
What goes into this Italian meatball stew?
Vegetables — A mix of onion, leeks, parsnip and celery gives loads of flavour and texture to this meatball stew. You can also add carrots or celeriac.
Garlic — Freshly chopped garlic is always best for this kind of stew.
Red chilli flakes — Feel free to increase the quantity if you’d like the soup to be a bit more fiery.
Orzo — You can substitute the orzo with stelline or another type of small pasta.
Lemon juice — I love lots of lemon juice in this meatball stew, but if you’re not a fan, you can reduce the amount or even skip it altogether.
Cavolo nero — Any kind of kale or even baby spinach will work well in this easy meatball stew recipe.
Meatballs — I use these oven-baked pork meatballs in this stew, but you can also use your favourite beef or beef and pork meatballs.
How to make meatball stew
Add the leek, parsnip and celery and continue to cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften.
Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and continue to cook for another minute.
Stir in the lemon juice and cavolo nero and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for another 2 minutes until the kale wilts.
Add the meatballs to the pan, season to taste and serve as is or with your favourite crusty bread.
Leftovers and storage
- You can store leftovers for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat the stew in the microwave or on the stovetop. You may need to add a bit of stock or water as the orzo will continue to absorb the liquid.
- I don’t recommend freezing this soup because the orzo will turn mushy after defrosting.
Recipe notes and tips
- To make this meatball stew vegan, simply use plant-based meatballs that you’ve baked in the oven for 10-12 minutes or according to the instructions on the package.
- You can bulk up the soup even more by adding one or two cubed potatoes with the veggies.
- The line between soup and stew is quite thin with this recipe. If you want it to be more like a soup, add two more cups of broth.
- Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew
- Spanish Fish Stew with Potatoes
- Spanish Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew
- Greek Peas Stew with Potatoes (Arakas Lathers)
- Brazilian Prawn Coconut Stew (Moqueca de Camarao)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
- 1 small parsnip, peeled and diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1 x 400 g (14 oz) cannellini beans
- 100 g (1 cup) orzo
- 1.25 litres (5 cups) chicken stock
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 100 g (3.5 oz) Cavolo Nero (Tuscan kale)
- 20 oven-baked meatballs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stockpot and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until it softens.
- Add the leek, parsnip and celery and continue to cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften.
- Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and continue to cook for another minute.
- Add the cannellini beans, orzo and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the orzo is al dente.
- Stir in the lemon juice and cavolo nero and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for another 2 minutes until the kale wilts.
- Add the meatballs to the pan, season to taste and serve as is or with your favourite crusty bread.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 612Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 567mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 8gSugar: 9gProtein: 21g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.