Dump frozen meatballs into chicken broth for a hearty Italian meal

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Nothing says "hearty" like a big bowl of pasta, meatballs and creamy garlic broth. This delicious meatball orzo stew is made in the slow cooker, so you can just set it and forget it as you go about your day. Mini cocktail meatballs are slow-cooked alongside orzo pasta in a creamy, garlicky broth topped with grated Parmesan cheese -- now that's what you call comfort food!
The recipe below calls for premade frozen meatballs to save you time and extra steps, but you can also use your favorite homemade meatball recipe to prepare about 40 meatballs approximately 1 inch in diameter. This dish makes a mouthwatering main meal on a cold night or would be an ideal appetizer for your favorite homemade Italian dinner. Make sure you don't add the orzo too early, or it may get overcooked in the slow cooker.
Cooktop Cove
Slow Cooker Creamy Meatball Orzo Stew
5 mins
5 hrs 30 mins
5 hrs 35 mins
40 mini meatballs, frozen or homemade, 1 inch in diameter
6 cups unsalted chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lightly spray the inside of your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Fill the slow cooker up with mini meatballs in one even layer, if possible.
Add the chicken broth, garlic, onion powder and thyme. Stir until all the flavors are incorporated.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low power for about 5 hours. Do not remove the lid during this time.
After 5 hours, remove the lid and add the orzo, heavy cream and grated Parmesan. Turn the power to high.
Cover again with the lid and allow stew to cook on high until the orzo is cooked al dente, about 30 minutes more.
Remove the lid, then taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Carefully remove thyme sprigs from the stew.
Serve directly from the slow cooker into individual bowls. Garnish with extra grated Parmesan cheese or fresh, chopped parsley and serve hot.
Pro-tip: Use unsalted chicken broth so you're able to better control the sodium that goes in the soup.
Pro-tip: Beef meatballs are traditionally used, but you could also use mini turkey or chicken meatballs for fewer calories.
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