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Grandma’s Italian Meatball and Pea Stew

Nonna’s Italian meatball and pea stew always takes me back to my childhood in Sicily.

This dish is a true labor of love, combining tender meatballs with a flavorful pea and vegetable broth. 

This meatball and pea stew has been in my family for generations and always takes me back to cozy Sunday suppers. I had to share it with you all – it’s simply perfetto!

Meatball and Pea Stew in a pot


For the Meatballs:

Mince Meat: I love using ground pork and beef for my meatballs.

This blend works so well together, making the meatballs incredibly tender and juicy.

Egg: The egg is the glue that helps hold the meatball mixture together.

Parmesan Cheese: I like to use freshly grated Parmesan cheese in my meatballs.

You can also swap in pecorino cheese for a slightly sharper taste.

Breadcrumbs (or Softened Bread): Breadcrumbs or softened bread act as a binder, helping to create the perfect meatball texture. They absorb moisture and prevent the meatballs from becoming too dense.

Parsley, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper: These aromatics and seasonings are essential for infusing the meatballs with incredible flavor. 

For the Stew:

Peas: Depending on the season, I love using fresh or frozen peas in this stew.

Onions: White onions work wonderfully, but you can use any type you prefer. 

Carrots: I like to include carrots because they add a lovely burst of color and sweetness that balances the dish. However, you can certainly leave them out if you prefer.

Broth: I use beef broth like my nonna, but chicken or vegetable broth also works.

How to make Polpette with peas

Start by gently mixing the ground meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper until just combined. Overmixing can make the meatballs tough, so I handle the mixture delicately.

ground meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper

Then, form the mixture into small, bite-sized balls and carefully brown them in a hot skillet, careful not to cook them all through.

meatballs for the stew
meatballs for the stew

While the meatballs are searing,  turn the attention to the stew.

Sauté the onions and carrots until softened and fragrant, then add the peas and a flavorful broth. 

cook the peas with onion, carrots and broth

Once the meatballs have that beautiful golden-brown exterior,  gently add them to the simmering stew, cover, and let the flavors meld together for about 15 minutes.

This allows the meatballs to finish cooking and the stew to develop its rich, comforting essence.

Authentic Italian Meatball and Pea Stew

Best tips

  • To make perfect pea patties, all you need to do is choose good-quality ingredients. The tastier the peas, for example, the better. Let’s pick them fresh, but frozen will do just as well.
  • Adjust the broth consistency to your liking – add more if you prefer a thinner stew, or let it simmer longer for a thicker texture.
  • To get an even creamier sauce, lightly flour the meatballs before cooking them.


While I love this recipe as is, there are a few ways you can customize it.

One of my favorite variations is to add diced potatoes to the stew, which makes it even more hearty and comforting.

You can also experiment with the broth, using less for a thicker, stew-like consistency or more for a lighter, soup-like texture.

We can color the recipe by adding a few tablespoons of tomato puree or by dissolving some concentrate in the broth.

What to serve with meatballs

For me, this stew is a complete meal on its own.

However, I love pairing it with freshly baked ciabatta or garlic bread. If you have an air fryer, I highly recommend making garlic bread in it. It comes out perfectly crispy and delicious!

If you want to add another side dish, try a salad like this orange and fennel salad; it will add a fresh touch to the meal. 

How to store

One of the best things about this recipe is that it makes fantastic leftovers.

Any extra meatballs and stew can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

I love repurposing the leftovers by tossing them with freshly cooked pasta for a quick dinner or serving them over a bed of creamy polenta.

Authentic Italian Meatball and Pea Stew


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Yield: 4

Italian Meatball and Pea Stew

Italian Meatball and Pea Stew

Grandma's Italian Meatball and Pea Stew. Made with love, this delicious stew combines flavorful meatballs with peas and a savory broth.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb minced pork and beef
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Oil for cooking

For the Stew

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh peas
  • 3 cups of beef or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine the minced meat, eggs, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix everything together until well combined.
  2. Next, shape the mixture into small meatballs. Roll them gently between your palms, aiming for a uniform size.
  3. Now, it's time to cook the peas with carrots, onion, and broth. In a separate pot, add the peas, carrots, onion, and enough broth to cover the ingredients. Bring to boil and let it simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  4. While the peas and vegetables are cooking, it's time to cook the meatballs. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place the meatballs in the hot oil. Cook the meatballs until they develop a beautiful golden-brown color, but do not cook them thoroughly.
  5. Once the meatballs are the desired color, transfer them to the pot with the peas and vegetables.
  6. Cover the pot with a lid and let everything simmer for another 15 minutes. This will allow the meatballs to finish cooking and absorb the flavors of the stew.
  7. Serve hot.

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