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5 from 10 votes

Macaroni and Broccoli with Tiny Meatballs

Macaroni and broccoli with tiny meatballs is a comforting and nourishing soup made with elbow pasta, chopped broccoli, homemade meatballs, chicken stock, and plenty of Pecorino Romano cheese.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6


For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley minced
  • 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the soup

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 large head of broccoli chopped, see notes below
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock


For the meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 375f and set rack to middle level.
  • Mix together all of the meatball ingredients and form tiny meatballs about a 1/2 to 3/4-inch in diameter.
  • Place the tiny meatballs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until they reach 165f internal temp (about 15-20 minutes).

For the soup

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the chopped broccoli to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes or until tender.  When finished, set cooked broccoli aside making sure to not drain the boiling water.
  • Heat a large pot to medium-low and saute the garlic in olive oil until golden (about 2 minutes).  Once golden add the hot red pepper flakes.
  • Add the cooked broccoli to the pot and saute with the garlic for 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, add in the pasta and stir well. Cook the pasta until al dente then remove the pot from the heat source.
  • Add all of the meatballs to the pot along with the Pecorino Romano cheese and stir to combine. If needed use the reserved water from the broccoli cooking process to thin to desired consistency.
  • Taste test and adjust salt, pepper, and hot red pepper flakes to taste. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and more grated Pecorino Romano on the side. Enjoy!


  • Use most of the broccoli and cut it into chunks.  The only part that shouldn't be used is the very woody bottom part of the stems. 
  • The sauce consistency will get creamier the longer the broccoli cooks.  If you like the broccoli more firm just reduce the boiling time.  
  • Leftovers can be saved for up 3 days in the fridge.  Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.


Calories: 493kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.2g | Protein: 26.1g | Fat: 28.4g | Saturated Fat: 9.1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 679mg | Potassium: 431mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2.7g | Calcium: 144mg | Iron: 4mg