Mini meatball minestra and grilled provolone

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 110g pancetta, diced
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 heads escarole, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 (425g) can cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 L chicken stock
  • 720ml water
  • 450g ground beef, pork and veal, meat loaf mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 handfuls bread crumbs
  • Splash milk
  • A handful grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some to pass at table
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • A handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 100g mini penne or ditalini pasta
  • 1 lemon, zested, for garnish

1) In a heavy bottomed soup pot heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions and 2 cloves of garlic and saute 4 to 5 minutes then add the escarole and wilt. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in beans, add stock and water and bring to boil.

2) While stock comes to a boil, combine meat, egg, bread crumbs, milk, a handful of cheese, fennel, allspice, parsley, salt and pepper. Combine and roll into 2.5-cm balls, and add to the soup. Cook 2 minutes then add in pasta and cook 6 minutes more. Turn off the heat, garnish with lemon zest and serve with cheese passed at the table.

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