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Meatballs and Minestra

February 2010
Meatballs and Minestra

by 5 people

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This is a type of dish I call a stoup—thicker than soup and thinner than stew. Serve it in shallow bowls (it should look like a pile of beans and greens, with a little broth to spare and a few sausage meatballs on top) with crusty bread for mopping.

Makes: 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 handfuls grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more to pass around the table
  • A handful of dried currants
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced pancetta or prosciutto ends, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large head escarole, chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 32 ounce container  (4 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 15 ounce can  white beans, rinsed
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees . In a large bowl, season the pork with salt and pepper and mix in the cheese, currants, pine nuts and fennel seeds. Roll the mixture into 20 walnut-size balls, arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO. Roast in the oven until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes; stir in the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir in the escarole until wilted; season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the chicken stock and white beans, cover and bring to a simmer. Uncover and simmer for 5 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the meatballs.
  • Pair with: Rocca delle Macie Occhio A Vento Vermentino 2008 (Italy)