Meatballs and Minestra

This mighty minestra is a meal in a bowl.


  • 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
  • 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces)
  • One can white beans (15 ounces), rinsed


Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.

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, 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons EVOO, two 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.

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