Soup with Winter Greens and Meatballs: Zuppa con Polpettine

Total Time:
3 hr 5 min
30 min
Inactive Prep:
2 hr 35 min
6 to 8 servings


  • 1 pound very lean ground lean meat (a combination of veal and pork)
  • 1 egg, plus 2 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated caciocavallo, or pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 6 cups Brown Chicken Stock, recipe follows
  • 2 bunches escarole, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound stale bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    • Directions

      In a small bowl, combine ground meat, 1 egg, bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley, garlic, a pinch of salt, and black pepper. Form into meatballs about the size of a walnut. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12 to 14-inch saute pan over medium heat and brown the balls, working in batches.

      In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the escarole and cook 7 to 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer 10 minutes more, or until meatballs are cooked through.

      Place the flour in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs. Roll the bread cubes in the flour, then in the beaten eggs.

      In a 10-inch saute pan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup oil over medium-high heat and fry the bread cubes until golden brown on all sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.

      Divide the hot stock, meatballs and bread cubes among 6 to 8 warmed soup bowls and serve, garnished with extra grated cheese, if desired.

      In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until smoking. Add all the chicken parts and brown all over, stirring to avoid burning. Remove the chicken and reserve. Add the carrots, onions, and celery to the pot and cook until soft and browned. Return the chicken to the pot and add 3 quarts of water, the tomato paste, peppercorns, and parsley. Stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned chicken and vegetables bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat and cook at a low simmer until reduced by half, about 2 hours, occasionally skimming excess fat. Remove from heat, strain, and press on the solids with the bottom of a ladle to extract out all liquids. Stir the stock to facilitate cooling and set aside. Refrigerate stock in small containers for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

      Yield: 1 1/2 quarts