I haven’t posted anything for Gratitude Friday for the past few weeks. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the life that I have and the people that are in it, it’s just that I haven’t been in the mood to write about the good things that surround me. I’m sure you can all understand going through times like that. I knew that I needed a little attitude adjustment and the best way to do that (besides expensive champagne) is to get together with girlfriends! So I’m doing just that-having two good friends for lunch. I decided to keep it very simple and knew that a comforting bowl of soup would be the perfect antidote for whatever has been ailing me.
I had homemade chicken broth in the freezer and a craving for meatballs so I went with this classic Italian recipe. Some may call it Italian wedding soup, but Domenica Marchetti calls it Minestra della Nonna in her great book the Glorious Soups and Stew of Italy, as her grandmother served it every time she visited.
Minestra della Nonna
For the meatballs
1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs*
1/2 cup whole milk, heated to warm
5 ounces ground beef
5 ounces ground pork
5 ounces ground veal
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* To make the breadcrumbs cut away the crusts from 3-4 thick slices Italian country bread. Tear into chunks and place in food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. You may have more than 1-1/2 cups.
For the soup
10 cups chicken broth
1 small head escarole, washed, trimmed and coarsely shredded
3 cups thin pasta noodles, broken into pieces
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
To make the meatballs combine the bread crumbs and milk and let sit for about 15 minutes or until the bread has absorbed all the milk.
In a large bowl combine the ground meats, milk-soaked bread, cheese, garlic, parsley and salt. Mix until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pinch off a piece, about a teaspoon, of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue to form the meatballs until you have used all of the mixture.
To make the soup bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepot over medium heat. Carefully add the meatballs and and escarole and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until meatballs are just cooked and greens are wilted. Stir in the pasta and let the soup boil until the pasta is cooked al dente. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and sprinkle with with cheese and be happy!
Makes 10 first-course servings.