Mini Meatball Minestra and Grilled Provolone
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 pound 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 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 3 cups water
- 1 pound 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 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- A handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup mini penne or ditalini pasta
- 1 lemon, zested, for garnish
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.
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 1-inch 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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