Mini Meatball Minestra and Grilled Provolone

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.