SOUP WITH WINTER GREENS AND MEATBALLS
Zuppa con polpettine
Preparation - Difficult
Serves 4 - 6
A rich meat broth is a prerequisite for this soup, which is often served as a first course for the Christmas feast, especially in the Salento, at the bottom of the Pugliese heel.
Mixing bowl, large saucepan, frying pan, 2 soup plates.
- 1 lb very lean ground beef or veal
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup plus 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cups meat broth
- 2 bunches escarole, chard, or other winter greens
- about 1/4 cup flour
- 1 lb stale bread
- In a small bowl, mix together the ground meat, 1 egg, the 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 of the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs a few at a time.
- Bring the broth slowly to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Wash the escarole in several changes of water, then sliver the leaves and add the slivers to the meat broth to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes or until the greens are tender.
- Add the meatballs to the stock and continue to simmer until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes longer.
- While the meatballs are simmering, place the flour on a soup plate.
- In another soup plate, beat the remaining 2 eggs.
- Remove the crusts from the stale bread and cut it into cubes no larger than 3/4 inch. Roll the cubes in the flour, then in the beaten eggs.
- In a small sauté pan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil over medium-high heat and fry the bread cubes until they are golden brown on all sides. When they are done, drain on paper towels.
- To serve, put a few bread cubes and a few little meatballs in each plate, then pour the simmering broth over.
- If you wish, pass a bowl with more grated cheese to be added at the table.
Flavors of Puglia
Nancy Harmon Jenkins