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Italian Wedding Soup

The recipe for this ubiquitous soup was adapted from one I saw on Ciao Italia, a cooking show on PBS.  It traditionally has a thin broth made from either chicken or beef stock, tiny meatballs and greens, usually escarole, which is a mild flavored member of the endive family.  If escarole is unavailable you may substitute another mildly flavored green.  I'll sometimes use baby Bok choy.  You'll see many variations on this simple theme.  For instance I like to add orzo, a small pasta, for additional body.  It makes a delicately flavored broth with just a hint of nutmeg.

For the Meatballs
pound    ground veal
pound    ground beef
cup    parsley, minced
1 large    egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoons    lemon zest
teaspoon    grated nutmeg
cup grated Parmesan
to cup    bread crumbs
For the Soup
8 cups    chicken broth
2 cubes chicken bullion
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups    escarole, chopped
-1 cup    orzo (amount to your preference)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl large enough to hold all the meatball ingredients combine the mixture with your hands until everything is mixed.  With your hands loosely roll the mixture into marble-sized meatballs - don't roll them too tightly.  Place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking bring the broth to a simmer.  Add the pepper and bullion cubes and stir to dissolve them.  Add the orzo and return to a boil.  Reduce heat again to a simmer, add the greens and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the meatballs and allow to simmer 5 minutes more or until the orzo is al dente.

Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese for garnish.


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