Beans and Greens Soup with Sausage Meatballs
This hearty, tasty soup is loaded with vitamins and protein.
- 1 bundle broccoli rabe
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed (half a palmful)
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, such as Buon Italia
- Black pepper
- 5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
- 2 slices stale white bread, soaked in milk
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a couple of handfuls), plus more for topping; reserve rind for soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 head escarole, chopped
- A few grates of nutmeg
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained
- 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces)
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 cup small-cut pasta, such as mini penne, mezze rigatoni or orechiette (ear-shaped pasta)
- Blanch the broccoli rabe in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes, then cold shock, drain and reserve.
- Mix the pork with the fennel seed, red pepper, black pepper and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and crumble very fine into the bowl; add the egg and grated cheese. Mix to combine.
- Heat the EVOO in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the onion and the remaining garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the escarole and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Once the greens are wilted, add the stock, water and cheese rind and bring to a low boil.
- Roll the meat into balls and add to the soup. Cook for 5 minutes; add the pasta and cook to al dente. Stir in the beans and rabe and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Serve in bowls and top with grated cheese.