Bobby Spatucci's White Bean & Escarole Soup with Chicken Meatballs

Mary Ann Esposito

Another fine recipe I remembered from my Nona Frances Antoinette Soden (Spatucci). This one is perfect for fall: it's hearty, healthy and filling and DELICIOUS!

STEP ONE

1/4 cup chopped Pancetta or smoked Slab bacon, cut into very small cubes
1 medium onion chopped
*1 tablespoon of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive oil, just to sauté the onions and the pancetta
2 tablespoons of minced or finely chopped garlic
1 cup of good dry white wine (If you drink it, cook with it, NEVER use those "cooking wines"; they contain too much sodium and when cooking with wine, you are concentrating the flavor.)
2 1-pound cans of cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained, or you can soak dried beans overnight as long as you have 2 pounds of beans
2 boxes of chicken stock or 32-ounces of fresh chicken or vegetable stock; beef may be used for beef meatballs, veal for veal meatballs etc.
1 head fresh escarole, washed and chopped into bite size pieces. You can use canned, but fresh adds much more flavor and vitamins. (Some stores sell cans of soup stock with escarole in it already. These may be used, but fresh is better.) Spinach also works; if you can't find escarole, any fresh hearty green will do.
1 tablespoon parsley, fresh or dried, both are fine
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, fresh or dried
**1 pound of cooked chicken meatballs
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Start sautéing in your soup pot the 1/4 cup of chopped pancetta or smoked slab bacon, trim as much fat as you want off, it's just for the flavor. Add the olive oil and the onion. When the onion is almost brown, add the garlic. Sauté until all are just soft and lightly brown; don't over cook the garlic. Then de-glaze the pan with the white wine, let it cook down, getting all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Next add the beans and stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the escarole; let simmer until escarole is soft and cooked all the way through, about 45 minutes. Add the meatballs for the last 15 minutes of cooking time. Garnish and enjoy.

Garnish---There are a few schools of thought here, I usually garnish with some Parmesan cheese, chopped roasted red peppers and some toasted pignoli nuts. But any garnish that you like would be fine.

CHICKEN MEATBALLS

1 pound ground chicken
2 cups of seasoned breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic
1 teaspoon parsley
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then form tiny meatballs by hand, about the size of a large marble. Roll them in breadcrumbs. Gently fry the meatballs, turning once, and then preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place the meatballs on a baking tray and place them in the oven to finish cooking for about 15 minutes until they are cooked all the way through. Chicken meatballs tend to be stickier than regular meatballs, so use a spoon with olive oil on it and rub your hands with olive oil when you are rolling them.

*My Nona would get into trouble in the olive oil aisle at the local store. She would open them up and rub the oil on her hands to smell it, the more fragrant and green the oil, the better the flavor in your food! She would have many an argument with the owners of the store about the quality of his olive oil and/or the fact that she would open so many bottles till she found the right one.

To see what Bobby is up to, check his web site:
Bobby Hedglin-Taylor--Aerialist/Theatrical Aerial consultant/Aerial Trainer
(http://www.geocities.com/roberthedglin/)

item recipe is featured in Episode 0 of Season 0.

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