Meatball and Escarole Soup (a.k.a. Italian Wedding Soup)
February 8, 2016

ceramic plate from Fifty One and a Half


This soup hits the spot at this time of year.  This is such a delicious soup that makes a perfect marriage of meat and greens (hence the name Italian Wedding Soup).  There are so many versions of this soup it makes your head spin.  Some use rice, some add beans, some use pasta, most have beef meatballs, etc. etc.  Here is how I like to make it. 

First, I use pork for the meatballs. You can use whatever you like - turkey (which I've done), beef, a mixture of beef and pork, whatever.   And I grind it myself as some of you know.  It makes a nice fluffy mixture to work with and I know exactly what is in my meat mixture that way. I used pork shoulder for this - in the grocery store often they slice up this cut of pork into large strips and call it "Country Style Ribs".  It's a nice fatty flavorful cut of pork.  If you want something leaner, by all means use ground pork loin.  

If you've never had escarole, here is your introduction to this terrific green.  It's a member of the endive family, but is less bitter.  It is really nice in fresh salads, also. Give it a try. 

Meatball and Escarole Soup

for a printable recipe click here

serves 4 - 6

1 pound ground pork (or whatever meat you like)
¼ cup grated Parmigiano Regianno cheese plus more for serving
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ fresh breadcrumbs*
1 large egg, slightly beaten
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 
⅓ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely chopped carrots 
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 head fresh escarole, washed, chopped and cut into bite sized pieces (don't use the white part low on the head)
8 cups chicken broth 

* to make fresh breadcrumbs yourself, just take a little bread and throw it in your food processor and pulse.  Easy!  If you don't have a food processor, a box grater works fine, too.

for the meatballs

Make the meatballs:  Place the pork, cheese, parsley, breadcrumbs, egg, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper in a large bowl and gently mix all ingredients until blended.  Line a rimmed sheet pan with wax paper or plastic wrap and form the meat mixture into small meatballs, about a heaping tablespoon each. You should have about 20 meatballs.  Place on the sheet and let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

for the soup

Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Spray with some nonstick cooking spray and add about a tablespoon of the olive oil. Place half the meatballs in the oil and gently saute until golden brown.  Roll them around and brown on all sides.  Remove to a plate, add another tablespoon of the olive oil and add the other meatballs and brown the same way.  Remove the meatballs. Do not wipe out the pot.  Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and add the carrots and onions, gently sauteing for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about a minute more.  Add the escarole and cook, turning the greens, until they collapse a little.  Add the chicken broth and gently return meatballs to the pot.  Give the soup a stir, bring to a simmer, cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Taste and adjust for seasoning. I like to add more ground black pepper.  

Serve with additional grated Parmigiano cheese. 


Article originally appeared on The Italian Dish (
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