A Nice Little Italian Minestrone
This is called an Italian minestrone — which usually means whatever you have in the fridge made into a soup — and it is a wonderful soup for those occasionally cool rainy days that still show up in April. This came originally from a Bon Appetite article I saw, probably four or five years ago, and with a little tweaking, became a fast friend at my house, at least.
The base for this soup is relatively easy, and it’s very good in just about every situation I can think of. But what’s great, is there are a whole host of other things you can add, which only make it better. I’ve use a little broccoli, some asparagus, some spinach (added late in the soup) and a few other things. I’d stay away from zucchini (courgette) for this recipe, mainly because it drastically changes the taste, but otherwise — go for it. I tend to like the leeks and carrots in this soup. You might try scallions or better yet shallots instead of the leeks, but keep the carrots.
And for the pasta, main thing is to keep it small, little pasta leaves, ditalini, small shells. Just small.
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 6 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
- 1 large egg, whisked to blend
- Sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
- 2 garlic cloves cut into thin slices
- 5 cups chicken broth (use salt-free or pay close attention to salt used elsewhere)
- 3/4 cup small pasta
- 1 cup carrots
- 1 cup baby spinach
- Chopped fresh basil for garnish
- Mix chicken, breadcrumbs, 3 Tbsp. Parmesan, 2 minced garlic cloves, chives, egg, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl. Form into 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs.
- Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat. Cook meatballs until golden all over, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside.
- Add leek to pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves; cook for 1 minute. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and carrots; simmer until pasta is almost al dente, about 8 minutes. Add meatballs; simmer until pasta is al dente, carrots are tender, and meatballs are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and remaining 3 Tbsp. Parmesan; stir until spinach is wilted and Parmesan is melted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan.