Thursday, January 19, 2012

Soul-satisfying Chicken Meatball and Escarole Soup

It was just what the doctor ordered for my husband: A steaming bowl of delicious, comforting soup.
   My husband was in the throes of a major head cold this past Sunday night when the two of us worked together to make Chicken Meatball and Escarole Soup (click for the recipe) from Fine Cooking magazine.
   It was ideal in so many ways: It soothed his cold, it was quick to make, and it was completely and utterly delicious.
   (While I was enjoying the soup, little did I know that I was due for ickiness shortly after. Just when my husband started feeling better, I started feeling crappy, and ended up spending time home from work also getting over a head cold.)
   The secret to this soup, my husband and I theorize, is the cooking of onion, carrot and celery, which is then boiled with store-bought chicken broth and a rosemary sprig. This simulates the taste of homemade chicken broth, an excellent base for soup.
   We couldn’t find escarole, a type of endive, so we substituted spinach for it. It was an absolutely perfect substitution.
   The first step in making the meatballs is making plain fresh breadcrumbs. I put pieces of a multigrain bun in a mini-chopper to make the breadcrumbs.
   The breadcrumbs are placed in a bowl and moistened with water. Finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh parsley, salt, pepper, ground chicken and an egg are mixed in until just combined.
   To form a meatball, one tablespoon of the chicken mixture is scooped out and rolled into a ball.
   Oil is heated over medium heat, then chopped onions, carrots and celery are cooked in it until tender.    Chicken broth, rosemary and water are brought to a boil over medium-high heat.
   The meatballs are added gently to the broth mixture, and the heat is reduced to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes.
   The escarole or spinach is added, and the soup left to simmer five minutes more to finish cooking the meatballs and wilting the greens.
   Serve the soup with more grated Parmiagiano-Reggiano grated on top.

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