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Escarole Soup with Tiny Meatballs

Escarole Soup with Tiny Meatballs
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Yield: Ample for 12.

Optional additions to this "sign of forgiveness" soup are sliced hard-boiled eggs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 fowl (about 5 to 6 pounds)
  • 2 meaty beef shank bones (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, trimmed, cleaned, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups escarole
  • 1/2 cup uncooked small pasta (e.g., tiny shells, orzo, or acini di pepe)
  • 1/2 pound ground chuck
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

In a large stockpot or kettle, place the fowl (including all giblets except the liver) and the beef bones. Add enough cold water to cover generously and bring slowly to a boil, partially covered. Skim off all froth; lower heat to a simmer. Add onions, carrots, celery, leek, bay leaf, and peppercorns, and salt to taste. Simmer, partially coveted, until fowl is tender. Remove fowl and continue to simmer until beef is very tender. Remove beef shank bones. When cool enough to handle, trim meat from bones; set meat aside, return bones to pot, and continue to simmer another 1 to 2 hours or until broth is nicely flavored.


Degrease the broth, then strain, thoroughly cool, and chill (this can be done in advance and the broth refrigerated). While broth is chilling, be sure both stewed fowl and beef are properly stored. The next day, lift off fat from the broth, leaving a few small pieces on the surface for flavor. Cut beef and 2 or more cups, as desired, of the chicken into bite-sized pieces (reserve remaining chicken for another use). Set both the chicken and beef aside, covered and refrigerated.


As mealtime approaches, cook escarole, uncovered, in salted water to cover until just tender -- about 15 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain well, and cut in bite-sized pieces. Set aside. (If you prefer, escarole may be cooked ahead and frozen. In that case, add just before serving, allowing ample time for it to heat through.) In a separate pan of boiling water, cook pasta until al dente (firm-tender); drain, rinse under cold water, drain well, and set aside.


Season ground chuck with a little salt and freshly ground pepper and roll into tiny 1/2-inch meatballs. Set aside on a plate, covered and refrigerated.


At serving time, bring broth to a boil and correct seasonings. Drop in meatballs and simmer briefly, until just cooked through. Add reserved beef, chicken, escarole, and pasta and stir. Serve hot.

Updated Friday, September 21st, 2007
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