Nana's Escarole Soup (Italian Wedding Soup)

Abbondanza--abundance, richness, wealth and for me yumminess.  This soup is all about abbondanza just like a wedding.

I loved when my Nana would make escarole soup.  The whole house would smell delicious.  She'd let me help and I loved pulling the little meatballs and putting them in the soup.  She'd scramble an egg into a small pot of the finished soup then serve it up with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and a piece of perfect crusty bread.  That flavor is home to me.  I have tweaked her original recipe to suit my tastes.

Two large chicken breast with ribs on the bone
1 lb of ground turkey (or chicken or beef)
2 bunches of escarole
4 large carrots, rough chop
6 large cloves of garlic, fine chop
heart of celery with all of the leaves and 3-4 stalks, rough chop
1 large yellow pepper (or orange or red), rough chop
1 medium onion, diced
1 roasted pepper (I used jar), diced
a handful of grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
a handful of breadcrumbs
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
4 C vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

I salt and pepper the chicken and put it in the soup pot, skin side down, over medium-high heat to get things started.  I use a little olive oil so it won't stick.  As that gets going, I get the rest of the ingredients ready.

Escarole Prep
Escarole is very sandy and has to be washed really well.  I found the best way to get the job done is to tear it right into the salad spinner and cold water.  Don't crowd it, do it in batches.  I usually fill and rinse out the water at least 3-4 times.  I do it until I see no sand in the bowl.

I tear it, never cut it.  I like to leave the pieces pretty substantial so you can see what they are and don't look like tiny pieces of green something just floating in the soup.

Next I get all the veggies ready.  I used the food processor to do my garlic, onions, parsley, and the roasted pepper.  I rough chopped the celery, carrots, and the yellow pepper.

Mise en place
I put the ground turkey in a large bowl, add the egg, 2 of the chopped garlic cloves, 1/4 of the chopped onion, the roasted pepper, cheese and breadcrumbs. And, of course, add the salt and pepper.

I add the veggies to the pot with the chicken, stir around and let the veggies get cooking for 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I add the 4 C of stock to the pot and 3/4 handful of chopped parsley.  I add 2-3 C boiling water from the kettle to cover everything. Bring to a boil and let the chicken cook through.

Starting to smell amazing
For the meatballs

Pulling the meatballs

Mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs, I do it by hand.  Don't over work the meat, just get everything combined.

Pull out the chicken and set aside.  Turn down the burner to a low heat so it is barely simmering.

I pull small balls of the meat, don't roll into balls, just pulled the little bit and drop it into the soup pot.  You'll see them start to float to the top as they cook.

Floating meatballs

Time to shred/chop the chicken
Adding the escarole
I usually pull off chunks of chicken and chop it.  If it isn't cooked through, it is okay, it'll finish in the soup pot.  Once chopped just add to the soup.

At this point I make sure it is only simmering, not boiling.  If you boil the soup from this point on the meatballs are going to fall apart.

Add the escarole to the top of the pot and add around 1 C of boiling water from the kettle.  Cover with the lid until the escarole wilts.  Once wilted, taste the broth and add additional seasoning if necessary.

I let it simmer until we are ready to eat.  If you like pasta, I recommend making it on the side and adding to each bowl of soup.  I like to eat this for dinner, then a couple days for lunch, but will freeze most of this size pot.

I mentioned that my Nana would scramble an egg into our soup, to do that transfer the soup you're going to eat into a smaller pot, scramble an egg and stir into the soup.  Easy!

I insist that you serve this soup with grated Parmesan, and strongly recommend the crusty bread.

Et voila!


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