- 1⁄2 small onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1⁄2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1⁄4 C dry white wine
- 2 quarts chicken stock (8 cups)
- ½ C orzo pasta, uncooked
- 6 oz. escarole, washed and dried
- 1 tsp salt
- 1⁄2 tsp black pepper
Freshly grated pecorino romano, for garnish. Crusty Italian bread, as an accompaniment.
1. Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a medium mixing bowl; stir to fully moisten the crumbs and allow to sit for 30 seconds.
2. Add the onion, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, garlic, pecorino and egg, and whisk to combine evenly.
3. Crumble the beef and pork into the egg mixture and mix until just combined. (Note: The mixture will be wet.) Do not over-mix or the meatballs will be tough.
4.Use a measuring spoon to scoop 1 teaspoonful of the meat mixture; roll between your palms to form a nice, bite-size round ball. (Note: You may need to wet your hands to prevent the meatballs from sticking during the rolling process.)
5. Place the meatball on a parchment-lined, flour-dusted baking sheet.
When you are satisfied with the seasoning, continue shaping balls until all of the meat mixture has been used, placing each meatball on the prepared baking sheet. Dust flour evenly over all the meatballs, then shake the pan, rolling the meatballs around to coat lightly, but evenly, with the flour.
6. Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat; add the oil and heat through. Carefully add the meatballs to the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. (Note: You may have to cook the meatballs in two batches.) Fry the meatballs until they are lightly brown on all sides, about 10 minutes; shake the pan occasionally to promote even browning. Carefully transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined platter to drain.
7. For the Soup: Return the pan to the heat and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the white wine and stir, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan (deglazing); cook until the wine has nearly evaporated.
8. Add the chicken broth and bring to the boil. Add the orzo, stirring to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the orzo is just al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes, then add the meatballs and the escarole. Bring just to a simmer, and simmer gently (do not boil) until the meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Season
to taste with salt and pepper.
9. Ladle into warmed soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with grated pecorino romano cheese.