Recipe: Nana's Escarole Soup

My Italian great grandmother, Nana, made this soup and called it Minestra (derivative of minestrone, meaning thick vegetable soup). I remember walking into her kitchen on a cold winter day, smelling the soup, and feeling so good after eating it. Nana never measured when cooking, so these amounts are approximate - make it to your liking.

Ingredients for the soup:

4 cloves garlic, minced

Extra virgin olive oil (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan)

4 cups organic chicken broth (Nana made her own which is now called bone broth)

1 head of escarole (washed well and dried; cut off the wilted or brown parts, and cut big leaves in half). If the heads are small, add a second one.

Ingredients/Directions for the meatballs:

1 lb ground veal (or grass fed beef, or turkey)

1 egg

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Whole milk

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Italian seasoning

Mineral salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all of the above and mix with a fork. Adjust the amount of bread crumbs, milk, and parmesan cheese so the mixture is moist but not with too much liquid. Form the mixture into small meatballs (no larger than 1").


In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil. Brown the garlic (about 1 minute). After browned, add the chicken broth. Add the escarole. Add the meatballs. Mix well. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Add grated fresh parmesan to each bowl.

Notes: Sometimes Nana added pastina (uncooked), or white beans. On occasion she would add chicken in addition to the meatballs. My grandmother added sliced hard boiled eggs. If you want to try making the soup with any of these ingredients, add them to the soup after adding the meatballs.


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