I never tire of this satisfying soup of mini-meatballs in a chicken broth mingled with mellow greens, topped off with Parmesan. It’s a good one to serve guests with a salad (followed by a dessert) to make the meal. Baking the meatballs in the oven makes the whole job easier.

Serves 6

For the meatballs:

  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs or any fresh bread crumbs (crumbed in a food processor) 
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper

For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion (about 2 cups), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into half moons
  • 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 cups thinly sliced kale, (center ribs removed before slicing)
  • 2 cups Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced*
  • 2 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1.  Make meatballs by mixing the ground beef, bread crumbs, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Roll into approximate 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2. Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions for about 10 minutes, until golden, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking.  Add garlic and cook another minute over low heat. Add chicken stock, carrots and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Add kale and Savoy cabbage, turn down to simmer, cover and cook about 15 minutes.

3. While soup is simmering, bake meatballs for about 12 minutes (they don’t brown up as much in the oven as they would sautéed in a pan, but that’s okay).  Remove from the oven and add to the soup, simmering about 5 minutes to meld flavors.

4. Taste the soup and add more salt if needed and a few grinds of black pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Pass the cheese at the table.

*Savoy cabbage is the crinkly green cabbage, a bit milder than regular green cabbage. If Savoy cabbage is not available use green cabbage, napa cabbage, or chopped escarole.

Variation: Add cheese tortellini to the soup