As yummy as this soup is, I'm embarrassed to tell you where I got the recipe. Seriously! I received The Sopranos Family Cookbook about five years ago, when Will and I were living in Kansas (I had just become hooked on the series). As an Italian, I prefer to use recipes from either my mom or nana, create them on my own, or use the ones of trusted Italian food network chefs. But referring to an HBO cookbook? While I don't agree with the majority of the basic recipes in here; for example, their Sunday gravy recipe, the lasagna, the marinara sauce-I have to admit that some of the more creative recipes are actually kind of fun to take on a test drive. I made the minestra a couple of years ago for Thanksgiving dinner, and it was well-received by all my guests. I don't normally make meatballs this way, but it went well with the soup and I'm always willing to try new angles on my traditional recipes. A word of caution-once you add the ditalini, don't cook for too long. You don't want overcooked pasta, and that can be a little tricky in this recipe.

Source: The Sopranos Family Cookbook, Chapter Four: Feeding My Family


1 head escarole (about 1 lb)
6 quarts chicken broth, preferably homemade
3 large carrots, chopped
1 lb ground veal or beef (I used beef)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup very finely minced onion
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
8 oz. ditalini or tubetti, or spaghetti broken into bite-sized bits
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste


1. Trim the escarole and discard any bruised leaves. Cut off the stem ends. Separate the leaves and wash them well in cool water, especially the center of the leaves where soil collects. Stack the leaves and cut them crosswise into 1-inch strips. You should have about 4 cups.

2. In a large pot, combine the escarole, broth, and carrots. Bring to a simmer and cook until the escarole is almost tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mix together all of the meatball ingredients. Shape the mixture into tiny balls, less than 1 inch in diameter.

4. When the escarole is cooked, stir in the pasta and return the soup to the simmer. Drop the meatballs into the soup. Cook over low heat, stirring gently, until the meatballs and pasta are cooked, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

5. Serve hot with grated Parmesan.


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