Two weeks ago, Ike DeLorenzo of the Boston Globe ran some great soup recipes in their Wednesday FOOD section. One that seemed very interesting was Zuppa di fagiolini e polpettine (Green bean and meatball ‘soup’). As it gets cold, we love to make hearty soups that work as a meal. So with Jeff as chef, we began chopping and mixing and putting together this layered soup. In the end, we had a delicious soup that fed quite a few people...our family (4), my parents, Jeff’s parents and my cohorts at the United Regional Chamber. If you have a large crew to feed or guests for a Sunday football game, grab the largest pot you have and start chopping!
In this unusual method, the potatoes are simmered in the chicken stock, then green beans and meatballs are cooked without stirring, so the meatballs and potatoes stay intact.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 pounds mixed ground beef, pork, and veal
1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 bunch parsley, stemmed and finely chopped
3 cans (28 ounces each) Italian peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands
2-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 pounds small red potatoes, skin on, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 pounds green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1. In a soup pot, heat the oil and cook the onion, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until it begins to brown.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the beef, pork, and veal with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, and eggs. With clean hands, work the mixture well. Shape it into meatballs about 1-inch wide; set aside.
3. To the onions, add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir well. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add salt and red pepper. Add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.
4. Add the green beans in a layer on top of the potatoes. Do not stir. Add the meatballs in a layer on top of the green beans. The layering is important: it keeps the potatoes and meatballs whole, and keeps the meatballs at the top. Do not stir the pot at all until the dish is served. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are solid and cooked through.
5. With the back of a ladle, gently press the meatballs into the liquid so they’re just submerged. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour without stirring. Some potatoes may stick to the bottom of the pan - and scorch. If you’re lucky you’ll get one of the charred red potatoes in your dish.