Escarole and Orzo Soup with Mini-Meatballs

Fall is on the calendar and in the air.  After a summer full of eggplant and corn, I’m ready for some variety in my veggies. With escarole in my CSA share and a drop in temperature, I was inspired to make this soup that reminds me of my childhood.

You can easily substitute any ground meat for the beef or use beans or rice instead of orzo.  Some recipes call for carrots, but I left them out and added tomatoes instead.  And with homemade lamb stock on hand, my version was a little richer than normal.  If you want to keep this lighter, use vegetable stock but most will use chicken stock.  The basic preparation is the same no matter what ingredients you choose.

The best part is that this only take a few minutes to assemble.  Make a pot over the weekend, and you’ll have lunch for the week.


Escarole and Orzo Soup with Mini-Meatballs
Serves 4.


1 bunch of escarole
1 lb of ground beef (80/20)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A bit of onion juice
A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
1/8 cup of parm plus more for sprinkling
1 egg
6 cups of stock of your choosing (you can add more if you want more broth)
1/2 lb of orzo (you can use more or less depending on how much pasta you want)
1-2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper


First make the meatballs.  With your hands, combine the ground meat, garlic, parm, onion juice, parsley and some salt and pepper.  [Tip:  For the onion juice, use your knife to scrape the inside of a cut onion.]  Mix in an egg to hold it all together.  Then shape them into mini-meatballs and set aside.

IMG_1053In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the broth over medium high.  In the meantime, chop the escarole.

IMG_1054When broth is hot, add the escarole, the meatballs, tomatoes and the orzo.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a few dashes of red pepper as desired.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least twenty minutes, but I prefer to let it cook on low for a couple hours so that all the flavors come through.

IMG_1056Serve with additional parm and crusty bread for a one pot dish that will make you forget that summer has disappeared … at least for a little while.


2 thoughts on “Escarole and Orzo Soup with Mini-Meatballs

    • It’s more of a bitter green. Sometimes it’s curly. Tends to be used in Italian peasant cooking. You could substitute kale with some massaging first. Any green that won’t cook down to nothing can work. Or even cabbage.

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