There’s a reason an entire series of inspirational books was titled “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Chicken soup is as warm and comforting as food gets. This recipe is no exception. It has pasta so it’s reminiscent of the chicken noodle soup you ate as a kid on a cold day or when you were home sick from school. It’s also got flavorful chicken meatballs, a component that makes any meal crave-worthy. The leek, basil, and Parmesan give it a modern twist. Just writing about this recipe is making me wish I had a bowl of it steaming away right next to me.
Taste: The meatballs are definitely the shinning star of the dish. They are bursting with a surprising amount of flavor, especially for being chicken!
Texture: The meatballs are tender and moist without being soggy. The vegetables add a little chunkiness and the pasta adds a nice firm bite.
Ease: I think forming the meatballs was the most time-consuming and hands-on part. Luckily they can be formed a day ahead of time.
Appearance: Pretty rustic and homely but comforting none the less.
Pros: Easy enough to be a weeknight soup. Full of wonderful flavor.
Would I make this again? Definitely.
How to make Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 large egg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup ditalini or other small pasta
1 cup carrot 1/2-inch rounds (peeled)
1 cup packed baby spinach
Chopped fresh basil
In a medium bowl, combine ground chicken, breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, garlic, chives, egg, salt, and pepper. Form into 1-inch meatballs. Meatballs can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 1 day before cooking.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch-oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook meatballs until golden all over, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add leek to pot and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and carrots and simmer for 4 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer until the pasta is al dente, the carrots are tender, and the meatballs are cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add spinach and remaining 3 tablespoons of Parmesan and stir until the spinach is wilted and Parmesan is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chopped basil.
Adapted from Bon Appetit April 2012
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