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Beans and Greens Soup with Sausage Meatballs

Beans and Greens Soup with Sausage Meatballs


  • 1 bundle broccoli rabe

  • Salt

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed (half a palmful)

  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, such as Buon Italia

  • Black pepper

  • 5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided

  • 2 slices stale white bread, soaked in milk

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a couple of handfuls), plus more for topping; reserve rind for soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 head escarole, chopped

  • A few grates of nutmeg

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained

  • 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces)

  • 2-3 cups water

  • 1 cup small-cut pasta, such as mini penne, mezze rigatoni or orechiette (ear-shaped pasta)


Blanch the broccoli rabe in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes, then cold shock, drain and reserve. Mix the pork with the fennel seed, red pepper, black pepper and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and crumble very fine into the bowl; add the egg and grated cheese. Mix to combine. Heat the EVOO in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the onion and the remaining garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the escarole and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Once the greens are wilted, add the stock, water and cheese rind and bring to a low boil. Roll the meat into balls and add to the soup. Cook for 5 minutes; add the pasta and cook to al dente. Stir in the beans and rabe and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Serve in bowls and top with grated cheese. This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, visit