Ciao Italia Pronto!
30-Minute Recipes from an Italian Kitchen
Mary Ann Esposito

St. Martin's Press, 224 pages, hardcover

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Zuppa di Polpettine
Meatball Soup

Serves 6 to 8

(* indicates what Suzanne used when she made the soup)

2 bread slices, crusts removed
1/3 cup milk or ricotta cheese (* I used ricotta cheese)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese (* I grated pecorino cheese)
1 Tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
Salt to taste
Coarse black pepper to taste
1/4 pound ground chuck
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 pound ground veal
1 (2-pound) bag frozen, ready-to-cook mixed vegetables
2 quarts low-fat canned chicken or beef broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced plum tomatoes

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place them in a bowl. Pour the milk over the bread or stir in the ricotta cheese. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the grated cheese, parsley, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and mix well. Add the meats and mix with your hands to blend the ingredients well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Have a bowl of water handy to keep your hands wet while making the meatballs. Scoop up about 2 teaspoons of the mixture and roll it into a small ball with your hands. Place the meatballs on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Continue making meatballs, spacing them on the baking sheet so that they're not touching.

Bake the meatballs for about 12 minutes or until they begin to brown. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a soup pot or a crock pot. Stir in the vegetables and the broth. If the tomatoes are whole and not pre-diced, use kitchen scissors to cut them into bits in the can and add them to the soup. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and cook for 10 minutes. (*After bringing to a boil, I simmered my soup for 40 minutes.)

Variation: Add 1 cup cooked small pasta like ditalini or elbows to the soup. (* I added cooked ditalini pasta to my soup.)