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Playing Rachael's Spring Minestrone with Chicken-Ricotta Meatballs

This soup has baby meatballs in it, but rather than baking or frying them they are cooked directly in the broth as dumplings. It keeps them even more tender and moist.  


  • About 1/3 cup loosely packed homemade white breadcrumbs or Panko
  • About 1/8 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • A little freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 medium egg plus yolk
  • ½ cup loosely packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ¼ cup finely chopped chives and parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 thin spring carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on small bias
  • A bunch of ramps, whites and greens separated, whites chopped and greens cut into ½ inch pieces, or 2 thin leeks, whites and light greens halved, cleaned and thinly sliced on bias
  • 2 quarts homemade or boxed chicken stock
  • 1 piece of rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
  • About 3/4 cup shelled small fava beans, spring peas or edamame
  • About 3/4 cup ditalini pasta
  • 1 cup packed coarsely chopped medium-leaf spinach (1 bundle, trimmed and stemmed)
  • ½ cup chopped herbs, such as carrot tops or dill and thinly sliced basil, to serve
  • Juice of 1 lemon, to serve


Serves: 4


Place the breadcrumbs in shallow bowl, douse with milk or half-and-half, and soak to soft and absorbed. Combine with ricotta cheese. Add nutmeg to breadcrumbs, then add chicken to bowl along with egg and yolk, cheese, chives, and salt and pepper. Combine mixture and place a small scoop in warm water to help you drop dumplings.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add carrots and ramp whites or leeks, season with salt and soften 5 minutes. Add stock, rind and bring to low bowl, then drop in small meatballs, about 1 to 1 ¼ inches. Simmer the meat dumplings in broth 3 minutes, then add beans or peas and pasta and simmer 7 minutes more. Adjust salt and wilt in ramp tops and/or spinach. Turn off heat and add herbs and lemon. Serve soup in shallow bowls.