Minestra Maritata

Courtesy of Brian Gojdics
Tutta Bella, Seattle, WA

Prosciutto brodo
½  pound prosciutto end pieces

In a heavy bottom stock pot, add the prosciutto pieces and ½  gallon of cold water. Bring it up to a simmer and let it simmer for about an hour to pull as much flavor as possible from the prosciutto. Strain the broth into a bowl and discard prosciutto pieces. Let the brodo cool in your refrigerator. The fat will rise to the surface and harden as it cools. Once hardened, remove the fat and set broth aside.

Parmesan Brodo
½ pound Parmesan rinds (save the cheese for another use and to garnish the soup)

In a heavy bottom stock pot, add the parmesan rinds and ½  gallon of cold water. Bring it up to a simmer and let it simmer for about an hour to pull as much flavor as possible from the cheese rinds. Stir occasionally so the cheese rinds do not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.  If it does stick and burn, you will need to start over otherwise your soup will have a burnt flavor. Strain the broth into a bowl and discard Parmesan pieces.  Let it cool in your refrigerator.  The fat from the cheese will rise to the surface and congeal as it cools. Once congealed, skim the surface of the broth to remove and solids and set broth aside.

Meatballs
1 cup stale Italian bread cut into ½ inch cubes
1 cup milk + ¼ cup if needed
½  pound ground beef
¼  pound ground pork
¼  pound ground veal
¼  teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
¼  cup Grana Padano
1 egg, beaten
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed for frying.

Combine both the 1 cup of stale bread cubes with 1 cup of milk in a bowl. Let the bread absorb the milk and turn them mushy — mix half way through with a total soak time of 30 minutes.  Once the bread has rehydrated give it a light squeeze to drain a little of the milk away.  With your hands, tear the cubes into very small pieces the size of BBs (this should take no effort) and combine with the ground beef, ground pork and ground veal.

Add the garlic, salt, Grana Padano and eggs. Using your hands, mix the mixture until all is just incorporated. The meatball mix should be sticky. If not, add the milk in one tablespoon increments up to ¼ of a cup. Roll the meatballs to the size of a quarter and fry them  in hot extra-virgin olive oil until they are browned on all sides. Set aside to drain on paper towel.

Minestra Maritata
½ gallon prosciutto brodo
½ gallon Parmesan brodo
meatballs
1 bunch of rapini
1 head of escarole
1 large yellow onions
sea salt, to taste
shaved parmesan, garnish
virgin olive oil, garnish

Combine the prosciutto brodo and the Parmesan brodo and bring to a simmer.  In the meantime, remove both ends and the skin from the onions and julienne. Wash both the rapini and escarole in cold water. The escarole may be very dirty and you may have to wash it several times before all the grit will go away. Once the greens are cleaned, cut into pieces roughly the size of a half of a dollar bill.

Once the brodo is at a simmer, add the julienned onion and the greens.  Let simmer for 30 minutes or until the greens are cooked through and have turned a dark green.  Add the meatballs and simmer for another 20 minutes. Taste and check if the soup needs salt and add to taste.  Pull the soup off of the heat and cool completely, preferably overnight.  This will allow time for all of the ingredients to “marry” and create something wonderful.

Click here to submit recipe