Grace Parisi's kids love a particular brand of canned soup filled with chicken meatballs and soggy pasta, but she prefers real minestra maritata (Italian wedding soup). She makes tiny pork meatballs and simmers them with orzo, chickpeas, spinach and parmesan. She occasionally substitutes green beans for the spinach, depending on who is at the table.
2 quarts homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup orzo
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
5 ounces baby spinach, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
How to Make It
In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil with the carrot and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, knead the pork with the 1/4 cup of cheese, the bread crumbs and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls.
Drop the balls into the boiling soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and chickpeas and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 5 minutes longer. Serve, passing extra cheese at the table.