1 package (19 ounce) JOHNSONVILLE® Mild Italian Sausage Links, removed from casing* (*Cut sausage link end to end, about three-quarters of the way through. Flip sausage link over, grasp casing and pull off.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed or chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
8 ounces orzo pasta, cooked
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
How to Make It
Mix meatball ingredients together and roll small meatballs the size of a marble. (If forming the meatball is difficult, cover and refrigerate first.)
In a medium pan, cook orzo al dente, according to package directions, drain and set aside.
Prep the vegetables.
In a large pot, sauté onion, thyme and sage in olive oil. When the onion starts to turn a golden color, add garlic, carrot and celery, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Set the vegetable mixture aside on a plate.
In the same pot, add all the meatballs and cook for 2 to 3 minutes before stirring. (This will keep them from breaking). Gently toss with a rubber spatula to brown on all sides.
Add reserved vegetables, chicken stock and bay leaf. Simmer gently (do not boil), until vegetables are tender and meatballs are cooked through.
Add cooked orzo and spinach, stir together. (Adding spinach right before serving will help it maintain its rich green color).
Garnish soup bowls with Parmesan cheese.
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