i usually get this started the night before serving it...while everyone's in the kitchen cleaning up from supper so i have a little company. i get the stock going and let the kids help form the tiny meatballs so that the next night, all we have to do is saute some carrots and onions, add the stock, throw in the meatballs, add the greens and stir in the cheese/egg mixture...which takes about 30-40 minutes.
first, i'll tell you how to make.....
it really is easy to make your own stock and will make all the difference in the flavor of this soup.
here are the items i typically include in the stock pot:
chicken pieces (necks and backs are often sold in the meat section for just this purpose)
herbs (thyme and parsley are particularly good in chicken stock)
s & p
some people include garlic, but i'm not a fan of it in this soup
throw whatever combination you have of these ingredients into a pot and add water. put it on the stove to simmer, cover the pot and go mix up the meatballs....
|the meatball mixture|
2 lbs of ground meat (i use equal parts pork, sirloin and veal)
1 t pepper
pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 c pecorino romano cheese
1 c chopped fresh parsley
1 c bread crumbs
1/4 t nutmeg
mix it all together with your hands and form into small meatballs (3/4" in diameter). put them on a cookie sheet and back into the frig until tomorrow night.
leave the stock on the stove until you're ready for bed (an hour or two longer) then strain it into a container and pop it in the frig.
when you're ready to make the soup....pull out your soup pot and saute some carrots and onion, diced small (4 carrots and a whole onion) until they begin to sweat but don't let them brown. now add your strained chicken stock and bring it to a simmer. once it's simmering, drop in your meatballs (you can add some tiny pasta now too if you like - acini di pepe cooks relatively fast). once the meatballs start floating it's time to add the greens (spinach or escarole) that you've slivered. give that a few minutes before you stir in what i think is the most amazing part of this soup - the egg & cheese mixture.
stir together 3 eggs with 1 c romano cheese and then gently pout this into the simmering soup, stirring while you pour so the egg/cheese mixture forms threads (kind of like egg drop soup) throughout.
adjust seasonings and serve with additional grated romano cheese.