Chicken Soup for the Soul

Meatball and Chicken Soup, originally from a recipe on, by Mary Ann Esposito. Ciao Italia is America's longest-running cooking show, beginning on New Hampshire PBS in 1989. Currently, (2018), it is in its 29th season on PBS.

You can choose to make the meatballs and add them along with the orzo and escarole and wind up with a version of Italian wedding soup, or you can use the stock as a base for traditional chicken soup, and add noodles and the chicken and vegetables used in the recipe. I like using the orzo instead of noodles :-)


Soul-Soothing Soup
  • 1/3-cup fresh breadcrumbs, crust removed
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 pound ground veal or chuck
  • 1 small egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Grinding black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra cheese for sprinkling
  • 1 densely leafed head escarole
  • 1/3 cup orzo
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken broth


For the Meatballs

  • In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs with the milk and set until the milk is absorbed.
  • In a medium bowl add the veal or chuck, egg, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, and the soaked breadcrumbs. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil and place the meatballs on the sheet as you make them. Make meatballs the size of marbles.
  • Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer the meatballs to a bowl

For the soup

  1. Cook the orzo according to the package directions.
  2. Clean escarole leaves well in cold water and tear into bite size pieces to make 3 cups.
  3. Bring the broth to a boil. Add the escarole and meatballs and lower heat to medium; cook for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Then add 1 cup cooked orzo pasta and stir in well.
  4. Serve soup in bowls and garnish with grated cheese.