Escarole and Parmesan Soup With Chicken Meatballs Recipe

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

A hearty escarole soup made with Parmesan rinds and bay leaves, with plenty of tender, cheese- and nutmeg-flavored mini chicken meatballs.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 0 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

  • 1 head escarole, roughly chopped (about 1 quart)

  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1 medium stalk celery, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 (3- to 4-inch) chunk Parmesan rind

  • 1 very cold boneless skinless chicken breast half, cut into 1-inch chunks, about 8 ounces

  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

  • 1 large egg

  • Pinch grated nutmeg

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add escarole, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook until vegetables are fully softened and flavors are developed, about 45 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, combine chicken, cheese, heavy cream egg, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt) in a large bowl. Season well with black pepper. Toss with hands to combine. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip, or to a heavy duty zipper-lock bag with a 1/2-inch hole cut in one corner.

  3. When soup is cooked, make the meatballs by piping them over the hot soup, cutting them off in 1/2-inch segments with the tip of a sharp paring knife. When all the dumplings are used, bring soup to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and Parmesan rind, season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in parsley, and serve, drizzling with more extra-virgin olive oil at the table.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
247 Calories
15g Fat
11g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 247
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 5g 24%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 935mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 10mg 49%
Calcium 213mg 16%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 692mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)