Rachael Ray's Minestrone Soup With Chicken-Ricotta Meatballs

Rachael Ray's Italian minestrone soup is not only a healthy recipe but it will also warm you up on those chilly fall evenings. Since this soup is an excellent source of vegetables and protein, it will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to power through the day.

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1/3 cup Loosely packed homemade breadcrumbs or Panko
1/2 cup Fresh ricotta from cow or sheep
Less than 1/8 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp Chopped thyme
1 lb Ground chicken
2 Small grated or pasted garlic cloves
1 Medium egg or large egg yolk
handful Finely chopped parsley
Salt and black or white pepper
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
2 Chopped carrots
2 quart Washed and chopped leeks
2 Celery ribs with leafy tops (chopped)
1 Chopped onion
1 piece Rind Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
2 quarts Homemade or boxed chicken stock
1 can Cannellini beans (lightly drained)
3/4 cup Ditalini pasta
handful Basil
3/4 lb Coarsely chopped medium leaf spinach or 1 bunch of escarole coarsely chopped
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a shallow bowl, place breadcrumbs and douse with milk. Then add ricotta.

Add nutmeg to breadcrumbs.

Add chicken to bowl along with egg and yolk, cheese, chives, and salt and pepper.

Combine mixture and place a small scoop in warm water to help you drop dumplings.

Heat a Dutch oven over a medium heater with EVOO. Turn pan until bottom is fully coated with the oil.

Add in vegetables and season everything with salt and pepper.

Let items soften for 7-8 minutes.

Add stock. Rind and bring to a low boil.

Drop in some small meatballs, about 1 to 1 1/4 inches.

Let the meat dumplings simmer in broth for 3 minutes.

Add beans and pasta. Let the mixture simmer for 7 minutes more.

Adjust the salt. Wilt in spinach or escarole.

Turn off heat. Add basil and lemon juice.

Serve soup in shallow bowls.