The most popular new book about soup and only soup comes from British restaurateur John Vincent and food writer Jane Vincent. Leon Happy Soups brings the recipes from the beloved London produce palace straight to your own kitchen. Remember: A boring bowl is not a happy bowl, so liven it up with this Sicilian-inspired spicy chicken meatball soup.
We love these chicken meatballs, studded with pine nuts, fennel seeds and capers, simmered in a spicy tomato broth. This soup is inspired by our Sicilian Meatball Hot Box, created by John’s friend Scott Uehlien, who was Head of Food at the US retreat Canyon Ranch. Thanks, Scott.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 fat clove garlic, crushed to a paste
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Generous 1 cup hot vegetable broth
- 7 ounces macaroni or ditalini
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly parsley, chopped, to serve
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
- 1 slice stale bread, crusts removed
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1 pound ground chicken or chicken breasts, ground in a food processor
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped golden raisins
- Zest of 1/2 lemon, grated
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- A pat butter
For the meatball soup
First, make the soup. Place the oil, garlic, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, broth and some salt and pepper in a large heavy pan with a lid. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the tomatoes have broken down and are pulpy, around 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Use a food processor to turn the bread into crumbs (or crumble into tiny pieces with your hands). Then stir through the milk to soften.
Tip the ground chicken and milky bread crumbs into a bowl and add a pinch of salt and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Place the fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and pine nuts in a hot dry pan and toast briefly, stirring, until golden, then add to the bowl with the golden raisins, lemon zest, parsley, capers, and garlic. Use your hands to mix everything together, then shape into 20 balls, each around 1¼ inch in diameter.
Place the oil and butter in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown them all over. (Once one side has browned, turn the balls sidewise, as turning them right over allows them to flatten out and lose their round shape.)
The pasta and meatballs now cook in the soup: the meatballs need about 10 minutes, while the pasta will depend on which variety you choose. Add the boiling water to the pan, stir, then add the meatballs and then the pasta, according to its cooking time.
Cover the pan, but stir every minute or two to prevent the pasta and sauce sticking to the bottom and burning.
When the pasta is cooked, remove from the heat. Serve topped with the fresh parsley and lots of freshly grated Parmesan.