- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

“Rapido,” indeed, but 30 minutes well spent by the cook packs plenty of

flavor and substance into this tasty dish.

The proof is in the eating for Italian meatball soup rapido, a main-course dish you can make with this recipe from the Every Day cooking section of Gourmet magazine’s February issue.

Only 10 minutes of active time is called for, and the cook can take advantage of some shortcuts such as frozen chopped onions and refrigerated or frozen precooked meatballs.

It takes hardly any extra time to add savory Parmigiano-Reggiano, the premium Parmesan cheese, to enrich the canned broth — the cheese is a key ingredient for this quickly made, warming and delicious meal in a bowl.

This recipe takes 30 minutes.

Italian meatball soup rapido

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup frozen chopped onions (about 6 ounces)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 celery rib, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

51/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (42 fluid ounces)

2 cups water

20 refrigerated or frozen precooked meatballs (15 to 20 ounces; do not thaw if frozen)

2 14-ounce cans small white beans, drained and rinsed

5- to 6-ounce bag baby spinach, coarsely chopped

cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Additional finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to garnish soup

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5- to 6-quart pot over high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onions, garlic, celery and carrots, stirring occasionally, until onions are pale golden, about 4 minutes.

Stir in broth and water and bring to a boil, covered.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute meatballs (do not thaw if frozen), turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 3 minutes.

Add meatballs to soup along with beans, and briskly simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and meatballs are heated through, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach, cheese, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, until spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Pass the additional cheese to garnish.

Makes 4 servings.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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