Minestra With Beef And Pork Polpette

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

4 ounces pancetta or speck (a couple of 1/8-inch-thick slices)

2 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, 3 thinly sliced, 1 peeled

1 starchy potato, peeled and diced or 3/4 cup ditalini or pennette

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh bay leaf

2 heads escarole, chopped

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 (15 to 18-ounce) can ounces cannellini beans

6 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

3 slices white bread or peasant bread, crust trimmed


8 ounces ground beef

8 ounces ground pork

1 teaspoon fennel seed or pollen or ground fennel

1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1 generous handful grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for topping

A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 egg yolk

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread*, for serving

*Cook's Note: Wrap the bread in plastic or freeze when you bring home from store.

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