Pasta with Meatballs in a Broth

Also known as Pasta Con Polpette in Brodo

Yield: 6 servings.


  • Meatballs
    • Olive oil, for baking sheet
    • 1 large slice stale Italian-style bread
    • Milk for soaking bread
    • ½ pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
    • ½ pound ground veal        
    • 3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion, sautéed
    • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 small garlic clove, minced
    • Pinch red chile flakes, or to taste (optional)
    • Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Brodo/Broth
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 small shallots, chopped
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
    • Pinch of red chile flakes, or to taste (optional)
    • 1 large clove garlic, chopped 1 cup dry white wine
    • One 19-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
    • 8 cups good quality veal stock
    • Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


  1. Assembly
    1. 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
    2. Fresh Parmesan, for serving
    3. Fresh basil, chopped or torn
  2. Meatballs
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Lightly oil one large baking sheet or two smaller baking sheets.
    3. Break up bread into pieces and add to small bowl. Pour ½ cup milk over stale bread. Add more milk if bread looks dry. Let bread soak until bread becomes soft, about 5 to 10 minutes.
    4. Add Italian sausage meat, veal, Parmesan, onion, basil, egg and garlic to large bowl.
    5. Squeeze out excess moisture from bread. Add bread to meat mixture. Season mixture with chile flakes, salt and pepper. Using your hands, combine mixture thoroughly.
    6. Form mixture into 1/2-inch mini balls. Transfer meatballs to prepared baking sheets. Bake until meatballs are lightly brown and cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Brodo/Broth
    1. Add olive oil to large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft and lightly golden, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add thyme sprigs, chile flakes and garlic. Let cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. Let mixture cook down until the liquid reduces by about half. Add tomatoes and veal stock. Let simmer, about 15 to 20 minutes. 
    2. Assembly
    3. Bring brodo to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until firm with just a bit in the centre of the pasta, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add meatballs in the last five minutes of cooking pasta. Season to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or shaved Parmesan and basil. When pasta is cooked, serve immediately; otherwise, pasta will continue to cook in broth and will overcook. Alternatively, you can cook pasta separately in water and add to brodo.