Meatball, Orzo and Cavolo Nero Soup

IMG_1057For this post I’d like to talk about food dislikes vs the perfect comfort food. I think one of things I love most about food is how personal it its. Every person has a different version of food heaven and hell. First off dislikes… what foods out there really turn your stomach?? For me there’s not much I really can’t stand. But these are my main three serious food dislikes.

1. Celery – Cannot stand the stuff!! Even as a base for a sauce or dish I simply cannot use it as for me, it pollutes the whole dish to the point it all just tastes like celery. Yuk!

2. Sweet spices in savoury dishes – This is a fairly new one I’ve only recently picked up on. Spices like ground cinnamon and cloves combined with meat completely turn my stomach. Last week I made a gorgeous slow cooked chilli – one of the ingredients was a pinch of cloves.  Thinking along the lines of ‘how much difference can one little pinch of cloves make’ I left it in and what would of been a beautiful warming chilli was for me totally marred by the underlying flavour of clove. Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me being odd??


3.Seafood – This is one dislike I really wish I didn’t have! I’ve tried and tried to make myself enjoy fish and seafood but I’ve pretty much given up! I’ve tried cooking it for myself and every time someone I know orders seafood in a restaurant I’ll try a bit to try and find something I like, but so far to no avail! I would love to enjoy a massive bowl of mussels or a piece of salmon but I think this is one dislike I’m going to have to live with and just get over it. Booo!

So those are mine. Now I’d love to know yours – tell me, I’d genuinely love to know!

Next up, comfort food! Has anyone else been watching The Taste? I’ve personally been loving seeing Nigella get her claws out a bit. This week they were looking at comfort food and really got me thinking what I would cook and what my perfect comfort food would be!


I think for me it would definitely be something down the Italian  route – a creamy risotto or a big bowl full of pasta. I imagine J would have very different ideas! He would be on the meat, veg and gravy side of the fence no question! My other option for perfect comfort would be soup… and that’s where this little beauty of a soup comes in! For me this is a perfect soup – it has the stodge of the orzo, combined with little bites of pork and parmesan meatballs and plenty of fresh veg. I’d been craving this for weeks before I finally got round to making a giant batch yesterday, and I enjoyed every mouthful just as I always do 🙂 guaranteed winter comfort food perfection! Chunky, hearty and filling.

It’s a recipe I’ve gradually adapted from one from my favourite blog Smitten Kitchen – The original recipe used turkey mince. For mine I use pork but both work just as well so feel free to go with either! I like to use cavolo nero as it’s a veg I’ve come to really love, it has such a delicious flavour. You could definitely substitute another type of cabbage, kale or any other fresh green as long as you have that hit of freshness in there. Orzo is a rice shaped pasta which seems to be coming more readily available at the moment – it has a lovely texture which can’t really be replicated with another grain. In a pinch you could get away with rice or a small pasta but I personally think it’s worth trying to locate the orzo. As with all soups don’t be too finicky on measurement! Just sling it in as it were!


Meatball, Orzo and Cavolo Nero Soup:

serves 4 for a main course

275g Pork Mince

1/4 Cup Dried Panko Breadcrumbs

1 Egg

2 Tbsp Water

1/4 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp Parsley – Chopped

1 Small Garlic Clove – Minced

3/4 tsp Salt

1.8 Litres Chicken Stock

3 Carrots – Diced

3/4 Cup Orzo Pasta

Half Large Bag Cavolo Nero – Tough stalks stripped out and discarded – leaves chopped

Extra Parmesan for Topping


In a small bowl whisk together the egg, water and breadcrumbs and allow to stand for five minutes. To a large bowl add the pork mince, parsley, parmesan, breadcrumb mix, salt and a good grind of black pepper. Bring together with your hand to combine the ingredients evenly. Roll into small bite sized balls – don’t compact them too much when rolling just enough to bring them together. Set on a plate, cover and chill until needed.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan and add the carrots and orzo. Simmer, uncovered for 8 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for another 10 minutes, then stir in the cavolo nero for a further 5 minutes until the cabbage has just wilted. Check the seasoning and serve with a good grating of parmesan over the top. If you serving straight after cooking allow to stand for 10 minutes before tucking in to allow to flavours to develop!

* Just a note – if you are keeping some of the soup back for another meal, the orzo will soak up some of the liquid. Some will come out as it is reheated but you may need to add a touch of water as you reheat it to bring it back to a soupy consistency!


18 thoughts on “Meatball, Orzo and Cavolo Nero Soup

  1. Haha… I love this. 🙂 The soup looks fabulous. Like, I’d want to shove my face in the bowl. Is that weird? 😉 I can’t help it. It looks that delicious.

    I’m on the fence about the sweet in the savory thing. There are times when I like it, and times when it truly does not belong. I have a problem with Chinese five spice because of that. It brings too much sweet to what should be savory.

    I had to really stop and think about my hates…because unfortunately, my roly poly body proves that there are not many..
    Lemons. I love them fresh, and in savory dishes. I despise them in baked goods. I don’t like lemon pie, cookies or cake. I’ve tried to like lemon baked goods, but it’s just not going to happen.
    I love seafood, but I’m not a fan of the slimy type. Eel, squid, etc… Maybe it’s mind over matter, but there is no way that’s even passing my lips.

    • I’m similar on the lemon in dessert as well – not a fan! Good to know it’s not just me on the sweet in savoury thing!!! Although funnily I’m ok with five spice. Think it’s cloves that are the main culprit!

  2. Oh yum, that classes as comfort food in my book! Pork/sausage has to be up there with comfort food – bangers and mash, sausage rolls?!
    Funny your food dislikes are so of my favourite things! I love sweet spices in savoury food more than anything else ! My dislikes are really only goats cheese (alrhough if it’s mild it’s passable)a and ummm reckon I like everything else. Oh not a massive fan of mange tout or bok choi!
    Good job on the soup 🙂

  3. That looks really delicious. Carbs are always comforting – a lovely cheesy jacket spud, pasta, crusty bread to dip things in – all those things are comfort food to me. As you will know as my foodie penpal, I hate mushrooms (texture / taste – tried again as an adult but can’t get on with them), rocket (disgustingly peppery) and marzipan (was sick once after eating it and now the associations are too strong for me to eat it again). I don’t mind sweet spices in savoury food to a point, but I don’t like fruit in savoury dishes – I’ll eat it to be polite but I don’t enjoy it.

    • Mmm crusty bread – one of my all time fave foods! Haha I love mushrooms but I can see where your coming from with the texture! Defo with you on the fruit thing, everyone seems to rave about apple and pork but I don’t like it at all. Can do pomegranates and mango in savoury though!

  4. Lots to say here, Claire! First of all, my mouth is watering even though it’s only breakfast time! Love orzo (they use it a lot in Greece where I live). Plus, I have to say I agree with you about the celery but not the cinnamon. The Greeks put cinnamon in their meat a lot and it goes so well. Try it in some bolognese sauce some time! And finally … love Nigella!! Nice post!

    • Celery is awful isn’t it! I can just about get away with a bit of cinnamon, I think it’s possibly cloves that I don’t like! I love Greek food, can’t wait for some Greek food on your blog 🙂

  5. This looks great – I love soup – and there’s so many combinations you can make. I have to admit though, I love celery and seafood! But I’m definitely with you on the sweet spices in savory dishes. The two things I absolutely do not like (and probably never will) are cucumbers and watermelon!

  6. Oooh! Such an interesting topic and like you said, so personal! To be honest I’ll eat pretty much anything…except anything that has curry leaf in it! It’s the one thing I reaaaaallllllyyyyyyy can’t stand! Comfort food for me is pasta and soup–specifically recipes that my grandmothers used to make 🙂 your soup looks YUM!

  7. I think that my least favorite ingredients have to be cilantro and meat other than chicken and some cuts of pork. I would never never ever eat beef, lamb or rabbit 😦
    And food heaven for me has to be a warm sandwich or toast, Now, that’s awesome!
    This soup looks lovely Claire! 🙂

    • Oooo I love a good sandwich – Totally addicted to bagels at the mo as well 🙂 warm toast is so comforting! Have to say I love a bit of cilantro thought! Thanks Consuelo!

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