recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, photo by Romulo Yanes
- 6 ounces ground chicken (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided, plus more for garnish
- 4 garlic cloves, 2 minced, 2 thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 large egg, whisked to blend
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
- 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 3/4 cup ditalini or other small pasta
- 1 cup 1/2-inch rounds peeled carrots
- 1 cup (packed) baby spinach
- Chopped fresh basil
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Mix chicken, breadcrumbs, 3 Tbsp. Parmesan, 2 minced garlic cloves, chives, egg, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl. Form into 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs (makes about 28).
Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat. Cook meatballs until golden all over, about 3 minutes (they will finish cooking in soup). Transfer to a plate; set aside.
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Add leek to pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves; cook for 1 minute. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and carrots; simmer until pasta is almost al dente, about 8 minutes. Add meatballs; simmer until pasta is al dente, carrots are tender, and meatballs are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and remaining 3 Tbsp. Parmesan; stir until spinach is wilted and Parmesan is melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan.