Roasted Tomato Soup with Tiny Meatballs and Rice
- 4 lb. ripe tomatoes, halved crosswise
- 1 large sweet onion such as Vidalia, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 3/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 lb. ground veal, turkey or lean pork
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbs. torn fresh sage leaves
- 1 tsp. salt, plus salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup arborio rice
- About 2 cups beef or vegetable stock, or canned broth
- 1/3 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 orange zest strip, 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
- 1 garlic clove
Meanwhile, make the meatballs: In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of the water. Let soften, about 5 minutes. Add the meat, egg, cheese, sage, 1 tsp. of the salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
While the meat is chilling, cook the rice: In a heavy saucepan over high heat, bring the remaining 1 cup water to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and all the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Pass the tomatoes, onion and juices through a food mill placed over a large bowl. Discard the solids. (Alternatively, puree in a food processor, then pass the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.) Measure the tomato mixture; you should have about 6 cups. Add enough stock to measure 8 cups total. Transfer to a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to very low and cover.
Shape the meat mixture into tiny balls each about 3/4 inch in diameter. You should have about 25 meatballs. Slip the meatballs into the broth, re-cover, raise the heat to low and simmer gently until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. While the rice is heating, on a cutting board, finely chop together the parsley, orange zest and garlic.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, distributing the meatballs evenly. Sprinkle with a little of the parsley mixture and serve immediately.