Italian Wedding Soup with Lemongrass & Basil Olive Oil

From Christian Reynoso

SF Chronicle Columnist, Bon Appetit & NY Times Contributor

Italian Wedding Soup with Lemongrass & Basil Olive Oil


Serves 4

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ cup coarse breadcrumbs, such as panko
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan, plus a chunk of parmesan for shaving later
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 parmesan rind (2-3” pieces), optional
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Corto Agrumato-Method Lemongrass & Basil Olive Oil
  • 5 oz arugula leaves


Like a wedding, this soup is a joyous marriage. But, this marriage is about flavors that go really well together: A rich chicken broth, hearty little couscous, peppery arugula, lemon, char-broiled chicken thigh meatballs and Corto Agrumato-Method Lemongrass & Basil Olive Oil all come together for a very very happy marriage… in a bowl.

Traditionally, ground chicken is used for meatballs, but this recipe opts for chopped chicken thighs to enhance the depth of flavor that is unmatched by other cuts of chicken.

Be sure to be generous with the parmesan cheese or the Agrumato Lemongrass & Basil Olive Oil, as they play a vital role in providing a savory umami taste and adding rich basil undertones that complete the overall experience of this soup.


Line a sheet pan with parchment or aluminum foil then lay the chicken thighs on the pan and place in the freezer for 20 minutes. This helps make them easier to slice.

Meanwhile, add the breadcrumbs, parsley, grated parmesan, eggs, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper to a large bowl. Mix with a fork or clean hands until combined.

Once chilled, transfer the thighs to a cutting board. Slice the thighs into thin strips, about ¼ inch, then cut them crosswise into small cubes. Add to the breadcrumb mixture. Mix thoroughly until combined.

Portion the meatball mixture into 25 equal amounts on a sheet pan, then roll into meatballs and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet pan from the fridge and make sure meatballs are spaced evenly apart. Position an oven rack about 6 to 8 inches below the broiler then turn the broiler on. Cook, turning the meatballs once or twice until as evenly browned as you can get them and until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the stove-top to cool slightly before serving. (Alternatively, you can roast at 425° F, toasting the meatballs, until golden brown, about 20 minutes).

While the meatballs are broiling, add the stock (and the parmesan rind, if using) to a Dutch oven or large pot and bring to a boil. Season with salt, stir in the couscous, and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.

To serve, place a big handful of arugula into each serving bowl. Next top with meatballs, and ladle the broth and couscous over them. Stir in fresh lemon juice, generously shave parmesan over the top, followed by a liberal drizzle of the Agrumato Lemongrass & Basil Olive Oil. Add more black pepper, if desired.