Pears in Broth

Guest recipe by Francine Segan
Author of Shakespeare's Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook

It isn't only kids who love to play with their food. Back in Shakespeare's time chefs loved to sculpt meat, marzipan, and dough into various shapes. The meatballs for this soup are formed into the shape of a pear (or if you artistically challenged, just a simple round apple). They are fun to make and have an extra surprise. There is a grape in the center, which gives the savory meatball a wonderful sweet and tangy taste. This delicious soup is easy enough for a mid-week family meal, but impressive enough for company. Serves 6

8 ounces ground beef, turkey, veal or pork
1/4 cup dried whole wheat bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cloves
12 small seedless grapes
12 sage or parsley leaves, with stems
1 1/2 quarts ready-made stock, simmered with dried fruits

Combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, egg, thyme, parsley, salt and cloves in a bowl. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions. Wrap each portion of meat around a grape and form a pear shape. 
Preheat the broiler. Place the pears upright on a well-greased pan, and broil 4 to 5 inches from the flame for 4 minutes, or until done. Using a toothpick, gently insert a sage leaf into the top of each pear.
Carefully place 2 pears in each serving bowl and ladle the warm stock around the pears.