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If using artichokes: trim the leaves from the artichokes, remove the choke, and peel the stem. Drop each into acidulated water as finished. Drain the hearts and place in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water, to which 1 tablespoon of salt has been added, then add then add the juice of 1 lemon and the flour. Bring to a boil and cook gently over medium-high heat, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the hearts are very tender. Drain and pat dry, then set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the pork, 3 eggs, 1 cup cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste, and mix well. Roll the mixture into small balls, no more than 3/4-inch in diameter. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, over medium heat. Add the meatballs, in batches of 6 or 7, and cook until they are light golden brown. Transfer to a plate as they are cooked. Add the onions to the pan and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon while stirring the onions. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the meatballs and the reserved cardoon/egg mixture. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot.
Brown Chicken Stock:
Yield: 3 quarts