I'm pretty sure the only two places I've ever had Italian wedding soup were at weddings or at the small restaurant where I worked during high school, but it's always been a favorite. The little meatballs and the greens make for such a good combination! Since I've been on such a soup kick this winter, I knew I had to finally attempt a homemade version of this soup. Given Shane's feelings about carrots and greens (hint, they're not positive), I originally planned to make the soup just for me and eat it for lunch. Then I noticed that the recipe said "serves 10" and decided I definitely didn't want to eat it that many days...
Instead, I threw it on the menu for dinner one night and hoped for the best. Shane's actually been pretty good about eating veggies in soups this winter, especially if the soup also happens to include meat and pasta. Progress! I adapted the original recipe just a bit - it called for beans, which neither of us likes, so I omitted and replaced with pasta. I also baked the meatballs instead of browning them on the stove top - I think it's easier, plus one less pan to wash is always a good thing :) We served the soup with a little bit of garlic bread. When I saw Shane go back for a second bowl of soup, I knew it was a hit! I really enjoyed it too, and was surprised by how filling it was. A full recipe will serve two people for several meals as a main course (perhaps more). It's one of the healthier soups I've made this winter, and has definitely earned a spot in the dinner rotation for the next few months!
Italian Wedding Soup
adapted from Williams-Sonoma
2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon (about 3 cloves) minced garlic, divided
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 lb ground pork
1 1/4 cups ditalini pasta (or other small shape)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine the chicken broth, water, carrots, 2 teaspoons of the garlic, and the kale in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, the remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the ground pork and use your hands to gently incorporate the meat - don't overmix. Use a small cookie scoop to portion the mixture into roughly 1-inch meatballs and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
Once the carrots are tender, and while the meatballs are baking, add the pasta to the soup. Continue simmering until the pasta is tender (check the package for cooking time). Add the meatballs to the soup (heat briefly to rewarm if necessary). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each bowl of soup with more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano before serving, if desired.