Italian Wedding Soup with Kale and Mini Meatballs

by Catherine Walthers, from Soups + Sides

This soup is a great to serve guests. Depending on your patience (or helpful hands in the kitchen) you can roll the meatballs very small, up to about an inch in diameter. Baking the meatballs in the oven makes the job much quicker.

INGREDIENTS (for the meatballs)

  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs (any bread you have in the house, either crumbed in a food processor or soaked in the water)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper

INGREDIENTS (for the soup)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion (about 2 cups), diced
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 cups thinly sliced kale, (center ribs removed before slicing)
  • 2 cups Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced*
  • 2 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Small hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Make meatballs by mixing the ground beef, bread crumbs, water, parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Roll into approximate 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 375°. Refrigerate the meatballs and begin making the soup.

In a soup pot, heat the oil in a thick-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions for about 10 minutes, until golden, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. Add celery and sauté another 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute over low heat. Add chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Add kale and Savoy cabbage, turn down to simmer, cover and cook about 15 minutes.

While soup is simmering, bake meatballs for about 12 minutes (they don’t brown up as much in the oven as they would sautéed in a pan, but that’s okay). Remove from the oven and add to the soup, simmering about 5 minutes to meld flavors.

Taste the soup and add more salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with a few shavings from the parmesan cheese – a vegetable peeler works great for shaving off nice pieces. Pass the cheese and a grater at the table in case people want to add more cheese.

*Savoy cabbage is the crinkly green cabbage, a bit milder than regular green cabbage, which I don’t think would be as good in this soup. If Savoy cabbage is not available, replace Savoy with escarole.