Ok so this soup isn't technically Italian Wedding, but I eat it for the same reasons: cold and rainy days, or just when I'm feeling depressed AF. It's also just my favorite soup to make, so I make it a lot. Placing some stale multi-grain country bread in a bowl and then pouring the soup over it adds the perfect savory rusticity to the dish, which is already exploding with meaty flavor from the sausage meatballs, balanced by the bright freshness of the tomato paste and red wine vinegar. Beans and winter veggies give it body, so just one bowl is enough for dinner (for most people; I usually have two or three). It's summer now, but light summery soups don't lend themselves to making me full, so you get Italian Wedding!
Butter Count: 2 Tbsp
2 Tbsp butter
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 pinches kosher salt
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, grated
5 cups chicken broth
1 Parmesan rind
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves torn
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage
2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Day old multi-grain bread
1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leek, carrot, celery, rosemary, and salt. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften.
2. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Combine the ingredients in the pot and cook about 2 minutes, until you can smell the garlic.
3. Add the chicken broth and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat about 3 hours.
Note: If you prefer your veggies to have more bite, you can just heat about 1 hour, but the end flavor won't be as developed.
4. While the soup simmers, roll the sweet Italian sausage into small balls, a little larger than 1 cm in diameter, and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the spicy Italian sausage.
Note: I like to keep the two meats separate because I like to be surprised with every bite, but you can always mix the two together before forming balls.
5. Heat about 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over high heat until shimmery. Add meatballs in batches. Heat uncovered about 1 minute until the bottoms are very brown, then flip the balls and cook, covered, another minute or two until the other side is also very brown. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel. Repeat this entire step for all of the remaining meat balls.
6. Add the kale to the soup when the tomato flavor is intensified. Cook about 2 minutes before adding the meatballs and the beans.Cook about 5 more minutes.
7. Add the red wine vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Serve in bowls with chunks of crusty bread.