Italian Wedding Soup / by Anthony Michael Contrino

Nothing makes me happier than stepping outside in the morning and being jarred awake by brisk air.  If I could live in a hoodie, I'd be a happy camper.  

After a long day in the studio, I love coming home to my apartment, lighting the fireplace and warming up some leftover soup.  This is one of my favorite soups, and I make it by the vat.  If you are going to freeze the leftovers, cook the pasta separately and do not add it to the pot of soup, otherwise it will get mushy.

PS.  Sorry for the lack of a picture.  I was too hungry to set up a shot!! ;)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 1/2 cups carrot medallions, about 8 carrots

2 1/2 cups sliced celery, about 6  celery stalks

2 1/2 cups chopped white onion, about 2 large onions

10 cloves garlic, sliced

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 quarts vegetable stock

4 sprigs fresh thyme

Mini Meatballs, recipe follows

1/2 pound small pasta

1 bunch kale, stems removed, ripped to chunks

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pecorino cheese, for serving

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the carrots, celery and onion and sauté until they begin to caramelize, stirring often, about 15-20 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté and additional 2 minutes.  Add the red pepper flakes and tomato paste; stir until the paste is fully incorporated.  Add the stock and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Add the meatballs and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Add the pasta and kale and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve with grated pecorino cheese.

Mini Meatballs // Makes approximately 3 dozen

1 pound 80/20 ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 egg

1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until fully combined.  Roll the meat into balls the size of a gum ball.