Don't wait for a wedding to make this delicious and comforting soup with kale, tiny pasta, and tender little beef meatballs.

Recipe Summary

prep:
30 mins
cook:
4 hrs 40 mins
additional:
1 hr
total:
6 hrs 10 mins
Servings:
8
Yield:
8 servings
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Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Beef Stock:
Meatballs:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat; brown beef shank slice in hot oil until seared and browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Add onion, carrot, celery, water, bay leaf, 3 cloves peeled garlic, and black peppercorns; bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat falls off the bone and stock turns brown in color, 4 to 5 hours. Add more water if beef stock level gets below about 5 cups.

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  • Place beef short ribs into freezer until firm and very cold, about 15 minutes. Cut meat into cubes and return to freezer until almost frozen, about 30 more minutes.

  • Whisk egg with parsley, 2 cloves garlic, and cream in a bowl. Stir in bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

  • Place partially-frozen beef cubes into food processor and pulse with with 1/3 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper until beef is coarsely ground, 5 to 10 pulses. Pulse in bread crumb mixture until mixture is finely ground, about 5 more pulses. Transfer meat to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

  • Strain beef stock into a large soup pot, discarding beef and vegetables. Mix chicken broth into beef stock and whisk in tomato paste. Bring broth mixture to a simmer and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir kale into broth; simmer kale until tender, about 15 minutes.

  • Scoop 2-teaspoon portions of the meat mixture and roll into meatballs.

  • Pour pastina into the simmering soup, cook for 5 minutes, and gently add meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes. Serve in bowls garnished with a pinch of black pepper or a sprinkle of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Cook's Note:

To make fresh bread crumbs, cut crusts from fresh Italian bread, cut bread into cubes, and process in a food processor into fine crumbs, 10 to 30 seconds.

Nutrition Facts

214 calories; protein 14.5g; carbohydrates 16.8g; fat 10.2g; cholesterol 47mg; sodium 712.9mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (16)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
08/26/2014
For those wondering where the ground beef is The recipe has you use a food processor to coarsely grind the beef and combine it with the meatball ingredients. Overall this is an amazing recipe and everyone should give it a try. Read More
(8)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 1 stars
08/19/2019
23 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 19
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
08/26/2014
For those wondering where the ground beef is The recipe has you use a food processor to coarsely grind the beef and combine it with the meatball ingredients. Overall this is an amazing recipe and everyone should give it a try. Read More
(8)
Rating: 5 stars
12/30/2016
This is probably the fussiest and most labor intensive Italian-American Wedding Soup that you will ever make. It also is one of the very best if you use really good chicken stock (preferably homemade)and the beef with bones as recommended. The compound stock is very silky do to the gelatin and has outstanding flavor with the other ingredients providing a perfect harmony of taste and texture. If making this I strongly suggest quadrupling the stock and freezing it as I guarantee that you will find other uses for it. My Grandma Li has always made compound stocks but usually uses pork instead of beef . So when she tried her hand at the recipe she made hers with pork instead of beef which is also great but we like the Chef John's original version best - Brandon, the Twins, Pops, and Aunt Gina BTW - This deserves much more than 5 Stars but that is all we could give it. Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
01/17/2015
Delicious. Made this tonight and it is so tasty. I had lots of greens in frig so used one 10 oz packages of Kale and 1 pkg Southern Greens from Trader Joe's with eggs, heavy whipping cream and bread. Made meatballs with 1 pound ground beef and one pound ground pork gently turning with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Now don't get mad at me Purists, but had to also use Herbs de Provence because because my Anise had walked away and I thought Herbs de Provence would do fine in the meatballs. Baked meatballs and added just before I served. Couldn't find Pastina at the fancy grocery store where I bought the Beef Shank but they did have tiny Italian pasta Alphabet things so added those. Strongly recommend using baking sheet for meatballs-used Foil and it was a mess until I rescued the meatballs to a baking pan. Since I am the only one here who loves pasta, now I have lots of meatballs for pasta which I will make and enjoy in secret. Read More
(4)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/07/2015
Chef John, I have not made this yet....I definitely want to try it, but I was wondering, why do you not just use ground beef instead of using a food processor to grind it? Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
03/15/2016
Made this for our annual neighborhood "Soupzilla" competition...(.tied for first place). Meatballs are a little time consuming, but well worth it. Followed the recipe exactly; just found that I like it a little saltier, which was easily fixed! Will definitely keep this on my favorites list. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
01/02/2017
"Stupid inertia!" Haha! Chef John you are so funny - as well as a great chef with great teaching style. This soup is fantastic! Read More
(1)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/11/2016
This was so tasty! And I will use the meatball portion of this recipe next time I make meatballs-- these were the best I've ever had! Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
01/31/2019
A lot of ingredients but definitely worth it! Great taste and wonderful for cold winter nights! I used different pasta and spinach instead of kale. Will make again! Thanks Chef John! Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
03/13/2019
Next time I make this recipe I will triple it worth the effort. Read More
(1)
Rating: 1 stars
08/19/2019
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