Meatball & Pecorino Soup

I am lucky enough to work at a food company!  One perk is the occasional cooking class that is offered.  I've tried to go to several but they are so popular they use a lottery system to determine who actually gets into the class and, well, I'm generally not that lucky.  I didn't win the lottery last week either, but found someone who wanted to part with a couple of tickets so I was able to go.

The class was "Small Bites:  Holiday Appetizers That Won't Expand Your Waistline."  The General Mills Cooking Club (of which I am now a member!) picked 8 or 10 recipes out of the Small Bites cookbook by Jennifer Joyce and divided the participants so we each made one.

I was at a station that had the terribly difficult recipe for dipping strawberries in chocolate!  They were then rolled in toasted hazelnuts.  Very yummy, but I hope you go the hint of sarcasm with the level of difficulty.

Other appetizers included Romesco Dip with Roasted Baby Potatoes, Meatball and Pecorino Soup, Three-tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Croutons, Rolled Zucchini Ribbons with Mint, Chili Pepper, and Goat Cheese, Gorgonzola Crostini with Seared Garlic Greens and Raisins and Crab and Gruyere Nachos with Charred Tomato Salsa.

My favorites from the night were the Gorgonzola Crostini and the Meatball and Pecorino Soup.  I liked the soup so much I made a batch yesterday for dinner.  In fact, I made a double batch!

The original recipe calls for lamb meatballs.  I'm not a big fan of lamb and in the class we used pork so I used pork.  You could use turkey or even beef and the recipe would still be great.

The recipe is a bit putzy but so worth it.  The soup has yummy kale and caramelized onions along with the cute little meatballs.

You start by caramelizing the onions.  I love how the kitchen smells when onions are cooking!

While the onions are cooking, the kale is blanched for about 4 minutes then tossed in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Then the meatballs!  These are a pretty standard meatball recipe, starting with bread soaked in milk to make sure they stay moist!

The recipe calls for frying the meatballs.  Since I was making a double batch and had a lot of meatballs to cook, I did them in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  I just put them in a jelly roll pan with some stock and they come out of the oven delicious and, more importantly, all at the same time.

Once all the components are cooked you throw it all together in a pot to let the flavors meld.  Of course I used the pot in which I caramelized the onions to get all those yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan!

I served it with three different crostinis, caprese, shallot, ham and gruyere and apple with Maytag blue cheese.  Dave loved it too!

Here's the recipe!

Meatball and Pecorino Soup

NOTES : These tiny meatballs combine with the pungent greens, caramelized onion, and sharp pecorino cheese, creating a satisfying soup.  Veal can be used in place of the pork.
The onions can be caramelized 2 days in advance.  The soup may also be frozen for up to 4 weeks.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions -- thinly sliced
8  ounces kale -- chopped
3 cups low-fat chicken broth
2 ounces pecorino cheese -- shaved in slivers for garnish
1 slice white bread
2 tablespoons skim milk
8 ounces  pork -- ground
1/2 clove garlic -- finely chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese -- grated
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil -- for frying
Salt and pepper -- to taste

To make the soup, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan.  Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and fry for about 10 minutes until the onions are golden-brown and caramelized.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add the chopped kale and cook for about 4 minutes, making sure it is cooked but still firm.  Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

To make the meatballs, place the bread in a medium-sized bowl, spoon the milk over to soften, and break up the bread with your fingers.  Add the remaining meatball ingredients and mix well.  Using floured  hands, roll the mixture into 1/2 inch balls.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a nonstick frying pan, add the meatballs, and fry.  Turn regularly, until browned and crisp.

Add the kale, stock and meatballs to the onions in the saucepan, and heat through.  Ladle into cups or bowls, and sprinkle with the pecorino.

  "8 cups"

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 310 Calories; 20g Fat (53.0% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 102mg Cholesterol; 1081mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 3 Fat.

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