I have this weird obsession for mini things.
I internally freak out whenever I see miniature kitchen supplies (even though I know they are sometimes a bit pointless), miniature foods, miniature plants, miniature paper goods, miniature ceramics and the list goes on. This is so much so that for one Christmas my sister Kristen gave me a set of ramekins because every time we would browse inside a kitchen store I would point them out and go ga-ga at how cute they were.
So naturally, when I made this meatball soup, the pasta and the meatballs had to be bite-sized and miniature. None of this extra-large stuff like the meatballs that are served at Buca di Beppo. If given the choice, I'd rather have 10 mini meatballs than 1 large one the size of a tennis ball.
This soup starts off with a mirepoix which is just a fancy word for chopped carrots, onion and celery. Plus it's fun to say even though I'm terrible with foreign languages. *mirepoix*
Combine the chopped carrots, onions, and celery with the beef broth, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the meatballs. Soak bread in water to cover. Squeeze out the extra water and tear into pea-sized pieces. Add to the ground beef along with the egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix together thoroughly. This is done best using your hands but if that's too messy a spatula will work too.
Melt oil and butter in a skillet. Using a teaspoon, scoop out portions of the meat and roll between the palms of your hands to form tiny meatballs.
Sauté the meatballs on medium heat until lightly brown on all sides. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on a paper towel. Continue in batches until all meatballs are browned.
Add the meatballs and pasta to the broth and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Discard the bay leaves. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh Italian bread.
Perfect for these cool spring evenings while they last.
Mini Meatball Soup
Adapted from Mary's Bread Basket and Soup Kettle by Mary Gubser
Yields: 8-10 servings // Total Time: 1 hour