Smoky Spanish Meatball Soup

Serves 6 – 8

Scrumptious smoky meatballs in this rich broth. This is a delicious meal in a bowl. Perfect for a cold winter night.

12 ounces ground veal
12 ounces ground ground beef
3 medium cloves garlic, 1 minced, 2 thinly sliced
2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup panko
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon saffron
4 cups chicken broth
15 ounces can crushed tomatoes
8 ounces angel hair pasta, broken into thirds
1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Using your hands, gently mix the veal and beef with the minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Add the egg, and panko, and gently mix until the meat absorbs the breadcrumbs.

To form the meatballs, set a small bowl of cold water nearby and, occasionally moistening your hands, gently roll 1-1/2 -oz. portions of the meat into balls; you should get about 20. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add half of the meatballs, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

Pour off all of the fat. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the sliced garlic to the pot. Return the pot to medium heat and cook until the garlic sizzles, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, and the saffron; cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Return the meatballs to the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the meatballs cook through (160°F), about 25 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well, return to the pot, and toss with 1/2 cup of the broth.

To serve, mound the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with the meatballs and broth, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

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