Take the sausage meat out of the casings. (Discard the casings.) Pinch off little sections of meat and roll them into mini meatballs.
Place a large non-stick skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meatballs and sauté until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. Alternatively, you can skip this step and add the raw meatballs straight into the broth as soon as it simmers and cook the soup for the full 15 minutes required by the recipe.
In a large pot set over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and stir for 1 minute. Add the chopped kale and stir, making sure the garlic and crushed red pepper get mixed into the kale, until the kale loses most of its volume, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, dry pasta, and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the sauteed sausage meatballs, then keep cooking for 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
SERVING: Serve the Italian wedding soup sprinkled with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
STORAGE: Fish out the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind out of the soup. Divide the Italian wedding soup between airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Italian wedding soup is traditionally made with escarole. If you’re lucky enough to find it, make sure to use it in this recipe! Or substitute readily available kale, Swiss chard, or spinach.
If you buy wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano, never throw away the rinds! Once you’ve used all the cheese, collect the rinds in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container in the freezer to use later. A single piece of rind adds a ton of flavor and depth to Italian wedding soup. If you don’t have saved rinds but have a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand, you can simply cut off the rind to add it to the soup. If you don’t have either, you can simply omit it from the recipe.
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