Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wedding Soup Fed My Christmas Soul

It’s not that I didn’t want to go visit my mother-in-law that day.  I love to visit her.  She’s a delightful woman and has always been generous and loving to me.  But when Mr. Rosemary said he wanted to go visit his mother that day, I was grateful he couldn’t see my face because I’m sure it looked pretty sour (and he can always read exactly what I’m thinking.) 

And what I was thinking was this:  “How can he possibly think I have time to do that?  This is the first day in a string of ten or twelve that we didn’t have something important we had to get done, somewhere we had to go, all priorities higher than Christmas.   I needed this day to get ready!   Doesn’t he realize that the kids were coming this weekend for our Christmas together and the house was a wreck and there was so much to get done, so fast – decorating, shopping, cleaning, cooking, baking, wrapping!  Has he gone bonkers?”

“Go by yourself,” I wanted to say.

But from a deep somewhere, instead of blurting anything like that out loud, I found a little voice of calm and reason that reminded me, “It will all get done. You know it will. You’ll figure out a way.”   And even though I know she would love a quiet little tete a tete with him, I knew he wanted me to come along, too.
In the midst of this private conversation, I got a brilliant idea:  I’d make soup for lunch, wedding soup, one of her favorites and mine.  I could be in the kitchen making the soup while he and she had a nice visit in the next room.  I could picture it already.   I quickly did a mental inventory, decided I had enough of what I needed and told Mr. Rosemary my idea.  He agreed. So, I packed up the stuff and off we went.  A half-hour later, I was in her kitchen rolling little meatballs and they were chatting away.

Then, we all sat down to lunch and had a nice visit all together.  I cleaned up and we went back home.  On the way home, Mr. Rosemary said, “That was a nice day.”

And I had to agree.  Yes, it was.

Now that the biggest part of the holiday hustle and bustle is over (and everything I wanted to get done did indeed get done), I can reflect and honestly say that of all the sweet moments I had sharing Christmas hospitality with friends and family that day I didn't want to happen somehow was the sweetest.  Genuine, spontaneous, and warm.

I hope you had a special Christmas moment, too.

  * * * * *

I often make wedding soup. But with a lot of flexibility. I can make it without a recipe, although sometimes I get pretty elaborate.  Sometimes it’s very simple.  The batch I made that day was somewhere in between.   I often will make up a whole bunch of meatballs, stick them on a cookie sheet to freeze, then bag them for later; this time I made them fresh.  I also usually poach the meatballs in the broth but some people prefer to bake them first.  There’s a minor argument in the family about what pasta shape to use.  I’m a traditionalist and prefer acini di pepe, although I did use orzo in the batch pictured.  And I have used rice.  Some people in the family prefer bigger ditalini or even shells.  The only requirement is some kind of pasta.  Some people like chicken pieces, some don’t.  Escarole, chard,spinach, just some green. Maybe carrots, celery and onions.  Ideally you should cook the pasta separately then pour the soup over the warm pasta.  (Otherwise the pasta absorbs all the broth.)  The version I made that day was an marriage of some of all of these.  And it was smaller than usual, enough for a threesome lunch and leftovers for Gigi.

One day I’ll post about my elaborate way; in the meantime, here’s my simpler version:

A Simple Wedding Soup
Makes about 8 servings

For the Meatballs
½ pound ground beef
½ - ¾  cup seasoned dry bread crumbs, moistened with a little milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ small onion, grated
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese grated
For the Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, cleaned and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, clean and finely chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
1 46 ounce can of chicken broth
½ box frozen chopped spinach
½ cup acini di pepe
Extra Parmesan cheese, for serving

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs.  (Add more crumbs if the mix is too wet.) Shape into small balls, no more than one inch in diameter.  Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the oil.  Cook the carrots, celery and onion just until softened.  Add the broth.  Bring to a boil then add the spinach, acini di pepe and meatballs.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook  until meatballs are done and pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Cook's note:  I use a serrated knife and a bit of muscle to cut the box of frozen spinach in half and quickly put one half in a baggie and back in the freezer.


  1. That's soul comforting and warming soup!

  2. I have never made my own but I can envision the calming effect it would have being in the kitchen, rolling little meatballs and reflecting.

  3. Sometimes we just need to stop and take a breather to realize that while holidays can be hectic, time with family is the most important.
    I love wedding soup and have never had the homemade version, so I am sure I would really enjoy this! Thanks for this simplified recipe-more incentive to make it at home. It looks delicious.

  4. What a sweet daughter-in-law you are!!! Your simple wedding soup sounds like mine...and reminds me I haven't made it yet since the weather has turned. Hope you had a fabulous Christmas, Rosemary!

  5. This has always been on yo my make list. Thank you for sharing this recipe; will make my husband very happy in the new year.

  6. Now you did it! I want the soup. So I shall make the soup. We have animated discussions regarding pasta shapes. Nice to know other people do, too. "Christmas moments" are really what I live for all year.

  7. Such a comforting soup, and that does sound like a nice day. It's been hectic for me lately, too, but it's always nice to slow down a bit.

  8. What a heartwarming story, Rosemary! Love the way you interpreted. I could almost feel as if I was in the same room with you!
    Such a nice gesture on your part to make the beautiful Wedding Soup at your mother-in-law's for lunch. Your husband sounds like a "gem" caring about his mother like that; and you are such a gracious lady, I really admire your grace, gesture and kindness. Kudos to you:DDD
    Soup looks delicious!

  9. I LOVE wedding soup! So great for winter.

  10. I have a love for this soup, too, and I think your recipe is better than the CIA one I've been using. Looks delicious!

  11. Great story. Those moments are what you'll remember...not the frantic stuff in the house or whether or not you managed to clean under the toilet seat lid :) Glad you went!

  12. Sometimes it is so easy to lose focus on why we run around crazy during the holidays to begin with! It's great that you could take a deep breath and refocus. I know how hard that can be! Glad you had a great time.

  13. Such a lovely story told with warmth and candor. Thank you for it and for a delicious recipe as well!

  14. Rosemary, that was beautiful! What a very nice thing to do for both your husband and your mother-in-law. Truly, you were filled with the Christmas Spirit!

  15. Lovely soup recipe and an interesting story to read. I enjoy the recipes told with a story.

  16. Just dropping by to wish you a joyful 2012 and to let you know this soup is on my agenda next week. Happy 2012 - may it bring delicious days and joys.

  17. I pop in to wish you and your family A Very Happy New Year. May 2012 be filled with love, hope, happiness, peace and good health. Hugs.

  18. Haven't made Italian wedding soup in many a year, but it used to be one of my faves. I guess I'm just too lazy to roll meatballs now. It sure is good though.

  19. I'm sure GiGi appreciated the soup and the good company :) What a lovely idea you had!

  20. I've been looking for a good wedding soup recipe - so happy to have found one on your site! I was browsing through your recipes and got sucked in to your cauliflower "tater tots!" I've done the cauliflower "rice" and "mash" but the tater tot idea is wonderful! Great recipes!


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