These past several weeks have been marked by tragic headlines – hurricanes whipping coastal cities and neighboring islands, floods devastating Texas, forest fires chasing up the state of California, and a mass shooting in Las Vegas.
These natural disasters and national tragedies weigh heavy on my heart. They push those in the eye of the storm into survival mode. First responders are called from all corners. And the rest of us must shoulder deep grief from afar. It’s easy to start processing all our feelings online and neglect face-to-face time with our family and friends.
With all the heaviness, I find myself hungry for more time with my people, and that requires being intentional.
I know I need to pull my girlies and my husband close and tell them I love them.
I know I need to carve out space to grieve together.
I know I need to lean into the loss and sift the feelings of fear that creep in.
That’s why I started thinking about comfort food this morning. Comfort food is something warm I serve up at my table for the purpose of gathering people and sharing our souls. Comfort food takes a while to assemble and cook. The time is important. We can’t offer comfort to one another in a rush either.
Today I’m sharing a recipe for one of our family’s favorite soups: Italian Wedding Soup. This one can feed a crowd. We serve it up in both the grief and the joy. The marriage of hearty vegetables and meatballs nourish the stomach and the soul well.
I’ve discovered that when I invite my kids into the kitchen to help me cook, it affords us time to talk, process, grieve and encourage one another. My Giada loves rolling meatballs, and Meilani is great at measuring ingredients. Zayla is good at stirring the vegetables in the pot. And everyone is good at the tasting part!
I encourage you in these difficult times to gather your people, maybe invite your neighbors and rev up a pot of Italian Wedding Soup.
For soup base:
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup ham or bacon, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon parsley
1 bay leaf
1 can cannellini (white kidney beans)
2 cups spinach or kale leaves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Approx. 30 small meatballs (You may use already prepared meatballs or mix the following ingredients together and roll your own meatballs.)
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix together ingredients for meatballs and roll into bite-sized balls.
- Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake meatballs for approximately 10 minutes so the meatballs will hold their shape in the soup.
- Meanwhile, put a large soup pot or Dutch oven on the stove and heat olive oil at medium heat.
- Chop onions, carrots, celery and ham and add to pot.
- Mince garlic and add to pot.
- Stir ingredients and heat until softened.
- Add chicken broth, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, parsley and bay leaf.
- Simmer 20 minutes over low heat.
- Drop meatballs into simmering soup.
- Cook approximately 10 more minutes.
- Add beans, spinach leaves and Parmesan cheese. Keep heat on low and cook 5 more minutes.