September 30 – October 6, 2019
Monday: Engagement Party Leftover Grazing
Tuesday: Grilled Brats with refrigerator review Slaw
Wednesday: Barbacoa de Pollo
Thursday: Marisa’s Wedding Soup
Friday: Doc’s Sunset Grille (crab shack in Oxford, Maryland)
Saturday: Eastern Shore celebration of Dick’s 70th
Sunday: Herbed Goat Cheese with Crudités
On Turning 70 and Wedding Soup
Last weekend we (along with Hilda and Tim) attended a great party at Dick and Hilly’s place on the Eastern Shore. Dick will turn 70 later this month and friends and family came from across the country to help him celebrate. If there are two more hospitable people on earth than Dick and Hilly, they must be in the hotel business. Dick and Hilly have had us to their beautiful home many times, and last weekend took us to play a round of golf on Friday, to a great crab house that night, and Hilly and her daughter Blair joined us for lunch on Saturday, and the whole crew wined and dined us that evening. To descend from hospitality to food, which is, after all, the subject of this blog: The food at the party – brisket, shrimp, thousands of oysters on the half-shell, and horse doovers – was spectacular. And all of Dick and Hilly’s friends are as wonderful and interesting as we are – as difficult as that may be to believe. And so, by the way, are their daughters, Blair and Alex.
We can’t cook like the caterer who put together Dick’s party, but you probably can’t either, so what are you complaining about? But you can cook as well as we can, and last week we cooked a pretty marvelous soup that will stand all of us in good stead as the nights get colder and the days get shorter.
We got this recipe, for Wedding Soup, from TABLE, a fancy, local magazine flogging kitchen remodeling, real estate, high end gifts and restaurants but also with stories and recipes from the Pittsburgh area. It compares with this blog as paté de foie gras compares with chopped liver. Frankly, I like both, though I prefer the cost of chopped liver and its lack of pretention. Moreover, you have to thumb through two hundred pages of TABLE just to find a few recipes. But we’ve done that for you, so you can pretty much cut to the chase.
Though not quite yet. When you order Wedding Soup at a restaurant, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Will it be a rich, long-simmered broth with pasta thrown in at the end and cooked to perfection, or a quick reheat with those micro-meatballs and gummy pasta cooked the day before? And even good restaurants have trouble seasoning this reach mixture of chicken, pasta and greens.
Here’s the solution – don’t order out – make this soup yourself. It is not difficult, though it does take some chopping. If you’re smart and popular enough, you’ll want to enlist help in making the meatballs which can be tedious. This soup goes perfectly with some parmesan crostini. And this version will help you to discover why it’s called ‘Wedding Soup.’ It’s simple – anyone who can cook like this is worth marrying.
Marissa’s Wedding Soup
(adapted from Table magazine, fall, 2019)
Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Ingredients: Serves at least 6 – 8 as a main course, and maybe 15 as a first course.
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground chicken
1/ cup bread crumbs
1 ½ teaspoons of granulated garlic
¼ Cup of chopped parsley
¼ Cup of grated Parmesan or Pecorino
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
For the soup:
All of the above meatballs, or ½ of the meatballs and 1 cup of cooked, shredded chicken
Note: We used all meatballs – the shredded chicken would make for an even richer soup
1 cup small dried pasta (acini di pepe is perfect for this)
2 ½ Quarts of Chicken Stock (we used about ¾ cup of water, since we ran out of stock)
2 cups of chopped greens (the recipe suggested equal amounts of spinach and escarole)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped Spanish onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 pinches each of Kosher salt, ground pepper and granulated garlic. NOTE: We used more salt – Kosher salt is much less salty than table salt – and did not add more granulated garlic.
Measure out ingredients for the meatballs
Make the meatballs:
Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Relax, put on some good music, and take your time rolling the chicken mixture into ½” diameter balls and place on an oiled plate. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Now chop the vegetables, shred the chicken (if using) and measure out the ingredients for the soup.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven to medium. Add the vegetables and the seasonings and sauté over medium for about 6 minutes, until softened.
Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the meatballs, or, if using the shredded chicken, just ½ of the meatballs (you’ll add the shredded chicken later) and cook for 10 minutes. Note: If you made larger meatballs, cook a bit longer – until chicken meatballs are cooked through.
Now add the pasta, bring back to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped greens and the shredded chicken (if using) and cook 5 minutes more.
Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Serve with Parmesan Crostini. Enjoy. Marry the cook.