I love soup. Paula Deen loves soup, or so I learned from watching loads of Food Network yesterday while I sniffled through my day. She had a whole episode dedicated to soup, then at the end, she made these cute little Mason jars, decorated with gingham fabric and little bows to deliver to sick friends.
I wish Paula Deen lived near me. I wish she was on my doorstep with a little Mason jar. I wouldn't even care which soup she brought me. Okay, yes I would. I hate minestrone and I hate vegetable (don't ask me why; I think it's one of those "my mother made me eat them when I was a kid" things). But I would take about any other soup in her repertoire.
My favorites are French Onion and Italian Wedding Soup. And Pea Soup (I know, that's one of those you really have to love, but my mom...oh, she made the best pea soup from leftover ham! And there was this really good one I used to get at the Magic Pan in Boston, with a Monte Christo sandwich...yummy). I also love New England Clam Chowder, but don't make it here in the Midwest because I can't get fresh clams. I know, I can use canned ones but they just aren't the same. Panera makes great soup, and there's this little coffee shop here that has a great Tomato Basil soup. And a good homemade Chicken Noodle can make me your friend for life.
Mamma's Italian Wedding Soup from The Devil Served Tortellini, though, is one I make a dozen times a year. And never share :-). It is one of those soups that is WORTH making with homemade chicken stock (which really isn't all that tough to make). I do usually cheat and use store-bought (but high-quality) Italian style meatballs because making meatballs isn't one of my favorite things to do, but chicken stock I will do (it's a pretty easy thing to do, even in a Crock-Pot).
Here's the recipe (if you want more of Mamma's recipes, you'll just have to buy my book ;-):
Mamma Pagliano’s “My-Daughter-is-Never Going-to-Get-Married” Italian Wedding Soup
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs, sprinkled with hope
1 egg, from a fertile chicken
1 tablespoon parsley
4 cups chicken broth, made by a married mother who cares
2 cups spinach leaves, ripped into pieces like your no-grandchildren-yet heart
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix with love, all the while begging the Lord to bring a man into your daughter’s life, and soon. Form into tiny meatballs, then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Bless the stove with the sign of the cross, then bring the broth to a boil and add the spinach. Cover and boil for five minutes, muttering a prayer for a happy marriage with enough steam to bring lots of grandchildren into the world. Add the cooked meatballs, dropping each one in with a whispered mantra for upcoming nuptials.
Stir in the cheese and serve to a good Italian boy who has marriage on his mind. :-)
Now, if Paula Deen really loved me (well, first, if she knew I existed, and then, knew where I lived, and third, was going to the trouble to cook for one romance writer with a cold), she'd make a stock, throw in some meatballs and pour this into a mason jar and deliver it to my door. I'd even forego the gingham on the top and the ribbon. Just bring it on over with a box of Kleenex please :-)