I've been battling a wicked virus. The main symptoms are a cough, exhaustion, and a lost voice. Or an almost lost voice, rather. My talker sounds like a mix between a frog, a purring cat, and a bag pipes (but without the tootling). I'm on Day Ten of nastiness and while I'm functioning well enough, I still have no desire (and possibly no ability) to go running, or even for a vigorous walk.
When my affliction first struck, I bent over backwards taking care of myself: lots of fluids, sleep, cough drops, rest, vitamins, and more sleep. But when the illness drug on, I despaired. I would never get better, it was clear. I would be sick for the rest of my life. So I quit babying myself and slipped into an apathetic stupor. There was lots of heavy sighing followed by violent coughing fits.
Then several days ago I decided I simply had to buck up and kick this thing. I decided to make a killer cure-all soup and eat it round the clock.
I knew exactly which soup I wanted: Italian Wedding Soup. When we traveled to Chattanooga for Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law served us this soup the first night we arrived. She couldn't have chosen a better post-travel supper. After being stuck in a stale car and subsisting on crunchy carbs and fast food for an entire day, the spinach-packed broth with turkey meatballs was just the fortification I craved. Along with the soup, she served bread, and there was small pasta to add to the soup, but I skipped both in favor of a second bowl of the brothy lusciousness.
Back home, I bought all the soup ingredients straight off, so earlier this week when I decided it was that soup I needed, I was prepared. I made a double batch. It was so amazingly perfect. Light, protein-packed turkey meatballs, rich, flavorful turkey broth, mountains of silky soft veggies…
We ate it for supper that night, then I had it for lunch the next day, and then I served it for supper again the next night (at which point I called it Deja Vu Soup). And then it was gone. What a bummer.
But guess what? I am better now! Not all better, but notably so. I'm crediting the soup.
PS. Along with being a great soup for sickies and the perfect meal to end a long day of car travel, this soup is also a fabulous antidote to All The December Sugar. Serve it pre- (or post-) sugar bomb party and you'll feel practically virtuous, even if you do end up eating a dozen cookies yourself.
PPS. I went on a run/walk this morning! (I wrote this post yesterday.) It felt amazing, even with the wheezing.
Italian Wedding Soup
My sister-in-law adapted her recipe from the one found on Good Life Eats Blog, and I, in turn, adapted mine from both of theirs.
I recommend using the full amount of broth, and possibly more, especially if you have a rich, homemade stock on hand. I started my soup with less stock, but added another quart during one of the reheats. Towards the end, when we were down to just veggies and meatballs, I was kicking myself for not adding even more stock.
The raw meatballs are rather sticky. I ended up dolloping them onto the baking tray, à la cookie dough, instead of actually rolling the meat into balls.
Considering the fact that 'tis the season for car travel, illness, and sugar, might I kindly suggest that you make a quadruple batch? I suspect it freezes well, though I wouldn't know for sure, seeing as we wasted no time slurping it into oblivion.
for the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
½ cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon each basil, oregano, black pepper, and garlic powder
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
Combine all ingredients. Shape into small balls, or dollop them as though they were cookie dough, and place a sided baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until no longer pink inside. Add to soup, or, if saving for later, place in a container and freeze or refrigerate.
for the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 quarts chicken broth
1 quart canned tomatoes
1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon each dried oregano and dried basil
3-4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 12-ounce frozen package chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and well-squeezed
black pepper and salt, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Saute the onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, vinegar, and herbs. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and heat through. Add the meatballs and heat through. Add the salt and pepper; don't be shy. Serve with buttered toast, and don't forget the Parm.
This same time, years previous: in my kitchen (sort of): 4:15 p.m., hot chocolate mix, iced, stuffing, pimento cheese spread, the quotidian (12.12.11), Sunday vignettes: human anatomy, Ree's monkey bread, and cashew brittle.