Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken soup is good for the soul!

My soul is aching and my heart is so sad. I spent the day at Beth's yesterday. The kids were off from school and my brother was returning to work. My nephew got invited to a friends for the day, and my niece and her friend and I did some shopping, had lunch out and came home to sort out the huge stack of cards, mass cards, flowers, etc. Life has gone back to normal for everyone, except for us.

I was glad that I was there, I made some beds, did a load of laundry and tidied up. Not much needed to be done as my brother has been cleaning and tidying non stop. But with any busy family, things will start to pile up. It felt good to be busy. It just felt strange and unnatural to be in Beth's home, with her kids and her personal stuff, and she wasn't there. My niece and I had a few teary moments. I tried to tell her what I believe and that although we don't know the reason, there most surely is one. It seemed so trite of an explanation. Her world is torn apart, and I see the hurt in her tearful eyes.

Later in the afternoon, my nephew came bounding in the door. Rosy cheeks and a smile on his face. Was he disppointed to see me there and not his mom? If so, he didn't show it. But his mind had to be thinking that. I was happy that he had a fun play day, and his mind free of worry and sadness....if only for a little bit.

In my rush to get up there before rush hour traffic, I grabbed a piece of blue cheese as my breakfast, but by lunch I was hungry. I am a breakfast eater, and I should know better. But I didn't stop and think about what I needed. We went to a salad place for lunch and I ordered a nice cobb salad. Would you like white or wheat bread they asked? My usual answer is no bread, thanks. Yesterday it was, wheat please! And I ate the whole big piece. My tastes buds have changed and I was certain it wasn't 100% whole wheat, but I ate it anyway. Here comes  the stress eating. Back at the house, I sipped several cups of green tea. Mostly to ward off the sore throat I felt rapidly coming on. The body reacts to stress in so many ways. I rarely get sick, but I had to see this comng. My niece is sick, my nephew has a cold, and the stress of this horrible ordeal is manifesting in our tired, stressed bodies.

There is a cooler on the back step and miraculously a dinner appeared in it around 5 PM. A big caesar salad, a whole chocolate pound cake, bread, salad dressing and a chicken, rice casserole. A dear friend of mine had made me some chicken soup with little chicken meatballs last week.She brought it to my front door step in a lovely basket with two bottles of wine,  and some homemade parmesan cheese crackers ( don't even ask what happened to them!!). I had taken some of that to the house yesterday too.  I wasn't going to stay for dinner, but I think my brother needed the company. We lit the candles, set the table, said a prayer of thanks, and then had a meal together. I was aware that I was the odd person at the table. That it should have been Beth. But we tried to laugh and chat and act normal. Normal is going to  be restablished in their house.

 My brother looks so worn, so tired, but he puts on a strong front for his children. He's a big tall, handsome man. His hair is blond, but starting to gray ever so slightly. He has a stressful job, be he said he is going to try and be home for the kids each night for dinner. I believe him. He said nothing related to work seems important now. I believe him. While that may be true, he is their only means of support and he needs his job. He has to carry on, whether he wants to or not.

The kids weren't that into the casserole. It was cheesey, and ricey and probably had way too many carbs for me. I had a small amount. But I did enjoy a nice bowl of  chicken soup. It is a Barefoot Contessa recipe that my friend made. It does have some breadcrumbs, but I'm sure that could be modified alittle. It's really good, so I want to share the recipe with you. Ina Garten came up with a good one.  I hope she doesn't mind that I put it on this blog.I have the cookbook this recipe is in, and I have to say I wouldn't have made this or thought it would be so good. Chicken meatballs didn't actually appeal to me. I was wrong. This was warm and comforting and for a little while, we all felt better sipping that hot soup on a dark, sad night.

Thought for the day: Sometimes the answer to prayer is not that it changes life, but that it changes you. -James Dillet Freeman

Italian Wedding Soup

2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time:
30 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
45 min
8 servings


For the meatballs:

  • 3/4 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 10 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan. 


  1. I love that thought, and the soup recipe.
    Thank you for the
    snapshot of your life. This blog is your journal, and one day you can give these words to Beth's children. There will be details they'll forget, and will feel grateful you remembered.

  2. You are truly a blessing to your brother, Beth and your niece and nephew. I'm sure that you were happy to see the smile on your nephews face after the play day.
    Please take care of yourself during this tough time, it is exactly the advice that you would give your brother. I hope this blog is a way for you to get out feelings and emotions.
    Don't let the food demon back in, I know it would be so easy to feed the raw emotions. It will only feel better for a very short amount of time. With that said, chocolate pound cake is a deal breaker for me:)
    Take care my friend. Seriously, take care of yourself so you can be there for others!
    Hugs, and more hugs...hold tight...

  3. HI Pattie, It sounds like you were right where you were supposed to be yesterday. I know they love having you there and it good to hear that you are eating again.
    Have a great day :-)

  4. Hey Pattie! It sounds like that basket is exactly what you needed! The soup sounds lovely. xoxo

  5. I got teary eyed reading your post. You are such a blessing to your brother and those kids right now. God bless you, Pattie! You guys are still in my prayers. Thanks for the recipe - I'm a huge fan of Ina's. Take care!

  6. I love how your nephew had a play date. So many times adults have trouble after someone dies in knowing what to say or do or how to be around the grieving person. But kids are different, they don't think that way, his friend just wanted his friend over to hang out. That is the road back to normal. You are doing a great job in this hard emotional time. Do you know that Ina Garten is my favorite TV chef. I think her recipes are so good, I think I have them all. When I first started the BFC I went through her recipes and put aside all that I could find that would be BFC friendly, or could be easily modified. This Italian Wedding Soup is delicous and you could use ground pork rinds for the breadcrumbs and just leave out the pasta. Yum! Hang in there Pattie, we're here for you.

  7. Patti, I am so glad you can be there for your brother and his children. I know times are really difficult right now and just being there for each other really helps. I am sure Beth is looking down on you smiling that you are taking such great care of her family. Still praying for Gods strength.