Comfort in the Simplest Way

By Patrizia Cucca

I was not sure that I would have this column submitted before my deadline but seems to be quite difficult because of the craziness and time spent in emergency rooms over the weekend and the weekend has only just begun.
Hospitals and emergency rooms on a Friday night are not where you want to spend any extended lengths of time. For that matter no time is a good time to have to be in an emergency room. Six hours of sheer craziness. I must mention how much admiration I have for the hospital staff working the night shift. The nurses, the doctors and the security staff, pretty incredible people. As I sit here waiting and watching I can’t help notice all the different people around me. I find myself trying to assess and figure out what their ailments are. Many people are showing signs of pain, while others are simply sitting here quietly. Many people making me laugh, a few I am wary and scared of, while others I wish I could help by showing comfort and support. One thing I see that is similar with everyone here tonight; they are here alone. Once again I realize how fortunate we are, my sister has seven of us in attendance to show our love and support for each other.
This experience has brought me back to my childhood and mom preparing us some liquid love when feeling a bit under the weather. I wish I had some now to share with everyone around me. I want to give everyone a bowl to comfort them. However not only is a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup comforting at time when you’re down and not feeling you’re best, each bowl contains vitamins, nourishment and hydration benefits. You’ve no doubt heard the saying “feed a cold; starve a fever” well us Italians starve nothing. The healing power of nourishment and energy through foods is vital when you’re battling a virus or common cold in order to boost your immunity and give your body the energy it needs to fight off whatever illness you are you are feeling. Moms always know best! To my immigrant mother, who never made me a frozen meal in her life, I love you a lot but I am sure you know that. Now with that being said, can I come over for a bowl of your liquid love. Unfortunately, I have not been able to make the soup like mom makes but this rich broth filled with tiny bits of acini di pepe pasta and tiny meatballs before being served topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley will cure any ailment.

INGREDIENTS
•1 small onion grated
•1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
•1 large egg
•1 teaspoon minced garlic
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 slice white bread crusts trimmed, grated or shredded
•1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
•16 oz ground beef
•12 cups chicken broth
•1 box frozen chopped spinach
•approx 6-8 oz of Acini de Pepe or other tiny pasta*
•2 tbsp Parmigiano
INSTRUCTIONS
1. To make the meatballs: Stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Then add the cheese and the beef. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs, and place on a baking sheet. I prefer the meatballs to be on the smaller side, but you can make them any size you want.
2. To make the soup: Bring the broth and frozen spinach to a boil in a large pot. Add the meatballs (uncooked) and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick. Add the pasta and continue cooking at a low boil until both the pasta and meatballs are cooked (approx 20 minutes). Season with salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before serving, if you wish.

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