Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grandma Fiorenza's soup

I have seen a version of this called Italian Wedding our house...this is known as Grandma Fiorenza's soup. Even after she was a great grandma and was called GG the name of the soup remained. My grandma didn't have much variety in what she cooked...and she really didn't like vegetables too much. In fact, when she would come to visit me she would bring a can of spam and a couple slices of white bread in her purse so she wouldn't have to eat something like...hmmmm....vegetable and shrimp pasta with fresh dill from the New Basics Cookbook. There wasn't much a person could say to her about this...she was healthy into her 90s, so her diet worked for her, obviously. BUT, something she enjoyed eating and making was this soup. I remember going to her house and having sugo one night with her homemade meatballs (the large meatballs were served with that) and Italian sausage and this soup (with the small meatballs) the other night. Both nights were good meals!!

I make this soup exactly as I'm blogging about it. There may be some shortcuts, like I'm not really sure why the meatballs aren't cooked directly in the soup. I can't vary it...but you may want to try. I just need to make this so it tastes exactly like my Grandma (and my mom) make it. I don't think that anyone should substitute any other kind of cheese for the imported Pecorino Romano.

I'm not a big beef eater, but there are a handful of recipes I don't think I could ever give up that contain beef. This is one of them!

My mom would make this for us if we were getting colds. I guess it was the Italian version of chicken soup.

Our Sendik's store didn't have acini de pepe pasta, the really tiny pearls of pasta. I got stars instead. But, I will have to run to an Italian grocery store, like Glorioso's, and get a stash of the really tiny pasta. For me, tiny pasta is part of this soup.

Here it is:
1 or 2 meaty beef shanks
1 large (28 oz) undrained whole tomatoes
carrots/celery (amount varies....I used 4 large carrots and 4 stalks celery), cut into 4 inch to 6 inch long pieces
onions, small preferred (I used 4)
potatoes, quartered or halved (I used 4)
Cover beef shanks with water in soup kettle. Let it simmer until the meat is tender (about an hour). Skim off foam if necessary.
Add 1 can undrained tomatoes. Add potatoes, celery, carrots (as many as you want). Cook (not boiling) until potatoes are almost cooked through.

Then add onions and cook until tender.
I used a couple cans of beef broth as well.

You can mix meatballs at any time during this process.
1 lb grd chuck
Italian seasonings, especially parsley(dried)
2 eggs
bread crumbs...about 1/4 c or as needed to form balls
Pecorino romano cheese (about 1/4 c)
Mix and form meatballs. Add meatballs to a pot of boiling water. After the meatballs are cooked, add them to the soup broth.
acini de pepe pasta (tiny pasta)
Cook in boiling water in another pan for approx. 5 minutes. Drain. Add soup broth to pasta through a strainer to keep it from sticking together.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Add some pasta and top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Pull some vegetables and meatballs out of the soup in put in large serving bowl and let everyone take the vegetables they want. Top each serving bowl with additional Pecorino Romano and some salt and pepper. I don't usually use much salt and pepper at the table but this soup needs it.

Eleanor is not a very big tomato fan, but she doesn't like this if I omit the tomatoes. I tried making the meatballs with ground turkey one time (since that's what I had in the freezer), and that got a thumbs down. Maybe your family will work with substitutions on this recipe, we don't!

There really isn't too much time involved in making this soup. The time it takes to prepare is while it is on the stove, so you do have to be home but can be doing other things for most of the time. I will make this (including the meatballs) before swim practice and come home and just cook the pasta and warm the broth and vegetables.


  1. Your mom told me about your blog tonight and I had to have a look. This soup sounds wonderful! Great recipe to find with the cold weather hitting! Looking forward to reading your other posts.

  2. Mmmm... my mouth is watering thinking about grandma's soup... I haven't had it for a long time- maybe when mom visits we can make it together.