I am in the midst of reading Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. It’s been a fascinating biography. I knew little of Julia Child prior to starting the book; I’ve never seen an episode of The French Chef (although looking for clips on YouTube is now on my to-do list). I’ve been chuckling at her reactions to the arrival of pre-packaged, processed food in American supermarkets in the 1950s and the “quick and easy” recipes of the era (one notable recipe featured Spam and Vienna sausages while daring to use the word “Roast” in its title), all the while thinking of my own pantry and the recipe shortcuts I frequently use. I comfort myself with the ol’ “I work full-time” defense, but there is something to be said for Julia’s standards, even in the fast-paced 21st century. She took the time to do something the right way; she savored, she reveled in food – and life.
Here would be the perfect opportunity to share a from-scratch recipe that I attempted in Julia Child-fashion, but sadly, I cannot. Tonight I made an Italian Wedding Soup recipe that was recommended to me by my sweet mother-in-law, Loveta. It was a Weight Watchers recipe, and contained vegetables from a can. My apologies, Julia. (The recipe was tasty, though. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars; John ranked it a little lower at 3-and-a-half.)
Italian Wedding Soup
1½ cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 cup water
½ cup uncooked orzo
9 oz mild turkey Italian sausage
1 (14.5-oz) can petite-cut diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil, undrained
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (6-oz) package fresh baby spinach
¼ cup (1 oz) shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
1. Combine broth and water in a Dutch oven; cover and bring to a boil. Add orzo. Cook, uncovered, 6 to 8 minutes or until orzo is tender; do not drain.
2. While broth mixture comes to a boil, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
3. While skillet heats, remove casings from sausage, and quickly shape into 24 (1-inch) balls. (I am slow, so I did this before I got the broth to boiling. Also, my meatballs were smaller than 1-inch.) Add meatballs to pan. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Drain well.
4. Add meatballs, tomatoes, and pepper to pasta mixture; return to a boil. Add spinach; cook 30 seconds, stirring until spinach wilts. Ladle soup evenly into 4 bowls. Top evenly with cheese.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1½ cups soup and 1 TB cheese). Per serving, 5 PointsPlus.