Reader, I married him.
And then we had Italian wedding soup! Okay, yes, lot of other things happened leading up to the events of the last few days, but I'll try and catch you up quickly.
I met a man once, when I was seventeen. It was the spring of '99, and at that age I was all jangly nerves and awkward elbows, much as I was at twenty-seven, and just as I'll surely be at thirty-seven. Still, at seventeen, the jangles were...more apparent. Most of the time I felt small and odd and unnoticed, which is fair, since that's exactly the way I moved through the world. I was in my first year of college, having just spent all of my high school years admiring our flamboyant theatre crowd without squeaking a word to any of them. With my mouth twisted in shy jealousy, I'd never dared to so much as volunteer as a stagehand, let alone go out for a speaking role. I'd never have come up with the idea of auditioning for a play on my own in college, either, but because one night I was hanging out with a friend and that friend's friend (who I never even saw again after this evening, but who I've always felt I ought to thank, somehow) wanted to audition for a local show, we all trooped along as a show of support. The show--truly, you can't make this stuff up--was "Romeo and Juliet."
My friend's friend, as it turned out, was a new actress and suffering attacks of nerves all her own, hoping we'd take the stage with her. And in a fit of very uncharacteristic devil-may-care-ness--I seriously don't know what came over me, other than there was a blue-eyed guy sprawled in a chair near the back of the room that had been catching at the corners of my vision all night--I said "Sure, I'll do it too," and I stomped up there in sneakers and jeans and delivered my very characteristic shaky Shakespeare. I didn't have a headshot, so I sent them a high school track team photo of me and my awkward elbows posed in uniform that was already two years old, and a "resume" that must have just been a blank sheet of paper. In the local theatre company's infinite kindness, they did cast me--in a smallish role that had a few great lines, and meant that I got to see more of the blue-eyed guy for the next few weeks.
Weeks passed, and that summer was lovely. Years passed, and I married a different man and he married a different woman, until both of those unions imploded spectacularly. Finally one day I found myself, heart's blood pounding in my ears as it did the day I uncharacteristically took the stage for no good reason, poised to jump on a plane to New York City and find out the reason I'd never forgotten the blue-eyed guy in all those intervening years. Awkward elbows and all, I took off on that first flight, and my whole world changed again.
Literally half a lifetime away from when we'd started (always a sucker for those whirlwind romances, I am), last week I finally got to stand with that same blue-eyed guy's hands in mine, promising in front of a tiny gathering of family members that I'd be his wife, friend and love for the rest of our days. His blue eyes are the same ones that gave me vivid fever dreams from which I'd wake, dazed, during those eighteen years between meeting and marrying. His devilish grin is the same one that makes me laugh every single day, and his kind voice is the one that makes me feel like I'm truly at home. The commitment is one we've been making to each other daily for years now, but the ceremony we held ten days ago was a beautiful affirmation of that fact, spoken aloud in front of the people we love most. Reader, I am finally at home.
Can I offer you some wedding soup now? It's rich, velvety, and lovely in its simplicity, which makes it nothing at all like the complicated twists and turns of life & love. It is, however, a pretty perfect soup.
Makes about 6 servings
8 oz. ground beef
8 oz. ground pork
1 large egg, beaten
⅓ cup bread, torn into small pieces or pulsed into crumbs
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups Tuscan (lacinato) kale, ribs removed, washed & sliced into ribbons
2 large eggs, beaten
salt & pepper, to taste
Parmesan & Italian parsley, to garnish
Stir all ingredients for meatballs together in a mixing bowl until just combined, then shape into 1 ½” balls. Set aside and refrigerate until using.
Add stock to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low. Add meatballs and kale together, then simmer until meatballs are cooked through (kale will also be nice and tender at this point), about 10 minutes. Ladle hot soup a tablespoon at a time into the bowl containing the beaten eggs, to bring the temperature up gradually and temper the eggs (this will give you a beautifully smooth soup). Once the egg mixture is hot, pour it into the rest of the soup and continue cooking for two more minutes. Taste soup, add salt & pepper as desired, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with a sprinkling of Parmesan and Italian parsley, then serve.
Having something to dunk into each bowl and absorb its rich flavor--I strongly recommend a few nice, crusty garlic & Parmesan toasts--makes this a perfect meal.