Sis’s Soup with Little Meatballs (Minestra con Polpettine)

You might recall that last December, I demonstrated how to make quadretti, a small, square-shaped pasta. At some point, I mentioned Mom using this pasta in soup to nurse me back to health but that my Sister remembered differently. She recalled Mom serving broth filled with Acini di Pepe, “sick soup”, whenever she was ill. Well, since Monday was Sis’s birthday, why not share the recipe for her sick soup?

Soup made with Acini di Pepe is not a Bartolini tradition. Oh, sure, it was served plenty of times at the old two-flat but it wasn’t made from a recipe that had been handed down from one generation to the next. It came to us, oddly enough, from the Mother of my 5th grade teacher. Mr. D was from Upstate New York and my class was his first in Detroit. In fact, he arrived in my hometown barely 1 week before school started that September. Mr. D wanted to introduce himself to the parish and to our parents so, once classes started, he visited the home of each of his students. He chose the families alphabetically, making mine the second home he entered. And as was so often the case with newcomers who entered the two-flat, he hung around for a number of years — make that decades — afterwards. (There was a similar phenomenon in our backyard that involved Grandpa, our neighbors, and the Parish priests but I’ll save that for another post.) Eventually, Mr. D migrated upstairs, becoming good friends of Zia and Uncle.  At some point, and I do not recall how much time had transpired, his Mother and Aunt came to Detroit for a visit. It wasn’t long before they, too, became ensnared in the two-flat’s web of conviviality. Well, as luck would have it, both women were good cooks and during subsequent visits, recipes were traded. One of the very few recipes to survive is today’s minestra, Acini di Pepe with meatballs. (It took a while but I got us here.)

Acini di Pepe is a small, bead-like pasta that expands during the cooking process, much like couscous. Mom served it to Sis when her tummy was upset, just as she served me quadretti. As was her way, Doctor Mom started with broth only and gradually added increasing amounts of Acini di Pepe to the broth as Sis’s condition improved. The meatballs, polpettine, were never used for medicinal purposes. No, they were served when everyone was well and seated at the dinner table. And did we ever enjoy them. The lemon zest in the polpettine, when mixed with a hint of nutmeg, take this simple soup to an entirely different level. Now, if Acini di Pepe isn’t “your thing,” I strongly suggest you make the polpettine and use them with whatever pastina you prefer. Trust me. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, yeah. Happy Birthday, Sis!

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Acini di Pepe with Meatballs Recipe


For the polpettine

  • 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese, pecorino romano preferred
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the minestra

  • 2 quarts homemade chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought may be substituted)
  • 1 cup Acini di Pepe, uncooked
  • additional grated pecorino romano

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To make polpettine

yield : approx. 100 polpettine, divided, half to be frozen for later use

  1. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined. Do not over-work.
  2. Use a melon baller or small scoop to fashion small meatballs. (See Notes below.)
  3. Divide all the polpettine into 2 halves and place each on separate baking sheets.
  4. Place one baking sheet into the freezer and, once frozen, place the polpettine in a container, return to the freezer for use on a later date.
  5. Use the other half as indicated below.

To make the minestra

  1. Bring the stock to a rapid boil.
  2. Add the Acini di Pepe, stir, and then add the remaining half of the polpettine.
  3. When stock returns to the boil, reduce to a medium simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir often but gently so that the polpettine remain intact.
  4. At the end of 10 minutes, taste the minestra to see if the pasta is cooked to your liking and to adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  5. Serve immediately. Have plenty of grated pecorino romano cheese available at the table.

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Polpettine are meant to be relatively small. One polpettino should easily fit upon a soup spoon with plenty of room left for pasta and broth. Although this recipe yields about 100 meatballs, I prefer to use only about half that amount in a 2 quart pot of soup. Of course, you may use more or less depending upon your own preference.

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And Now for the Awards Portion of  Today’s Presentation

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to have received a few awards from members within our blogging community. And lest anyone think that I do not appreciate these wonderful gifts, I wanted to make sure that each was acknowledged.

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So, to Marie, of My Little Corner of Rhode Island, I say thank you for generously nominating me for the Kreative Blogger Award.



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To Kathryn, of kiwsparks, and Eva, of Kitchen Inspirations, I say thanks for your thoughtfulness in granting me The (Red) Educational Shoe Award. (And to Greg: You’ll just have to wait before you get to see me in stilettos, be they red or some other color.)


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Finally, to Roger, of Food, Photography, & France, mere words cannot express the depth of emotion that I experienced upon learning you had nominated me for the Sunshine Award.




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OK, I know that I’m supposed to answer a variety of questions or volunteer some facts about myself and I must admit to enjoying reading others’ replies. The truth of the matter is, however, that I’m not all that interesting. I am no onion with many layers to be pulled back revealing inner truths. There is no art in this choke. What you see is what you get — and what you get is pretty boring, at that. Besides, what little there is to tell is fodder for my future posts. If I tell you everything about myself now, whatever will I write about next time or the time after that?  And so, to those who truly wish to learn more about me, I say “Stay tuned … “

The next part of any award acceptance is to pass the award along to deserving individuals. Well, there are 3 awards to pass along and I don’t even know how many bloggers, in total, I am to name. I do know, however, that no matter how many good people I nominate, I will surely forget one person and, in all probability, quite a few more. I have been treated kindly by everyone I’ve met here and encouraged in more ways than I could ever enumerate.  I’d sooner quit blogging than hurt or offend any of those who have treated me so graciously. So, rather than nominate many, I shall only nominate one.

A relative newcomer, this blogging friend has taught me a great deal. By her example, I’ve learned that less is more. That silence is truly golden. That to just be yourself and the World will be yours to conquer. And so it is that I nominate, for the Kreative Blogger, The (Red) Educational Shoe, and Sunshine awards, none other than …
















As soon as word of the awards became known, her friends carried her off to an impromptu party at Chicago’s Fondue Stube. Pictured above, Flat Ruthie is seen with one of her dearest of friends, Thing, as they await the arrival of the fondue pots. Oh, what a night!

So, congratulations Flat Ruthie! I for one, cannot wait to read your acceptance speech. (No fair helping her, 3D Ruth.)

And to Marie, Kathryn, Eva, and Roger, all joking aside, I am both honored and grateful for the awards you’ve sent my way. Mille grazie!

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113 thoughts on “Sis’s Soup with Little Meatballs (Minestra con Polpettine)

    • Thanks, Chris. If you’ve got the stock already prepared, you can make the meatballs in 30 minutes, or so. I used 50 polpettine in 2 quarts of soup. Depending upon the soup bowl’s size, that should give you from 4 to 6 servings of soup.

  1. First of all, you are ANYTHING but boring. I love to read your posts, hear all about your family memories, and I am always, always, fascinated by your delicious food. I love the fact that you are a male blogger, and an Italian male blogger at that. (My favorite kind, as my last name is Policani) ;) I’ve dated 3 Italian men in my 44 years (married the last one), and believe me, it’s impossible for an Italian man to be boring!

    So, with my embarrassing love for all things Italian set aside, soup is also a favorite of mine. And then you combine the tiny pasta with the little meat balls…To DIE FOR!! I will have to find a gluten free way around the tiny pasta but I will definitely be trying the meat balls.

    Happy Birthday to your Sis! :) – April

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, April. Where in Italy are your people from? And you dated 3 Italian men? Now, that’s dedication to a cause! I realize you’ve little choice in the matter but how does an Italian go gluten-free? Thank goodness there are better and better gluten-free products on the market and your blog is a treasure trove of information on the subject. I’ve recommended it to a number of people. And I’ll pass along your birthday wishes to Sis. Thanks! :)

  2. I was only just MINUTES ago (and by minutes I mean 2 or 3!) thinking “I need to make one of John’s pastas.” Well, I’m taking this as a sign, and who wouldn’t?! I will most definitely be making this zuppa John (subbing ground turkey for the veal probably) and can hardly wait to get started. Thank you friend for an always day-brightening post! How I love showing up in Bartollini’s kitchen! If you don’t mind, I think I’ll stay awhile. :)

    • Thank you, Spree. You’re welcome to pull up a chair anytime you like. I think subbing turkey for the veal would work just fine. If you do try it, please let me know your impressions. Many people boycott veal — I myself use it less and less — and if turkey works well, then I’ll gladly add that info to the post. Thanks!

  3. Congratulations on your awards….was that Billy Crystal I just saw leaving the building…he forgot to introduce you?! And as for your polpettine – my mum always makes hers with lemon zest, so of course I do too! Can´t really get veal here, so I tend to use a mix of beef and pork. And as for those Acini di Pepe, they look great—have never seen them before Quite frankly, any food that gets bigger as you cook it is a winner in my book!

    • Thanks, Tanya. I really enjoy that lemony flavor the zest brings to a bowl of soup. Mom used it here and in her cappelletti filling. I’ve not made Acini di Pepe in years and it was a real treat making this minestra for this post. A side benefit of blogging. :)

    • Thanks, Roger. This soup isn’t as daunting to prepare as one might expect and the pay-off is well worth the effort. Give it a try sometime. You won’t be disappointed.

  4. Oh John, you are too funny!! Please do not stop blogging! I’d have to fly to Chicago to get your recipes and stories!! And stories you definitely do have, interesting and definitely not boring! But I will await your future posts to find out more about you and your family! These awards are well deserved – I love the red sneaker!! We could now step out in style together with our new red shoes!!
    Now as for this soup, I am so making it THIS weekend, following your recipe exactly as written, exactly as passed on. Thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes!

    • Thanks, Linda. Oh, what a pair we’d make! You in red stilettos and me in “matching” sneakers. I made this soup over the weekend for the first time in well over a decade. This blog is giving me the opportunity to get reacquainted with some of these recipes and it’s been great! I really enjoy lemon flavoring in soup and that’s what I love about this one. I really hope you enjoy it as much as we all did. :)

  5. What a wonderful post, John! You’re so far from boring, and you reveal so much about yourself without answering any questions in your posts…like what a gentleman and a scholar you are, as well as a very clever and creative person, not that we didn’t already suspect or know that! :) I think your nominee for the awards is a perfect choice, and I look forward to her acceptance speech. I love this Acini de Pepi with Polpettine for a lot of reasons…it sounds delish, you can’t feel too badly about eating very small meatballs with such a big flavor, and I’ve seen the Acini de Pepe in our stores and never knew quite what to do with it, so thank you for this must try recipe!

  6. This was the most amazing surprise and I can’t wait to let her know she is practically receiving the Oscar of the blogging world. I happen to know that yesterday she reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro – I kid you not!
    That celebration party was a fabulous scene.
    Flat Ruthie is one lucky flat!
    Can’t wait to read her response.

    • Well, it’s about time Flat Ruthie got some recognition and I’m glad you were surprised. I can’t believe she made it to Mt. Kilimanjaro! Now I’m starting to get jealous! When all is said and done, it will be interesting to see all of the places she’s toured. What a great project you’ve started, Ruth!

  7. I love the stories that area attached to your incredible recipes – love reading about them all!
    Happy Birthday to your sister – hope she has a beautiful year ahead.
    Congratulations on all of the wonderful awards – you are very deserving of them all! You are not at all boring. :-) Mandy

    • Thank you so much, Mandy, and I’ll be sure to pass along your birthday wishes to my Sis. Food was such an integral part of our lives back then that, today, just looking at one of Mom’s recipes will trigger some long-forgotten memory. I never expected this “benefit” when I started this project. It’s been quite an experience.

  8. The weather has finally chilled and I have houseguests this long weekend…I think this would be a hit! I must say that your comment about not being interesting is far from true. Your stories and context of family are really rich, and I think because I also have a strong and loving family, I find great interest in the stability of a long and unique familial history. And what a great thing to be able say that your teacher’s family became “ensnared in the two-flat’s web of conviviality.” There is nothing to be more admired! Your awards are well-earned! Debra

    • Thanks, Debra, for leaving so nice a compliment. Zia and I will sometimes reminisce about those times in the two-flat and just how special it was. Coming from a strong, loving family as you do, I’m sure you understand better than most. We’re blessed and I’m quite thankful. :)

  9. Foiled again! Well, I do think those stillettos would’ve matched the tomatoes, but I guess the sneakers will have to do. Anyway, I love these little meatballs and that you just use veal. The size reminds me of my grandma’s lasagna. And I do remember that pasta!

    • “Foiled again!” reminds me of Snidely Whiplash and I get a good chuckle out of that memory. I make 3 lasagne and your Nana’s will make a 4th. I really liked the recipe when you posted it and need to work it “into the rotation.” The idea of little meat balls between the pasta sheets is a good one!

  10. That soup looks definitely something I would absolutely LOVE, John. Brothy soups are my favourite for sure. Flat Ruthie does seem to get around…what an appropriate nomination. I really like your red shoe…is that one of your shoes, John? If so, there are things we still don’t know about you…red shoes are not boring at all. I am pleased to have nominated you for the red shoe award, your comments are of the one’s I most look forward to reading. Thank you for that.

    • What a nice thing to say, Eva, and I really do appreciate it. I’m relieved that you didn’t mind my “not playing by the rules” in accepting the Red Shoe Award. I really do not like having to choose but a few nominees when there are so many wonderful blogs that I read — yours definitely being among the best. I don’t wish to create any hurt feelings and nominating Flat Ruthie allowed me to dodge that bullet. As for the soup, it is really easy to prepare and I love the end-result. I do hope you try it sometime, Eva. :)

  11. The combination of lemon zest and nutmeg sounds sooooo appealing John. But I now want to know what happened with ” Grandpa, our neighbors, and the Parish priests” :) Oh and congratulations on your awards, lovely to see you “recognised”

    • Thanks, Claire, and you’re right. The combo of nutmeg and lemon work well together in this soup. As for Grandpa and his cohorts, you’ll just have to wait a bit. I put that comment into the post knowing that every family member that reads it will be smiling broadly as a result. Grandpa was a card, as they used to say, and I look forward to telling you a little about him. “Stay tuned … ” :)

  12. I always love reading every post John and congratulations on your awards. They are well deserved. This soup looks very special and quite different than the norm with the lemon and round pasta beads. Your meatballs look herb-y and fabulous! I am always looking forward to your next post.

  13. Congratulations on the slew of awards, John — all well deserved. Those little meatballs are adorable — they remind me of the pork meatballs that sometimes show up in Chinese noodle soup: I see them and I want some. Now. I’ll save the recipe — this seems like a lovely winter lunch or supper.

    • Thanks, Sharyn. I’d forgotten all about the little meatballs in some Chinese soups but you’re right. These here are very similar. And this does make a great lunch. I just had the last bowl, from last Sunday’s batch, for lunch today. I’ve got about 50 polpettine in the freezer, though, so I’ll be making another batch of soup in a few weeks. I really do like this stuff! :)

  14. I am coming back in the morning, put the kettle on about 6, then i will read this properly, i do not understand the teensy weensy pasta.. so i have to come back and read FURTHER.. tea, milk no sugar!! Just gumboot is fine (some countries call it builders tea) k? CELI

    • Celi, on the best of days, you run yourself ragged from dawn to dusk. You’ll get here when you get here — and that’s fine. Get some rest. As for the “teensy weensy pasta,” acini di pepe is Italian for peppercorns and that is what they are supposed to resemble.

  15. Those meatballs are a thing of beauty! Tiny morsels of tender goodness! I’ll definately be trying them Mr. So-not-boring. With the recollections of your family and the two flat, you have shared phantoms of feet treading the stairs, love in the kitchen and the warmth that can only come from family meals. Thank for this small glimpse into the past! Happy Birthday to your sister; and lastly, congratulations on the awards.

    • Thank you, David, for your kind words and birthday wishes for Sis. I’ll be sure to pass them along. As for the meatballs, I like how the lemon zest brings an unexpected flavor burst to each meatball. It adds a nice dimension to the soup. I hope you try it and like it as much as we do. :)

  16. This soup looks so lovely and comforting. I’m fighting a cold right now, and wish I had a steaming bowlful of it in front of me. Alas, I shall just have to make some for myself when I’m feeling better. I like the idea of having the meatballs on hand in the freezer, too. Congrats on your awards!

    • So sorry, Mar, to learn that you’re not well. I hope it isn’t anything more than a cold and that the worst of it is behind you. One of the great things about this soup is that you can pretty much have it on-hand at all times. A couple quarts of stock and the meatballs can be stored in your freezer. The pastina can be kept on a shelf in the cupboard. You can have this soup on the table — or in a mug, bedside — in under 20 minutes. That was Doctor Mom’s secret. I hope you feel better soon, Mar, and thank you for commenting, even though ill. Get some rest!

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  19. What a fun post John! First of all congratulations on the many well-deserved awards! :) And I loved your acceptance speech…you have such a way with words.

    Now onto the post…when I read your stories about the two-flat I feel like I can see it. I so wish I could have been a neighbor! It just sounds like such a warm, welcoming and delicious place to visit! (Not to mention live!) I also love that your mom had special meals to nurse both you and your sister back to health. That is such a wonderful expression of love. And I’ve never been a big meatball person, but these sound particularly good. I especially like the nutmeg. Congrats again John and happy birthday to your sister!

    • Thank you, Kristy. We’ve all seen how you care for your Sous Chefs. I’ve no doubt if their tastes diverged and each requested a special “feel better” soup, that you’d have the fixins for each on-hand pretty much all the time. It’s what Moms do. :)

  20. What a great post! I love the stories of your past. Your upbringing sounds to intriguing. And these meatballs look delicious. What a great family dinner. I will try this when the weather cools. And…I’m so jealous of Flat Ruthie. She so effortlessly wins everything!

    • Thank you, Charlie Louie, and I feel the same about the stories you tell in your posts. I really enjoy your writing style and, honestly, that short-sighted publisher’s loss is our gain. I do hope you try this soup — or at least the meatballs added to your favorite soup. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

      • I ended up finding so many vegetables that I made a vegetable soup for the meatballs instead. I hope that you will forgive the transgression. But boy were those meatballs good! The lemon zest really makes them lively, but at the same time, the nutmeg is so comforting and warm. And I have to admit that I feel smug at having a whole other meal’s worth in the freezer (and I’ll do those in chicken broth, since I’ll be making a batch this weekend). Thanks so much — another dinner down! (And to top it off, the weather was really blustery today, making it a perfect day for soup.)

        • Thank you for coming back to tell us about your experience. Your soup sounds delicious! And you’re right about having more of the meatballs in your freezer. I usually have a couple quart of stock frozen, too. All I need is a little pasta and I can make this soup in minutes. On a cold Winter’s day, this soup is perfect! Again, thanks for returning to comment. :)

  21. Congratulations on the awards John, you deserve each and every one. And you are not boring! I think I love your stories almost as much as I love the recipes.They are so warm.
    Happy belated birthday to your sister.
    I love the recipe, and I love how the ingredents were added as you got better

    • Thank you, Sawsan, and yes, that was Doctor Mom’s cure. Start with broth and gradually add pastina as our stomachs settled. You have children and I’d be interested to read how you nurse them back to health. I bet you have your own special foods and methods, too. All Moms do. :)

  22. Ah, I do love this soup – the local Italian community puts chopped fresh spinach in it, too. I’d never heard of it until I moved up here 15 years ago, and now I can’t get enough…
    As for the awards, well, you know what *I* think…and I do NOT give them to boring people! :D The very fact that you grew up in the kind of family that could “ensnare” a newcomer like your teacher – and you can regale us all with their stories – puts you squarely in the “interesting” catagory.
    Can’t wait to hear about Grandpa and his cohorts!

    • Thank you, Marie. I bet these polpettine would be great in a soup with some spinach. I think I’ll give it a try sometime. Yes, we did seem to “capture” quite a few people back then at the two-flat. They’d come over for a dinner and, before you knew it, they were regulars. And Grandpa was something else. He was a big hit among the men of the neighborhood but not held in nearly so high a regard by their wives. We’ll get to him soon enough. :)

  23. Hmmm.. I was reading, scrolling down with bated breath to find.. no answers? “Foiled again” is right! Oh, well, waiting to read each new recipe is not a problem… good things are worth waiting for and I, for one, love learning more about you with each one:) Congratulations on your awards… and I love that you chose Flat Ruthie… she has worked so hard she deserves it! (I wonder if she has to answer any questions??) I’m ++delighted that you’ve posted this recipe… I love the flavors, but I’m most enchanted by the fact that everything is round.. round pasta, round polpettine… I have a round bowl and round spoon waiting.. I’m off to find ground veal today…

    • You comments are always so warm and complimentary, Smidge. Thank you for that! Yes, that Flat Ruthie is such a trooper! I just thought it time she got a little recognition. As for this recipe, the polpettine are a great way to add a burst of flavor to a bowl of soup. I hope you found the ground veal and that you enjoy this soup when you make it. Good luck! :)

  24. OK I am back.. one of my oldies fell and broke his leg, I discovered him on his kitchen floor this morning, after he had spent most of the night there, then the poor old fella had to endure a full day of hospital with me insisting on being with him. One nurse tried to tell me that i could not go into the ER because I was not a relative, well you can imagine, his daughter is in california! I told her I was a foreigner and did not understand her rules and was not going to leave the old codger all alone not after the night he had had. So she could just pretend that she thought I said cousin. Accents are weird. She pushed the button and let me in. Now I have read your recipe and Oh My, firstly this is exactly what my old codger needs. All those tiny morsels that fit onto one spoon! and I love that you made the meatballs with a melon baller.. Why did i not think of that?! I will need to research the little pasta.. peppercorns, sounds perfect! Wish me luck.. c

    • That poor guy! I’m so glad you found him, Celi, for you, and probably only you, would insist upon staying with him. Thank goodness the nurse relented — although I give you credit for playing the “foreigner card.” I hope the guy recovers fully, with no lingering aches & pains. As bad as his ordeal was, at least you were there to offer support and to show concern.

      I always used a melon baller until I came across a very small ice cream scoop on Amazon. I used it here, for the meatballs, and for doling out ravioli filling. I’m far too ham-fisted to make small polpetinne completely by hand. As for the Acini di Pepe, I bought Safeway brand, although I do not know if that’s available in your neck of the woods. If you cannot find it, you could try substituting Barilla’s “Pastina,” a small, star-shaped pasta. Any small pasta will do but the smaller the better. Good luck!

  25. Congrats on the boatload of awards my friend and of course I have to say it. …MA!! THE MEATBALLS, WE WANT EM NOW! oops yes that was supposed to be meatloaf, but I want these meatballs.

  26. THis is one of my favorite soups. My mom called all tiny past noodles pastina, not sure if she used the correct name or not but it was easy for us to pronounce as a kid. Anyhow, love how you added lemon zest, mmm burst of sunshine!
    Congrats on the awards and Buon Compleanno to your sister!

    • It’s a favorite of mine, too, Lisa. I believe your Mom is correct. Barella makes a small, star-shape pasta that they’ve labelled pastina but I always thought pastina referred to all tiny pasta, not just one. You’re also right about the lemon zest’s impact upon he meatballs. “Burst of sunshine” I wish I had thought of that when I was writing the post. :) Thank you and I’ll be sure to pass along your birthday wishes to Sis.

    • Thank you, Karen. Flat Ruthie does so much for us all that I thought it only right that she get some recognition. I just hope she doesn’t get a swelled head over it. :)

  27. Look at how perfectly you rolled those meatballs! All the same size, round….I need to work on that haha. Happy belated birthday to your sister!! This soup sounds diiiivine.

    • Ya know, it’s a funny thing. I don’t recall hearing anything about Italian Wedding Soup as a child nor do I remember it being served at the countless weddings I attended in my youth. It just wasn’t a “thing” my family, or their countrymen, served. I learned about it long after I left home and moved to Chicago. So, from your vantage point, I definitely see the makings of a wedding soup. From my family’s perspective, it’s, “Wedding what?” :)

  28. I absolutely love hearing stories of traditions and families and how that has influenced the food in one’s life. This sounds like an amazing recipe, perfect to get you feeling better – or full. :)

    • Hi, Courtney. This is a great soup and Doctor Mom used it to its full benefit. Growing up, food did play a big role in our family life. It was a different time, though. There are so many after school activities for kids today that just weren’t available for us. As a result, we always, and I do mean always, ate supper together. It’s a luxury today but, back then, it was the norm. Who’s to say which is better?

    • You are so right! I made them, for the first time in many years, for this post and fell in love with them all over again. Make a batch of these meatballs and keep some in your freezer. They’ll brighten any soup you put them in.

  29. To all who wished me a happy birthday, Thank You. And if you were wondering what I did on my B-day. I was on the couch with SICK SOUP and a cold. When I wanted mom to get me more, I realized I was the mom. OH NO

  30. Just look at those amazing meatballs. Delish! Congrats on all of your awards as well. I really enjoy the blog so far.. and I can see why you’ve won so many awards :). And look at Flat Ruthie.. she is looking better than ever :)

    • That’s very kind of you to say. Thank you. Yes, Flat Ruthie should be tired after all of this traveling but just look at her. She’s fresh as a daisy and as lively as ever!

  31. Of course, as all of the others have noted above, my dear: you got a bushel of awards precisely because you are in a place incredibly far from Boring (and no, I am *not* googlemapping the distance between Chicago, IL and Boring, OR). This post is just further proof, if anybody on earth needed it. Meanwhile, the polpettine sound divine and I will certainly try that seasoning combination next time I’m being a meatball. I mean, making meatballs.

    Many happy returns of the day to your Sis, who must be celebrating having such a delightful brother, at the very least. :)


    • You are so kind, Kathryn. Thank you. I hope you do find the time to give these polpettine a try. It’s been ages since I’ve had this soup and, as I told Zia yesterday, I can’t wait to make it again. That’s another benefit of this blogging thing. I’ve become reacquainted with a number of the old recipes — and have enjoyed every one of ‘em!

    • Thank you, Christina. You’re right about this soup for a day like today — or tomorrow. Winter just couldn’t fade away. The Old Man had to show us he was still here and had plenty of fight left in him.

  32. This reminds me of maleculor gastronamy when they made vodka balls and they look like the droplets in your soup.
    I love meatballs. When we went to Italy, I absolutely loved the meatballs. There’s a small takeaway in Pisa that makes meatballs in this incredible tomato based sauce. I was only there for two days and I think I ate there like 4 times.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I’ve tinkered with that molecular stuff. When it works, it’s fascinating! I’ve not been to Pisa but, if they’ve got good meatballs, I’ll make sure Pisa is a destination during my next trip, if and when I get back to Italy. :)

      • Not if, please not if! Italy is amazing, you have to go back. I’m itching to take another trip there.
        The molecular gastronamy is indeed fascinating. It’s beyond me but if Heston can do it, so can anyone!

  33. I am so very far behind in my blog reading, so many wonderful posts. So glad I didn’t miss this one though, congrats on the awards! Those little meatballs do take more time to prepare, but the payoff is worth it–and veal is the best by far.

    • Oh, how I know what you mean, Judy. You take a day or two off, away from WordPress, and you return to heaven only knows how many posts! As for making the meatballs, I found a small ice cream scoop, 1.5 teaspoon-sized, that works perfectly. It took what was once a pains-taking job and made it a breeze. Thank you Amazon! :)

  34. Hi John…I’m back with a question…(you have so many friends/fans/followers that it took me about 5 minutes to scroll to the bottom of the list! :) ) I’m FINALLY getting ready to make this soup (using turkey meat in place of the veal) – but I am just not in a place (oh that I were!) to make my own pasta. The Greeks have a little square flat pasta – would you recommend that, or Orzo, or ??? One day, and I can hardly wait, I’ll make a day’s fun project of playing with your pastas!

    • Turkey will work fine, Spree, and you certainly don’t need to make your own pasta. We never made Acini di Pepe but it isn’t the easiest to find. I’m familiar with the Greek pasta, having used it in place of Mom’s homemade quadretti. My family only served these meatballs with small pastas and so they’d would work fine with the Greek pasta or orzo. Still, if you feel a large noodle would work, then by all means try one. Remember, Mom was serving soup to children. Unless she kept the pasta and meatballs small enough for us to handle, she’d be cleaning up the mess afterward. :)

      I hope this helped and if you’ve more questions, feel free to ask them here or send an email to Good luck!

      • Thanks so much! I’ll use one of the little pastas, and I’ll get back to you once we’ve had it. My stomach is growling noisily for this soup so it won’t be long! :)

  35. Pingback: smells and squeaks « Garden Correspondent

  36. Pingback: Mom’s Broth — Il Brodo della Mamma | from the Bartolini kitchens

  37. John, I am making the veal meatballs…, absolutely love them. This is a great soup that I can reheat over and over again!!

    I hope you don’t mind if I reblog your link on my reblog page?

    • So glad to hear that you’ll give the recipe a try. They’re little bursts of flavor in your soup. I really like them and hope you will, too.
      Of course I do not mind if you reblog the page. In fact, I’m honored. Thank you.

  38. Pingback: 10 Soul Warming Soups For A Cold Winter’s Day « Profiteroles & Ponytails

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