I have learned that if you really want to get to know someone, spend time with them in their kitchen. You can quickly tell if someone is detail oriented by the way their pantry is carefully arranged or by the way they perfectly chop their vegetables. You will be able to distinguish boring from an adventurous type of person by the types of ingredients they have on hand. And if you want to see if someone is truly clean and neat, check out what’s going on the fridge…
The way a cook plates his or her food also may say a lot about them. Carefully arranged dishes, lack of spill or drip marks and maybe even the simplest garnish on a plate will tell you that the person who prepared the food cares about how it will be received by the person accepting the dish. In my opinion, sloppily prepared or poorly plated food says “I’m to busy to care about you or what you eat”.
My recipe for Vermicelli Soup with Meatballs (Vermicellisoep Met Balletjes) is very similar to the dish that my Oma used to make. I knew that my Oma loved us by the care she exhibited when hand rolling the tiny uniformly shaped meatballs for her soup. Her knife skills were flawless when she thinly sliced the crunchy celery and the sweet orange carrots, and her tiny workspace was neat as a pin. When she ladled up a bowl soup for you, you would never imagine it looking and tasting anything less than perfect.
And for years, I have always wondered how in the heck did she do that?
Well, all I can do as her granddaughter is to do my best to try to follow in her footsteps, carry on our cooking traditions and document the recipes for future family members. So when I am in my kitchen I think of my Oma and I cook as though I am I telling someone that I love them. Enjoy! Tessa
Little marble sized meatballs ready to drop into the soup…
- 1/2 pound good quality ground beef
- 2-3 slices white bread (crusts removed)
- 1 – 2 Tbls milk
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/3 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. white pepper
- 2 – 3 stalks of celery with leaves
- 1 white onion
- 3 carrots
- 1 tsp. butter
- 1 1/2 quarts good quality chicken stock
- 1 bouillon cube (chicken)
- 1/8 tsp. white pepper
- 1/8 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- a few dashes Maggi seasoning (or to taste)
- 3 ounces dry fine vermicelli noodles
- parsley and fresh ground nutmeg for garnish
Begin by making the meatballs. Start by putting the bread in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the milk to the bread and let it soak a bit . Add the ground beef, egg, salt, nutmeg and white pepper. Mix well. Grab a small bit of the beef and roll it into a ball about the size of a marble. Repeat until done. Set aside. (I know that this is time consuming but you will be happy with the end product if you keep the meatballs all similar size).
Grab a large Dutch oven or pot and place on a medium hot stove. Chop your celery, and onion finely. Thinly slice your carrots. Add butter to pot with the vegetables. Add a healthy pinch of salt and cook (stirring) until the onion is opaque and before the carrots begin to caramelize. Add the chicken stock, bouillon cube, white pepper and Maggi Seasoning. Bring to a slow boil. Drop meatballs into boiling soup. Add the vermicelli and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn down heat and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Taste the soup, correct your seasonings and add more chicken stock if needed. Ladle up. Garnish with parsley and fresh grated nutmeg. Makes about 8 servings.