Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Traditions - Christmas Eve Escarole Soup

 For as long as I can remember, my mother always made Escarole Soup for Christmas or Christmas Eve Dinner.  I'm not sure what started this tradition (a traditional Italian soup, my mother was Irish-Polish-French) or where the recipe came from, but it remains a staple of the Kill Family Christmas Eve Dinner. 

Since my mother's passing 4 years ago, this tradition has been taken up by me.  My oldest sister K has taken up hosting the family dinner and making the traditional Kill Family meal of lasagna, meatballs and sausage (and sometimes braciole).  She actually had to break with tradition this year because of new floors being installed (way behind schedule) in her house.  She went with a simpler menu of ham, beans and potatoes.  But I still brought the soup.

My mom's original recipe - created on a typewriter.

My marked-up version of the recipe.

The boys helped me this year and rolled all of the little meatballs.  Usually, they start to get bigger toward the end, but they stayed pretty uniform in size this year.

The Pudge actually does wash his hands.  That's the escarole draining after it was cooked.

The finished product.  I waited until I got to my sister's to add the egg-cheese mixture.
I forgot to take my camera to my sister's house to show the finished product.  You'll have to take my word that it was good (I only had one serving left that I had for lunch a few days later) and that we drank a lot of wine. Belated Merry Christmas to everyone!


Sharon Rudd said...

That looks delicious, Buzz! Don't you love those handed-down recipes? And I can SO relate to marking them up :)

My college-age nephew has developed an interest in cooking and my sister suggested that as a stocking stuffer for him I write some recipes on notecards for his recipe box. I took along three of my long-standing family favorites to copy when I got to my sister's, only to realize I never make them quite like the way they're written (like subbing sauteed fresh mushrooms for the canned mushrooms called for in a recipe from "back in the day). I tried to wing it as best I could when writing them down for Nephew, but if he actually tries them and marks them up as he goes along, I'll be honored indeed.

Looking forward to what you have in store for the Smackdown, and v. glad you're back :)

chickory said...

wow - who knew you could make a soup with lettuce? I love that your mothers tradition passed to you, and that she is present at the table when you serve this. When I make gumbo or moms eggy mad - she is with me. I cant wait to see what you do with tofu. Glad to have you back - ive missed you.

Jenny said...

I love this post and really appreciate you continuing your Mother's tradition of her soup on Christmas Eve. I hope your boys take it with them as they start their own families/etc.

And Chickory is right.... it is as if your Mother is at the table with you all. NICE production line on the meatballs and it seems your youngest has the knack for cooking? Or just doing what his Father says? :-) nice post!

moi said...

Mmmmm. Looks like a tasty soup. Rolling all those meatballs without the assistance of child labor, though? I dunno. Two years ago, I made a recipe La Diva sent me—for thai meatballs. After rolling my gazillionth one, with another gazillion to go, I was ready to order in. Even though they were really, really tasty.

czar said...

Thankfully, Dad Czar was wise enough to marry a paisana on his third marriage, so the czarina (and I) get to benefit from all the culinary wisdom. Christmas at my stepmother's house in NYC used to be unreal. Two of her sons were in the restaurant business (as in, neighborhood Italian restaurant in John Gotti's neighborhood), so Christmas Eve was a table 15 yards long filled with every kind of Eye-talian seafood concoction (and all the pastas and gravies) you can imagine. The first year I saw this, it was damn near orgasmic. There were more lobster tails left over than there were eaten.

Then on Christmas night, they did it all again at someone else's house, but with meats -- meatballs, sausages . . . Oh. My. God.

My only visit to her son's Brooklyn restaurant was amusing. They'd just installed the first window in the restaurant's 40-plus-year history. Prior to then, the regular patrons wanted to be protected from drive-by assassinations. I am not making this up.

Aunty Belle said...

Zowie--I cain't top Czar's comment so why'd I have to come after him?

Buzz, yore soup makes mah mouth water--an' yore Mama's presence wif' ya makes my eyes water.

Cain't say how tickled I is to see this post an' have BuzzK back at the keyboard.

czar said...

@Aunty: Apologies. Didn't mean to cramp your style.

And for what it's worth, with Russian Jews on one side of the family and Hungarian Jews on the other, Clan Czar wasn't real long on Christmas traditions . . . unless you count Chinese food or Miami Beach.

Pam said...

But you took a photo of the recipe and that is priceless! Never heard of this soup. But meatballs? I'm all about them. Do you season them or just roll up little balls of burger meat? I bet could make this.

czar said...

@Pam: "But meatballs? I'm all about them. Do you season them or just roll up little balls of burger meat?"

You're British, right? :-)

And you live in the middle part of the US, right? :-)

You've asked a question that would never be posed within 50 miles of either US coast.

Karl said...

Made it to this party quite late guess all the leftovers are gone right Oh yea you said they were.The soup does look very tasty.

Traditions important, particularly keeping them going. When going through my mother's affects, I was making the point that we had to make sure we found my mother's cookbook. If for nothing else her pecan pie recipe. We did find it and brought it home. Later my daughter said, don't worry, we can always get the recipe off the back of the Karo syrup bottle. So much for moms special recipe.

Buzz Kill said...

Blogger is firewalled yet again at my office. I think they're just F-ing with me now.

Note cards? You know he's just going to scan them. The notes on my mom's recipe don't show everything either. Some things you just have to feel. And I wish I had that kind of relationship with my nephews.

Yeah, I think of my mom when I make this too. The "lettuce" was a little more bitter than usual. I may not have blanched it long enough.

I like to think the boys will keep making some of these recipes - or force their wives to make them. And the Pudge just likes to eat - and make waffles now.

The bowl of hamburger doesn't look like much when you start out but I feel it in my fingers and back the next day. I didn't miss that part at all this year.

My father's family was half Italian, but we never did the 7 fishes or anything else you described. I've always wanted to though. I've been in several NYC Italian Family Restaurants and I always sit with my back to the wall. I don't need to but I saw the Godfather and why take chances.

Sorry to get you all wet (that didn't sound right). I have many obstacles and I'll write when I can.

I season them. Hamburger, egg, garlic, onion, oregano and bread crumbs. A lot of more traditional versions of this soup add pasta, but for whatever reason, we don't. And Czar just culinarily bitch slapped you. That wasn't nice. Meatballs are what you make of them.

I'm sure your mom didn't follow the recipe exactly. Nobody follows a recipe exactly. My mom never kept a book, just scraps of paper. Between the family, we have all of the important ones.