“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Since there are monstrous snowbanks lining the roads I now stand in the street while I wait for the bus, as opposed to waiting demurely on the curb, which is perhaps six to eight inches higher than the pavement.  When the bus arrived yesterday, stopping perfectly before me, I realized those few inches make all the difference.  The first step was at the same height as my knees.  The bus driver very graciously offered to lower the bus, but instead I gamely hoisted myself in.  I know I’m short, but this was ridiculous.  As I tapped my CharlieCard to the fare reader, the driver smiled at me and said sweetly, “My dear, next time, I would be honored to assist you onto my bus.”

Of course, I blushed.

At the post office later, I read my book until my number was called.  Then I was helped by the most cheerful postal worker I have ever met; she complimented me on my package-wrapping skills, insisting I come over in December to help her at Christmastime.  When the total on my shipping costs came to $6.66, she gasped, and insisted I purchase at least a 1¢ stamp.

“It’s bad luck,” she kept on repeating, all but wringing her hands. I couldn’t be swayed though, so she wished me good karma, told me to keep warm and sent me out into the cold.

italian-wedding-soupAs I walked amidst the commuters heading home, scarf spiraled around my neck and my fingers ensconced in too-thin gloves, I realized these two people, strangers both, wanted so very much to extend the smallest courtesies to me.  It’s in my nature to refuse aid when it’s offered (I don’t know why) yet I am one of those people who trips over her own feet — often bruising herself in the process — to help her friends.  Suddenly, I wished I could rush back to the considerate bus driver and the tenderhearted postal clerk and somehow make it all up to them.  Of course, I couldn’t — but if I could, I would express my appreciation with a bowl of soup, the sort with strong, warm arms to comfort and say, Thank you.

Italian Wedding Soup, adapted from Everyday Food
Makes six portions.

1 pound ground dark meat turkey, 93% lean
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used four, since I can never get enough garlic)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ dried breadcrumbs (I made my own, and used about ¾ a cup)
¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 heads escarole, coarsely chopped (my local market didn’t have escarole, so I replaced it with kale)
coarse salt and ground pepper

  1. In a bowl, combine turkey, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Using 1 tablespoon for each, roll mixture into balls.
  2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Cook onion, stirring occasionally until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add broth, tomatoes and their juice; bring to a simmer.  Add meatballs and cook without stirring until meatballs float to the surface, about 5 minutes
  3. Add as much escarole to pot as will fit.  Cook, gradually adding remaining escarole until wilted and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Thin soup with water if necessary and season with salt and pepper.  Serve soup sprinkled with more Parmesan.
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