Tag Archives: Sarah Dunant

Recipes – Italian Wedding Soup

While reading Sarah Dunant’s Blood and Beauty I knew I wanted to make something Italian that related to the book. I was looking into food from the Italian Renaissance, but most of the information available is about food that was eaten in places like England. Italians, living in a more temperate climate would have eaten different food than other Europeans. Chances are they would have eaten a lot of fish, and “fish soup” seems to have been popular, in addition to things like figs and cheese. Because fish soup doesn’t sound that appealing I decided to try making Italian Wedding Soup. Lucrezia was my favourite character and some of the major scenes in the book revolved around her weddings. Although Italian Wedding Soup is relatively recent, it still fits the theme.

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 This recipe is similar to a soup one of my high school friends would make for me when I was over at her house. I bring the package of chicken noodle soup to a boil and she would beat eggs and Parmesan cheese together before dropping it into the boiling soup. It was her version of Stracciatella, or egg-drop soup. I used her recipe as a base for this one.

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I generally use 8 cups of chicken broth which makes the soup a but thicker. If you like really liquidy soup, add as much chicken broth as you’d like.

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There are a lot of recipes out there for making meatballs from scratch, but these PC mini meatballs were the perfect size. Just throw as many as you want in the oven, following the instructions on the box while boiling the chicken broth.

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While boiling the chicken broth you need to make the egg/parmesean cheese/spinach mixture which is really simple. Just let the frozen spinach thaw for an hour or two and then make sure you squeeze out all the extra moisture. If not it waters down the soup and detracts from the flavour. I normally use around one cup of grated Parmesan cheese, but you can always add more.

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Add the Orzo, meatballs, and a salt and pepper to taste and you have a meal fit for an Italian Pope’s illegitimate daughter.

Cheers

Italian Wedding Soup
1 package of chopped frozen spinach (thawed)
4 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
8 cups of chicken broth
2 cups Orzo Pasta
Cooked meatballs (either handmade or store bought)
Salt and Pepper

  1. Drain the spinach squeezing out all the water
  2. Beat eggs with Parmesan cheese and add spinach to the mixture
  3. Bring chicken broth to a boil and add the spinach mixture by the spoonful into the broth.
  4. Add the Orzo past and simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally
  5. Add meatballs and serve

Sarah Dunant – Blood and Beauty (2013)

blood-and-beauty

The Borgia’s gained popularity a while backs with the highly sensationalized TV series. I haven’t watched the TV series, nor do I think that I will, (I learned my lesson with the Tudors). As a work of historical fiction, Dunant’s book provides readers with an interesting view of the infamous Italian family.

My knowledge of this time period is a little bit shaky. Having attended a Catholic high school the Papacy of the Borgias is something that was often swept under the rug and ignored. After doing a bit of research on the family, I’m not going to lie, I can see where Martin Luther was coming from with his 95 Theses. The Borgias were a modern day Mafioso living in Renaissance Italy. While the family was a dynasty, Dunant’s book focuses on Rodrigo’s reign as Pope (Pope Alexander VI) and the lives of his four children. The most shocking thing about the lives of the Borgias is that, at the time, a Pope having children, especially with multiple women, was not seen as scandalous. The historical record shows that people knew that the Pope had children and accepted this fact. It was only after the Reformation that the Pope’s vows of celibacy were enforced.

At the time, being the Pope was essentially the most powerful position in Europe. Dunant details the escapades of Rodrigo in trying to exercise absolute control through strategic alliances arranged by marriage. This was especially important since Rodrigo was a Spanish Pope in an Italian Papacy. Dunant does a good job in her characterization of Rodrigo, but she displays complete mastery with Rodrigo’s daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. At the beginning of the book Lucrezia is a young teenager excited at the prospect of her upcoming marriage to the Lord of Pesaro. As the book progresses and Lucrezia finds herself as a pawn in her father’s plans, she hardens and becomes and intelligent woman in her own right. By the end of the book she is a fiercely independent woman working to ensure the best for her own children. It is Lucrezia’s transformation that made this book a joy to read.