Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Italian Wedding Soup + A Girl's Trip

Back in September, one of my dearest girlfriends turned 40. I can't believe I'm even old enough to have friends that are turning that age. :)

She took us - her 'tribe' - to one of her most beloved places to celebrate : Door county, Wisconsin. Random? Heck no. She's been going here every summer since she was a baby. I think they determined that they've only missed one summer when they were living overseas - and even that was up for debate.

It was beautiful, the weather was cooler than it's been here since February, the water was gorgeous, the company was fabulous and the food was great. It was a fantastic trip and was so good to get away with some girlfriends for several days!

Our conversations changed wildly from one moment to another. We discussed what shows we should be binge watching on television (Hart of Dixie) and how saddened we are by the watering down the gospel. We laughed about knowing how to chop an onion and then relayed the challenges we are all experiencing raising our kids in this crazy culture.

A roller coaster of heavy + upbeat conversation, if you will.

And it got me thinking.

The best kinds of friends are the ones that you can laugh with until there's a little tinkle in your pants but then cry together over your deepest soul longings the very next moment. The ones that will pick you up off of the bathroom floor and tell you that "you've got this" and the same ones that will come cheer on your kids at the soccer game on Saturday. They're the ones that challenge you to love deeper, to work out differences, to be more like Christ, to pray harder and to live bolder. They not only push you to be brave, but they hold you up as you are doing so. They don't leave you to be brave and bold by yourself, they walk alongside you. Holding your hand, giving you kleenex and dropping goodies off on your porch as you go.

I am blessed tremendously with a mini-tribe of women in my life. They all bring something different to the table. Some bring tenderness and compassion. Some are fiercely loyal and tell me like it is. Some challenge me to be a better mom. Some challenge me to be a better wife. All challenge me to be more like Christ.

As I enter my mid-thirties this year (I might already be there), I am reminded of how often I prayed this for myself in my twenties. I prayed for a tribe of women who surround me not with "yes" answers, but with love, conviction and holiness. I moved around so often growing up that I was never able to cultivate those deep relationships that come more naturally in your thirties. In your thirties you are done with the surface conversations and instead dig deeper quicker. It is life-giving, y'all.

I am thankful for my deep friendships - young and old (and no I'm not necessarily talking about age.) I am thankful for the color that they bring to my life and for the warmth that they provide on even the coldest days. 

Just like this soup.

While in Door County, Sarah's sister Beth (one of my most favorite people), made this Italian Wedding Soup for us one night as we watched the saddest movie ever made - Me Before You. (To say I was ugly crying at the end of it is probably an understatement.) It was cold and kind of raining and we were all missing our families but enjoying our time away - and this soup was the perfect thing to end that day. I asked Beth and she graciously has allowed me to share it with you. I promise you will be making it all. the. time.

Beth's Italian Soup

Ingredients :

1 lb. Spicy Breakfast Sausage (Jimmy Dean)
8 C. Beef Stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 finely chopped white onion
1/2 c. water
12 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. jullienned carros
28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 TBS Italian Seasoning (plus more to taste)
8 oz chopped mushrooms
1-1/2 c. sliced and quartered zucchini
8 oz package cheese tortellini
Red Pepper or Chilli Flakes to taste

Directions : 

1. In large heavy bottomed pot, brown sausage until crumbled and nicely browned. When sausage is barely pink, add minced onion and chopped garlic. Cook until soft.

2.  Drain, reserving 2-3 tbs. (Don't tell your doctor!)

3. Return to pot. Add water, tomato sauce, white wine, carrots, diced tomatoes (with juice), beef broth and italian seasoning. STIR WELL. 

4. Bring to a boil and then put heat on low and cook for 1-2 hours. Your house will then smell like an Italian restaurant. 

5. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, adding more heat (red pepper flakes), salt or pepper. Add tortellini and zucchini. Cook on low for 30 minutes more. 

6. Serve hot with crusty bread and a salad. 

***I have kept this soup for 5 days in the fridge, eating off of it every day. It only gets better. It also freezes pretty well without the tortellini! It makes a HUGE batch so make plans to share with a neighbor!!***

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