My grandmother used to make vermicelli soup on Mondays- she actually had a weekly menu where Mondays were soups, Tuesdays were peas, rice and some meat, Wednesdays offered some sort of pie and so on. I always kind of admired the whole ‘menu’ idea when I was growing up and later came to see the significance of it; being a wife and mother is hard work and I am all for changing things up so that life can be just a bit more manageable. I think my grandmother was on to something!
This soup signifies comfort food for me. It’s not rich or fattening, it’s not fried, breaded or cheesy and creamy…but it reminds me of my grandmother. It reminds me of her house- the smells, the dust, the way she would serve us this with soft white bread, buttered to exquisite perfection, the translucent white plastic bowls with little small stubs for ‘feet’ that she’d serve us this in. I miss my grandmother- her wisdom, her quietude, the way she did everything ‘just so’. Bless her, she was a lovely woman.
Her food was always superbly cooked, just enough of everything good. Never too salty or spicy and with just the right amount of sugary sweetness. This soup was no exception. I always remember being excited when she told us lunch was vermicelli soup- the long thin noodles bathed in a clear broth with bits of floating bubbles (later I found out these were bits of salt-butter micelles) and soft perfectly cooked potatoes. I don’t really remember there being any meat, but after making this soup I now know why! The meat simply disappears into the background- a stock cooked for hours on end proves too much for the meat’s survival!
I used chicken- just like my grandmother did-and made a beautifully perfumed chicken stock, but if you have a good, high quality store-bought chicken stock that’s also fine. I also made a few adjustments to her original vermicelli soup recipe- adding carrots and pasta shells for my little one’s enjoyment.
What’s great about this soup is that the broth provides a nice unobtrusive milieu to which anything can be added. You can use different types of meat stock/meat- beef would be lovely- and add vegetables to your heart’s content- cabbage would be great.
For me, I wanted to try to come up with a vermicelli soup recipe similar to my grandmother’s. I wanted to stay as true to her delicious light recipe as possible. Since I never got a chance to ask her for her original recipe I had to come up with one that I felt would come close- golden ray salted butter and all. I think I did a pretty good job… my parents agreed!