My grammar school friend, Val, lost her mom to cancer and the service was held at Holy Cross Cemetery, where my father-in-law is also buried. Being there made me think about the circumstances of his death, and my pot of Funeral Soup. This is a meatless version, but after I photographed it, leftover Turkey Meatloaf was chopped into cubes and added.
The story of Funeral Soup is this. It was before dawn when Larry’s mother called from Fiji to tell us dad had died while snorkeling during their last weekend of vacation. The kids rallied to get mom back to California, and dealt with the complicated process of returning dad’s remains from a foreign place. Her flight landed two mornings later and we got her home, jet lagged and wanting her own bed. As she snoozed, the kids quietly launched into funeral mode; my role was to just be there. But as hours passed, my stomach was growling; Larry had no appetite so I was in no position to pipe up. An empty fridge and pantry, of course they had prepared for six-weeks gone. My leaving for groceries would be a bad idea. I didn’t have any tasks, so I dug around in the kitchen (tried to be as quiet as possible) and rounded up staples for a pot of something. In went cans of everything and dried spices. I think the available pasta was macaroni. The aroma tipped off the family; each eventually showed up at the Formica table for a bowl. Days later, after the service and back at the house with guests, the word appeared to be out. Ladies kept asking me for the recipe I made “from nothing.” Since then I’ve bundled all the ingredients in a basket with a recipe card, bottle of wine, crackers and chocolates as gifts. One occasion for this basket is when there is a death; nothing is perishable and eventually you have to eat. This post is in honor of Val’s mom, Fran Turchi.
- 1 can kidney or black beans, drained
- 1 can low-salt diced tomatoes, Italian-style is fine
- 1 can low-salt corn
- 1 can low-salt chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp. Italian spices
- 2 cups dried pasta, such as bowtie, elbow macaroni or shells
In large pot, combine beans, tomatoes, corn, chicken broth and spices. Heat to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. In a medium pot, boil water. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and add to soup. Serves 6 to 8.