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Chicken soup, chicken meatballs

During this time, my heart regularly pines for Italy. The good news is that her borders are soon to be open but we can not yet leave our shores and international travel seems elusive. I found myself scrolling through my photos, sending hearts on Instagram and looking up apartments on Airbnb. As an antidote, I went for a neighbourhood walk with my camera. The sun was shining on this beautiful Autumn day and through the lens I remembered why I also love where I am. When I returned, the house smelled of chicken soup. Raf was making his regular batch of home made stock which we keep in the freezer so there is no need to spoon in the dodgy, salty stock powder, ever. He has become a chicken stock expert. At the Adelaide Central Market, the Vegas Chicken stall sells fresh organic chicken where we buy bones for soup and that morning we also bought some chicken mince.

In Rome, Venice and even Trani in Puglia, there is a grand tradition of Jewish Italian cooking. A few years ago, on a similar day sunny autumn day in Rome, we sat in the piazza of the Jewish Quarter in Rome with our friends, Angas and Anne and feasted on fried battered fish and crispy deep fried artichokes washed down with a crisp white wine from Frascati. This area of Rome is one of the most interesting and beautiful of the eternal city. The Jewish people have been here since Roman times so they have seen everything - good, bad and ugly. For a cuisine (and the people) to survive so strongly through all of these times is phenomenal and must be celebrated.

The smell of chicken soup reminded me of the recipe for Jewish Chicken meatballs from Antonio Carluccio's cookbook Southern Italian Feast. This small book has some wonderful recipes and was written when there were few Italian cook books in English that celebrated southern cooking. In turn, Antonio borrows this recipe from Donatella Limentani Pavoncello, who was a wonderful Roman Jewish cook and cookery writer. This recipe had been in her family for 400 years.

The recipe is incredibly simple. The meatballs are light and comforting and the celery creates a unique flavour. We ate these with organic Pakistani long grain rice cooked with good olive oil and sprinkled with fresh parsley but I am sure they are also good with bread, pasta or just on their own. Apparently the tradition is to add a couple of wishbones to the sauce for good luck.

500g chicken mince

2 eggs

4 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs

a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon

6 tablespoons of olive oil

2-3 celery sticks cut into small cubes

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

500ml of passata (tomato puree)

a little water or chicken stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the chicken, eggs, breadcrumbs, cinnamon and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well with your hands and then shape the mixture into meatballs. (the consistency is sticky, so it's hard to make them smooth and round, a little rough is fine)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs for a few minutes on each side until they are brown. Set them aside. In the pan add the celery, garlic and tomato puree. Simmer this for 5 minutes. Put the meatballs into the sauce and cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, turning the meatballs once. Add water or stock if the sauce thickens too much. It's best eaten straight away.

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