parmesan brodo

“The whole truth is that you can love your life, and still yearn for what is missing.”

This quote is from an article Katie Devine wrote recently about being 35 and single. What struck me about her piece was the honesty in her words, something we are often too afraid to be with ourselves. I didn’t expect to walk away from it feeling validated. Our lives are on different paths, but the truth she shared summed up so much of what I’ve been feeling lately.

I am incredibly thankful for my health (let’s hope I didn’t just jinx it!). My daughters, though they drive me crazy often, and I will never love being a single parent, are two gifts I feel so thankful to have in my life. I’m in love again, and loved again, by a person who understands me almost better than I do myself.

And yet, I broke down while writing the other night, into a teary mess, talking to M, asking why he had to go. Most of the parts in my life are good, very good. The sum of the whole, though, leaves me with a longing. I know the work I have to do. It’s as simple as reminding myself every day that it’s okay to miss M, to wonder about what our life would’ve been like had we more time. This is much harder to manage than it sounds. My life is a patchwork quilt in progress. I suppose that’s all of our lives really, cobbled together with bits from our past, pieces from our present, and constantly growing as new days unfold.

After a few months, the cheese drawer of my fridge fills up with dried out cheese rinds. You know, that bit at the end of a wedge of Locatelli or Parmigiano, that is too small to grate without taking some of your knuckles with it. I hope you all save them in a bag, or container, too. Once you’ve collected enough, they will serve you well. Combined with some water, an onion, garlic, peppercorns and parsley, they make for an oh so simple, but satisfying broth called parmigiano brodo in Italian (parmesan brodo is the more common American spelling).

Thankfully my stockpile was large enough to yield a quart of broth to help nurse this cold that came on a few days ago. I simmered the broth with some carrots and elbow macaroni. Tortellini is what I was really craving for my soup, but I had none, so made do with my stand in pasta.

The cheese rinds alone, seem useless. Once collected into a group, and with the aid of a few other ingredients, they work as a team to nourish you. My old life, those memories which seem to be fading faster than I wish, they feed my soul in a very necessary way. They make me long for moments I can never recreate, but they also remind me to never settle. They remind me that love takes work, and is worth fighting for, even if this time the fight is within myself.

Parmesan Brodo

Makes 4 cups

Music Pairing: Friday I’m in Love by The Cure

Feel free to double, even triple the recipe, if you have enough cheese rinds.

7 ounces (196 grams) cheese rinds, any paper at the ends removed (Locatelli, Pecorino or Parmigiano)

1 medium onion, skin removed & cut in half

3 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) white peppercorns

Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley (also called Italian parsley)

6 cups(1.4 L)  cold water

Sea salt, as needed

Add all of the ingredients to a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer (bubbles will pop to the surface). Let cook for one hour. Season with salt, to taste. The liquid will reduce significantly, leaving you with 4 cups of broth.

Pour the broth through a strainer, and let cool completely before storing, covered in the refrigerator. You can use this broth as a base for soups, sauce, and making risotto.

Comments

  • Caroline @ Pink Basil: Jenny, I always love reading your blog, your recipes are amazing and your words are so eloquently moving. I especially related to this one; my mother passed away this year, and I’m constantly torn between wishing she was here, and being grateful beyond words for everything else I have. Thanks for sharing yourself so honestly, wishing you and your girls peace & happiness xoxo

  • Radhika: Wait!! Did I read that right?? You are in love!? Yay!!! Much happiness to you. Mikey will always be your angel, watching over his girls! Sail on Jennie.

  • Jackie: A beautiful, poignant post. Thank you for this, and the recipe!
    I have several rinds dawdling in the freezer–never remembering to add to soups. I can’t wait to try this.

  • Jessica @ Burlap and Butter Knives: I love throwing hard rinds in with my minestrone and escarole soups!

    And congrats on the love, that is wonderful!! Hopefully he is close and can help warm up the cold country winter nights ahead!! xoxo

  • Suzanne: So happy that you are in love again. I am sure Mikey would want you to move on and live and love again. In no way does that take away from the years you had together. And of course the soup sounds delicious. I didn’t even know you could use the rinds!

  • Julie Courey: Hi Jennie_
    I have saved the rinds of parmesan and added them to soup before so this wasn’t news. Your reference to your new love, however, THAT IS NEWS!!!
    My husband passed away four years ago and I found love again myself.
    It’s not an easy road to give yourself permission to, but it’s OK to have a “second LOVE of your life”. Go Jennie!!!

  • Nancy Shampo: “I’m in love again, and loved again, by a person who understands me almost better than I do myself.” This is great news!!!

  • Sue: Soup sounds wonderful! On my list for this weekend. As for your new love, that’s awesome! You deserve it!

  • Wendy: Congratulations on finding someone you love and who loves you. You deserve it. Don’t let anyone let you feel guilty about loving again! I lost my fiancé to cancer and am now remarried. At first some people gave me a hard time, but those people are no longer in my life!

  • Angie D: I’ve been following you for 2 1/2 years. My heart smiles that you are in love again. I wish you the best. Your recipes are amazing, your words refreshingly honest and I thank you for sharing.

  • Anna: I come here for comfort, Jennie. I don’t know you of course but I’ve been reading for some time… always because I’m amazed at how you’ve navigated the dark waters of grief and how you keep going. And now here I am, in my own grief at the incredibly sudden loss of my baby, and I come back, this time a different person, but back for the same reasons. Thank you for always being honest and putting yourself out there.

    With love, Anna

  • Karin: Beautiful words Jenni, as always. I did have to read that one sentence over a few times to see if I read it right. And if I did, I am so so so happy for you :) As I am sitting on my own couch right now nursing a cold, with my laptop on my lap, I am now thinking about the big rind of parm that I have leftover from our Oct trip to Italy. Might have to make myself get up off the couch to make this for dinner…thanks!

  • Kathy: Hi Jennie,

    I call it “composing a life”, which is exactly what you are doing. Sounds like you are in love again, what a great holiday gift you just threw out there. Couldn’t be happier for you – also, I think you deserve another “A” side too by the way.

    Keep creating, you have so much talent.

    Kathy

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