Brush up your Shakespeare: Italian Wedding Soup

I wish I could say that I read Shakespeare when I don’t have to—I would seem so much deeper. Maybe it’s the language that looks artificial to my shallow, modern eye or maybe it’s the discipline of reading rhyme, but I never pull out my old “Chaucer to Shakespeare” textbook when I want to curl up with a good book. 

Watching a play in person is another story—after a few minutes, the awkwardness of hearing 16th Century English fades away and the drama, or comedy, takes hold. I wanted to visit Chicago’s Navy Pier anyway, so when I saw that there was a Saturday matinee of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I bought an on-line ticket and took the #65 bus to the pier. 

It was a bright, sunny day, the Pier was crowded with the young and hip, Mom, Dad, and the kids, olds like me, and packs of roaming teens followed by an occasional adult. Prominent signs declaring that “No one under 18 allowed on the Navy Pier after 5:00 pm without an escort” assured even the most timid that tomfoolery and shenanigans were unlikely. 

I found my seat in the intimate theater and settled in as the lights flickered to quiet the audience. An actor dressed as his character bounded onto the stage, welcomed us, and encouraged everyone to relax, not to worry about the plot, and to just enjoy the experience. The actors, who were skilled professionals, changed characters and costumes offstage frequently and presented the play confidently, without hesitation.

After the last bow was taken, the entire cast sat down on the stage floor and opened the floor to remarks from the audience. There were grade school, middle school, and high school English classes in attendance and many eager hands shot up, waving to be the one chosen to ask a question. Anyways, I enjoyed it all and vowed to see another play soon.

Navy Pier yacht, Odyssey, available to book for cruises on Lake Michigan.

The set for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”


Polk Brothers Park sculpture, “Prismaticia—an installation comprised of pivoting prisms more than two metres high transforming the space into a giant kaleidoscope.”

Italian Wedding Soup


  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1  egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • Or 3/4 tsp. Italian herb combination
  • Salt to taste

Soup base:

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 lb. diced mushrooms
  • 1 Tblsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. dried red chilies
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1 peeled, diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo 
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 cups chopped spinach 
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Meatballs: In medium bowl combine, meat, egg, bread crumbs, milk, parmesan cheese, seasonings, salt, and pepper; shape into small meatballs.

In large sauce pan, sauté diced onion, mushrooms, garlic, and chilies for 3-5 minutes until onions are soft. Season with salt.

 Add carrots, meatballs, and orzo and sauté 3-5 minutes. 

Add chicken stock, bring to simmer and cook until carrots are soft, 10-15 minutes. 

Add chopped spinach.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

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One Response to Brush up your Shakespeare: Italian Wedding Soup

  1. Patricia Curtis says:

    Wish I could have joined you …I love to go to plays, even if they are Shakespeare! Especially with a good friend…that would make it totally delightful. Hugs, to you two sweeties.

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