With the colder weather come all sorts of colds, aches and pains and other nasty bugs that seem to be lurking in every workplace and train carriage. My mamma, who had not been sick for years even caught a nasty cold from someone at her weekly exercise class and has been coughing and sneezing ever since. I wish I could spend a bit more time with her and make her some chicken soup (brodo) like she used to make for me when I was little.
When I was living in the family home, sick and without much appetite, mamma would always give me some of her amazing brodo to warm and heal me. To this she would either add pastina (fine or small pasta shapes that cook in a couple of minutes, like “angel’s hair” pasta) or stracciatella, which is a type of egg drop soup traditionally from around Rome. Stracciatella was always my favourite. It doesn’t look that appetising but do not be fooled! In addition to its magical healing properties (or that is what mamma had me believe), it is just delicious. You take good quality chicken and/or beef stock (I make mine with a whole skinned organic chicken, a carrot, a stick of celery and half an onion, slow cooked for at least 3 hours), throw some eggs beaten with Parmesan cheese into the boiling soup and let it cook for a few minutes. It is as simple as that. I swear that it made me get better faster, or maybe because it tasted so good, I felt better after eating it. The soft cheese eggy lumps that form and cook with the broth are wholesome and tasty. You can also add a pinch of nutmeg to the eggs, lemon zest or marjoram. I love stracciatella with a bit of parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. It is seriously delicious. I know you will feel better after you taste it!
Stracciatella in brodo (Italian egg drop soup)
Chicken soup, home made (250 ml or 1 cup per person)
Parmesan cheese (75g or 1/4 cup loosely packed per person, grated)
Eggs (one per person)
Parsley leaves, chopped (1 teaspoon per person)
Lemon juice (1/2 teaspoon per person) or a bit of lemon zest if you prefer
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the required amount of soup in a saucepan. Whilst this is heating, break the egg/eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork, then whisk in the Parmesan cheese, the salt and pepper, the lemon and the parsley. When the soup is boiling, remove from the heat, add the egg mixture and give it a bit of a whisk. Put back on the heat at medium-high and allow to boil for a couple of minutes, stirring a few times, until the egg forms clumps and is cooked. Serve immediately in a warmed soup bowl.
Here is a photo of mamma, me and next door neighbour Anthony, in our backyard, probably when she started to feed me brodo with stracciatella.