When my children were babies, this soup was a staple. I’d open a can of College Inn Chicken Broth (or my mom would give me homemade), and I’d boil pastina and tiny cut up carrots in the broth. Then I’d add the beaten eggs and grated Parmesan cheese, and all was right with the world. My babies were happy as could be, slurping up every last drop, and I felt happy that I had served them a very nutritious meal. Sometimes I’d add baby peas or tiny pieces of cut up cooked chicken. Invariably they’d pick out the chicken, but I was still happy that they were getting protein from the eggs. I can still see their smiling faces, dripping with the broth and pastina everywhere. This is perhaps one of my happiest “kitchen memories,” and can bring tears to my eyes just remembering their smiling, content faces. There’s nothing sweeter. Not only was this a staple in my house, but most Italian American homes always made this for their young children. One of my fondest memories of my maternal grandmother was watching her vigorously beat the eggs with a fork before gently stirring it into the broth. My maternal grandmother didn’t cook much, but she could beat an egg like nobody’s business.
Over the years, as with everything else, this has evolved into much more. Stracciatella soup isn’t just for babies anymore. We all can enjoy it, no matter what age. I’m a big fan of adding all sorts of vegetables to this basic recipe to create an extremely healthy soup. I found this particular recipe in Food and Wine Magazine many years ago, and thought it was fabulous. You can use just about any vegetable you like. I added shitake mushrooms, which are very good for the immune system. Literally, I would add shitake mushrooms to ice cream if I could. I love them and eat them several times a week to ward off infections.
Whether you’re cooking for babies or adults, this will be a very big hit. It’s absolutely delicious, and soothes the soul. The very best part is that it couldn’t be easier. Just open up that can of broth (or use homemade)…add some vegetables and tiny pasta (if you like)…beat in the eggs and parmesan cheese, and you will be soo happy!!!
RECIPE: serves 4
6 to 7 cups chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, finely shredded
2 celery ribs, cut into matchsticks
1/2 pound baby spinach, shredded
8 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms (optional)
3 TBSP minced parsley
4 TBSP grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
3 large eggs, beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan or soup pot, combine the stock and garlic and bring to a boil.
- Add the carrots, celery and mushrooms if using. Cover and cook over moderately high heat until the celery is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach, and the parmesan cheese and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Beat the egg in a bowl and then pour slowly into the soup. Cook over moderately low heat for 30 seconds, gently stirring with a fork until threads appear. Season with salt and pepper.
- Ladle into bowls and serve with grated parmesan cheese.
NOTE: You can cook a small pasta, such as pastina or ditalini, on the side and add just before adding the beaten egg.