Stracciatella: Italian Egg Drop Soup for Easter and Spring Colds

Stracciatella gussied up with shredded dandelion. greens.Photos © by Rick Wise

Stracciatella gussied up with shredded young dandelion greens. See the ingredient list for more spring greens variations. Photos © by Rick Wise

Piping warm homemade chicken broth afloat with egg curds is a quintessential Spring soup–simple, pure, uncomplicated, refreshing, soothing. The nutritious chicken broth is the main point. Together with the egg, it’s a paen to new beginnings and a celebration of health in an elegant opening for a Spring party or a delicate-yet-filling bowl of protein for an invalid in need of bolstering  The egg curds, or drops, offer a subtle bit of “chew,” like tiny gluten-free dumplings.

Ingredients for stracciatella. For best results, the broth should be homemade, the eggs newly laid from pasteured chickens, and the cheese genuine parmigiano reggiano or another of the noble hard grating cheeses of Italy.

Ingredients for stracciatella. For best results, the broth should be homemade, the eggs fresh from an organic farmer, and the cheese genuine parmigiano reggiano or another of the noble hard grating cheeses of Italy.

Makes  2 to 3 servings

4 cups chicken broth

1 packed cup thinly shredded spring greens, such as dandelion, spinach, nettles, watercress, fava bean leaves, baby turnip greens (optional)

2 large eggs

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano or other Italian hard grating cheese, such as aged Asiago or Romano

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Freshly grated nutmeg

Kosher or fine sea salt, to taste

1. Heat the broth in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until beginning to boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer. If using greens, add them now and cook until wilted, abut 2 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Add the cheese and parsley and whisk to mix. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot broth. Let rest without stirring for a few seconds while egg curds form, then gently swirl the curds into the broth. Season with a few grates of nutmeg and salt to taste and serve.

Peanuts and Chiles in an Asian Sauce

Asian peanut chili sauce is a marvel of global cookery: two New World staples, peanuts and chilies, combined with lime juice and ancient nam pla (fish sauce) in an energetic sauce for dipping or dressing.

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Dried chilies and fresh peanuts from my farmers’ market last July.
Photo/illustration © by Rick Wise

Peanuts, the main ingredient, are a New World ground nut that wended its way from South America to Africa to Asia and across the Pacific Ocean to North America, embedding itself along the way into the cuisines of all those places. Chilies, also a New World native, had a similar tour around the world, and when it got to Asia and the Pacific Islands, married peanuts in many delicious ways: sometimes with hoisin sauce; sometimes with soy sauce; sometimes with Asian fish sauce. Sometimes the sauce is thin and liquid, with the peanuts coarsely chopped and floating; sometimes it’s a thick puree, more dip like. Almost always some sugar is called for.

A frolicking celery heart taking a dunk in peanut chili sauce.

A frolicking celery heart taking a dip in peanut chili sauce. Photo © by Rick Wise

The rendition I settled on is akin to a Filipino sauce used for lumpia, a sort of egg roll wrap. I add no sugar to the sauce; the peanuts are naturally sweet enough for my taste. As either dipping sauce or side garnish, peanut chili sauce can dress up beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, vegetables, spring or summer rolls, lumpia, and various other wrapped delights. If you prefer to keep the sauce vegetarian, substitute Tamari soy sauce for the fish sauce.

Makes 2/3 cup

1/3 cup chunky, unsweetened peanut butter

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, preferably 3 Crabs brand

1/8 cup water

1 clove garlic minced or pressed

2 small dried red chile peppers, crumbled (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly blended. Use right away or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Homemade Chicken Broth the “Easy” Way

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Photo © by Rick Wise. To see it full screen, left click on the image.

As a matter of routine, I periodically devote stove time and frig and freezer space to making and having on hand homemade chicken broth. It’s one of a cook’s best friends.

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Beef and Black Bean Chili

February 2, 2014, Big Game Day.  Or for any game day, chili con carne, chilied beans with meat, fills the bill, whether for a few or many.

Photo © by Rick Wise. Left click on the image to see it full screen.

Photos © by Rick Wise. Left click on any image to see it full screen.

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Spinach and Kale Soup with Bread Hunks and Parmesan Cheese

In Winter I wish for soup, warm soup. Echoing my recent foray into the land of kale (see December posts), here’s a winter wonder

Sooup3
Photo © by Rick Wise. To see the photo full screen, left click on the image.

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Bold: The Cookbook

Hip, hip, and hooray! My new book, Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors,  co-authored with Susanna Hoffman, is out, meaning you can  find it in your local bookstore or order it online, just in time for holiday gifting. It’s our fifth cookbook collaboration, a compendium of dishes we’ve dreamed up, cooked up, tasted, and liked during more than 40 years cooking and working together. We’re excited and hope you will be, too.

Front cover

Front cover

Back cover

Back cover

Minestrone with Wild Rice, White Beans, Kale Mash, and Anchovy Toasts

Minestrone is an Italian way to say love with a warming soup chock full of good-for-you foods like beans, pasta, and vegetables floating in a succoring broth.

Wild Rice and White Bean Minestrone with Kale Pesto/Anchovy Toasts. Photos c by Rick Wise. To see a picture full screen left click on the image.

Wild Rice and White Bean Minestrone with Kale Mash/Anchovy Toasts
Photos © by Rick Wise. To see a picture full screen left click on the image.

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