One usually associates Roman cooking with hearty and robustly flavored dishes and, by and large, the image holds true. But there are some exceptions like today’s offering: stracciatella, a light ‘egg drop soup’, perfect for a light first course or supper. It’s a great choice for those occasions when you may not be very hungry—perhaps you’ve had a big lunch or midday dinner—but don’t feel like actually skipping a meal. If you have broth on hand, it is also very quick and can be made quite literally on the spur of the moment.
To make stracciatella, bring some broth to a fairly brisk simmer (but not a rolling boil). While the broth is coming up to heat, in a mixing bowl scramble (per serving) an egg together with a spoonful each of semolina and grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt, a good grind of pepper and, if you like, a bit of nutmeg. Mix well to make a perfectly homogenous mixture. When the broth is at the simmer, slowly pour the egg mixture into the broth, all the time whisking (or stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon) in a single direction. The egg mixture will form little curds that are said to look like ‘little rags’ (hence the name stracciatella is derived from stracetti, which means little rags). Allow to simmer for just a couple of minutes more and serve, with additional grated cheese on the side for those who care for it.
NOTES: As usual, even with a soup this simple, variations abound. The semolina is original and is featured in all the most traditional recipes, including the one in the authoritative Talismano della Felicità. But modern recipes often omit it, which makes for an even lighter dish, or substitute bread crumbs, which make the ‘lilttle rags’ taste rather like passatelli from Emilia-Romagna. The recipe proposed by the Accademia della Cucina Italiana in La cucina del Bel Paese calls for a bit of grated lemon zest. Some recipes call for a bit of chopped parsley for color and add a bit of finely chopped carrot and celery.
The choice of broth is yours—chicken, beef or a brodo classico all go well. Chicken is my personal favorite. The important thing is that the broth be homemade and flavorful.
This dish is not to be confused, of course, with the gelato of the same name. Another Roman dish called straccetti, is made with thinly sliced and shredded beef sautéed with arugula, but that is a recipe for another post.
so you'll never miss a post...