This lovely dish comes to us from the province of Teramo on the eastern slopes of the Gran Sasso in the region of Abruzzo. Scrippelle ‘mbusse, literally meaning ‘wet crepes’ in local dialect, are just that: light crepes (crespelle in standard Italian) that are filled with grated cheese, rolled up and doused with hot homemade broth. Sounds simple—and it is—but the combination is pure genius.
Tradition has it that scrippelle ‘mbusse were invented by mistake, when a young cook absent-mindedly dropped some crespelle he was making into boiling broth. Fearing for his job, he made out as if he had done it intentionally and served his new dish to the awaiting guests. Lucky for him, the accidental invention turned out to be hit.
Scrippelle ‘mbusse are light but very satisfying. And though made with simple ingredients, it looks quite elegant on the plate, so it is equally at home at a family supper or as a first course for an elegant dinner party. This warming dish is commonly associated with the colder months, but I’d be happy to tuck into a bowl of scrippelle at any time of year.
Makes about 12 scrippelle
- 4 eggs
- 65g (1/2 cup) flour
- 750ml (1-1/2 cup) or so water (or milk, or a mixture of milk and water)
- Minced parsley (optional)
- Grated nutmeg (optional)
- Olive oil (or lard)
To complete the dish:
- Grated pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese, q.b.
- Homemade broth
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl, then add the flour bit by bit, whisking all the time until you have a rather thick uniform paste. As you continue whisking, drizzle in enough water that the batter attains the consistency of light cream. Whisk in a pinch of salt and, if using, the parsley and/or nutmeg.
Let the batter rest for a good 30 minutes or more at room temperature.
Heat the oil (or lard) in a crepe pan or small nonstick skillet (about 23cm/9 in diameter). When the pan is hot, drizzle in a bit of oil (or melt a small knob of lard) and then pour on a small ladleful of the batter and swirl it around so it very thinly covers the bottom of the pan. Let the batter set, and when it just begins to brown on the bottom, flip it over and let it cook very briefly on the other side. The whole operation should take less than one minute. Remove the resulting crêpe aka scrippella to a dish.
Repeat until you’ve used up all the batter.
Bring your broth to a simmer.
Lay your scrippelle aka crepes out on a flat surface to dry a bit, then top each with a very generous portion of the grated cheese. Roll the crepes up very tightly, with the prettier side on outside, and arrange them, in soup plates, seam side down.
Ladle the piping hot broth on top of the crepes.
Serve right away with more grated cheese on the side for those who want it.
Notes on Scrippelle ‘mbusse
One important word to the wise: Like a lot of Italian dishes, the simplicity of this dish leaves mediocre ingredients no place to hide. The broth especially needs to be top notch—and of course homemade—or your scrippelle ‘mbusse are likely to disappoint.
Recipes are all over the map when it comes to measurements (again like a lot of Italian recipes). The amount of liquid in particular, varies quite a bit. In calling for as much as 750ml/1-1/2 cups of water or milk, I’ve gone for the top of the range, as in my testing I found that more liquid produces finer crepes.
And indeed, your scrippelle should be paper-thin. If you find they are coming out too thick, add bit more water to the batter and/or use less batter in a single go. They will be quite delicate, even more so than the standard French crepes you may be familiar with, so you’ll need to handle them very gingerly. Don’t fret too much if they tear a bit here and there; small tears are easily hidden when you roll up your scrippelle. If they are just too delicate to handle, on the other hand, whisking an extra spoonful of flour into the batter should firm them up a bit.
As I’ve indicated in the ingredients list, many recipes for scrippelle ‘mbusse (including I suspect the original one) call for water as the only liquid for thinning out the egg and flour paste. Others call for a bit of milk and the rest water, and still others, like this lovely version from noted cookbook author and cyberfriend Domenica Marchetti, call for all milk, which I’m sure gives a lushly rich result.
The cooking medium for making the scrippelle was originally lard but these days olive oil often rules; a few recipes call for butter, in the French manner. The use (or not) of parsley, in the batter or sometimes sprinkled on top of the finished product, also varies from recipe to recipe. Most omit it but I thought it added a nice touch of color to an otherwise monochrome dish. Most recipes call specifically for chicken broth but others are less specific. Some call for a bit of nutmeg in the batter, while yet others call for a touch of cinnamon in the filling.
Another, perhaps less obvious variation, lies in how you serve your scrippelle. Just two or three on a plate makes this dish into a kind of soup, but some people will fill the dish with them, turning the dish into a kind of very wet pasta. If you want a proper soup, you can cut your scrippelle into strips rather than rolling them, and use your grated cheese as a topping rather than a filling.
Forgetting the broth altogether, you can make baked pasta dishes with scrippelle, using them much like pasta all’uovo to make cannelloni or, most famously, layered between meat sauce to make the lasagne-like timballo di scrippelle, popular around the holidays. But these dishes deserve their own posts in the future…
Making scrippelle ahead
You can make your scrippelle ahead of time. They will keep well for several days in fridge, covered in plastic wrap. (They say you can freeze them as well, but I haven’t tested that out myself.) Gently warm them in the oven (or give them a quick zap in the microwave) to bring them back to life, then proceed with the recipe from there.
- 4 eggs
- 65g 1/2 cup flour
- 750ml 1-1/2 cup or so water (or milk, or a mixture of milk and water)
- Minced parsley optional
- Grated nutmeg optiona
- Olive oil (or lard)
To complete the dish:
- Grated pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese
- Homemade broth
- Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl, then add the flour bit by bit, whisking all the time until you have a rather thick uniform paste. As you continue whisking, drizzle in enough water that the batter attains the consistency of light cream. Whisk in a pinch of salt and, if using, the parsley and/or nutmeg.
- Let the batter rest for a good 30 minutes or more at room temperature.
- Heat the oil (or lard) in a crepe pan or small nonstick skillet (about 23cm/9 in diameter). When the pan is hot, drizzle in a bit of oil (or melt a small knob of lard) and then pour on a small ladleful of the batter and swirl it around so it very thinly covers the bottom of the pan. Let the batter set, and when it just begins to brown on the bottom, flip it over and let it cook very briefly on the other side. The whole operation should take less than one minute. Remove the resulting crêpe aka scrippella to a dish.
- Repeat until you've used up all the batter.
- Bring your broth to a simmer.
- Lay your scrippelle aka crepes out on a flat surface to dry a bit, then top each with a very generous portion of the grated cheese. Roll the crepes up very tightly, with the prettier side on outside, and arrange them, in soup plates, seam side down.
- Ladle the piping hot broth on top of the crepes.
- Serve right away with more grated cheese on the side for those who want it.
We make a chicken soup with these.
Cook a chicken add whole carrots onion celery
Add cinnamon sticks
Remove the chicken and vegetables
Strain the broth
Add chopped Spinich and rice that was cooked separately
Add cut up chicken add it
Cut scapells (we called then this incorrectly)longways and again into squares
Salt and pepper and of course generous amounts of Parmesan.
Mmmmmm it’s good my dear.
Sounds wonderful, John.
My grandmother used to make these. My mom makes these (both born and raised in Giulianova, Abruzzo. I also make them. Ours are a tad different now because of non stick pans so we don’t use butter or any oil. My daughter loves them rolled up stuffed with ricotta, topped with tomato sauce and baked. She also loves them for breakfast, either sprinkled with a bit of sugar and rolled up (my mom used to do this when I was child), or doused with a bit of maple syrup. We also don’t add anything else besides milk, eggs, flour (equal parts) and then water to loosen the batter. They are so versatile and even yummy on their own.
They really are yummy! And those sound like delicious ways to enjoy them. Thanks for the comment, Nat.
Dear Frank, we make this soup every year at Easter time. My grandmother, from Colle Terre Alto , called it Scrippelle im busso. I travelled back to Italy with her in 1994. All the elders gathered around her at passegiato time, fascinated that she spoke the old, lesser used dialect. Thank you for a chance to remember! Michele
You’re welcome, Michele! Happy to have brought back those happy memories for you. 🙂
We make these all of the time. They are our comfort food. My mother-in-law’s family was from Valle San Giovanni. We were lucky enough to visit there once and hope to go back again some day. Now that Mom has passed, we are researching all of her recipes and trying to learn more about them. Your recipe is almost the same and I bet delicious. Every so often we try to recreate a recipe that Mom didn’t write down. Mom taught both of my kids to cook at a young age in her kitchen. Mom always made “homemade” and we only use Locatelli cheese. Thanks for sharing some of the history of this favorite food. I look forward to reading more and trying your recipes.
Thanks, Patricia! And welcome to the blog. 🙂 Hope you find the recipes you’re looking for here.
My grandfather was from the village of Canzano near Teramo. He married my Grandmother from Hammonton NJ who’s family came from Sicily. She made these for Christmas or Easter. I never knew what they were called until I saw them on FB!! Can’t wait ti try these! Grazie!
Hope you like this recipe, Patti! I certainly do…
Frank my Grandmother was from Valle San Giovanni, Teramo in Italy. She would use 2 heavy cast iron pans and use fat back. We now use 4 light weight crape pans much easier. We make this every year for Christmas. I also make it during the winter. I have found you can freeze it. My mother will freeze the entire batch. I do it a little differently. I make the crapes and keep changing the stack order to get them soft. Then in the same day I roll them with the cheese. I lay them on baking sheets then freeze them for a few hours. Once frozen I put them in ziplock bags. This way I can make them weeks in advance.
Great tips, Colleen. Thanks so much for sharing!
This recipe has been in our family for over 100 years. I think I found its origin. Napoleon invaded Italy in 1798 and French troops entered Teramo, and though they were initially repulsed by the citizens, they returned a few days later, sacking the whole city. In 1806 Napoleon defeated the troops of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, and Teramo became a French possession until 1815, when it reverted to the Kingdom of Naples. I think that is how scrippelles were created – a combination of French crepes and Italian pasta. In our family we pronounced them ‘scimpelles.’ One vital point is – don’t try to use ‘better’ cheese – stick with peccorino.
Thanks for the backstory, Armen. Fascinating!
This was my favorite dish growing up! My mother’s parents were from Teramo. She used only water, never milk, and filled them with grated Pecorino Romano (specifically Locatelli brand) and black pepper. She never added parsley or nutmeg but it sounds delicious that way so I will try it! She had told me (or maybe I had read it) that the original broth was made from prosciutto (boar) bones. Do you know if that’s true?
I don’t actually know, but it sounds delicious. And it makes sense they would use what they had on hand. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Carolyn!
Looks delicious, going to make but have a question about the broth, is it a homemade soup or just straight broth? Thanks!
Thanks Frank, going to make the scrippelle this week with that delicious looking broth!
I have to confess that I am a horrible, horrible crepe maker! But these sound so delicious, that I feel I should give it another go.
I’m sure you’re a lot better than you give yourself credit for, Jeff. But anyway it’s definitely worth another go.
I’ve never had crepes in broth! Terrific idea — I want to try this, and soon. Thanks!
It’s a winner, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Coincidentally, your post came out the same day I had made crêpes filled with mushrooms and cheese… had I seen this in advance, I would have certainly changed my menu. A simple and elegant dish, to be sure. And your be Deruta plates make it all the more so.
You’re right. Everything looks tastier on a Deruta plate… 😉
ho sempre fatto la variante chiamata !Celestine in brodo” dove le crespelle vengono tagliate a striscioline, la prossima volta provo la tua !
Quella variante mi suona una bontà assoluta. 😋
Lovely recipe, easy to make and healthy to eat. I often make crespelle but I have never had it with broth. I will try it! Thanks for sharing! Paola
I bet you’ll like it, Paola!
My grandmother combined milk and water while making scrippelle and, before serving, she rolled them and cut to 1/3 inch wide tagliatelle and added to beef or chicken soup from scratch. Heaven ! Thank you for the reminder Frank.
You’re welcome! And thanks for stopping by.
I’ve never eaten these, but have seen them from Domenica Marchetti and on the menu of my favorite restaurant in Philly, Le Virtù. My late husband’s relatives in Abruzzo used to serve a similar style soup, but with a thicker crèpe, one that was more like a frittata. Yours looks particularly inviting, especially in that beautiful bowl.
You know, I’m planning to get up to Philly to visit Le virtù very soon. It’s been on my ‘bucket list’ for some time now, thanks to you and Domenica. I just hope it hasn’t gotten too terribly crowded since it was featured on TV…
I saw these amazing crepes on Instagram, and I’ve been looking forward to popping over here to learn more about them. What an interesting recipe! As I was reading this post, I couldn’t help but think about how so many Italian recipes are really quite simple. (And as you note, Italian – more so than other cuisines – requires finer quality ingredients.) I’ve never had scrippelle, and the idea of serving crepes over broth is intriguing. I definitely wouldn’t mind sitting down to a plate of this on these cold winter days!
Thanks, David! I do highly recommend these crepes for a cold winter’s night!
This looks so special! It seems like presentations of protein, like fish, in broth, have become more popular lately, in my opinion and experience. But obviously this is an old recipe, and one I would really love. Such a delicacy.
Thanks, Mimi! This really is a delicacy, in the truest sense of the word.
I have had the pleasure of having this dish while vacationing in Marina di Vasto (Chieti) a couple of summers ago. It was truly delicious. Now that I have the recipe I will try it at home and invite my Abbruzzese friends. Thanks for reminding me of how much I love this region, its people and its food.
And thank you for your comments, John! I do hope you and your friends will enjoy them. It is a remarkable region, rather unappreciated by most foreign tourists—which may actually be a good thing!
How unusual! This reminds me of a similar soup I at in Switzerland which contained shredded pancakes. It was lovely but I think I prefer these Italian flavours.
I think I know that soup, or something like it, from Vienna, where they make call it Frittatensuppe. I believe it’s called Flädlessuppe is Germany. Very nice, too, but yes, I like this even better. 🙂
A totally new combination on the theme for me also! One to be made soonest. And for me parsley and nutmeg definitely would not be optional 🙂 ! Yes, it is very simple . . . but every ingredient has to be perfect for it to work. May I compliment you on your plating – the choice of that beautiful crockery does draw one’s attention . . .
Why thank you, Eha! Yes, the plates are some of my favorites. The pattern is called “Raffaelesco” if you want to look for them.
I love this! Especially since this is the way we say “wet” in our dialect! Sounds lovely, must try!
That’s interesting. If I remember correctly, your folks are from Lazio, so not too far from Abruzzo? Makes sense they might have some similar words. Anyway, I do think you’ll like this if you try it.
This recipe combine two of my ultimate favourite things: soup and crepes! Fortunately, I just purchased a crepe pan for my cousin’s flat in Spain, so this dish will definitely make an appearance. Hungarian crepes are very thin too, my grand ma used to say that if you can’t read a newspaper through them, they are too thick.
Well it sounds like this is your kind of dish, Eva! Hope you enjoy it! And for my part, I’m curious now to try out Hungarian crepes…
I will definitely try this. I have been using crespelle for my manicotti for the past few years. Much lighter than traditional manicotti shells. So light that I eat way too many!! I enjoy your blog very much and really like the way you incorporate the old dialect. Thanks for the authentic recipes.
Ha! Light foods can be tricky like that… It’s a bit like going to a discount store, lured in by the lower prices, and then spending more than you would normally!
A lovely sounding dish and one I’ve not experienced. Interestingly, your crepe recipe is very similar to our Swedish pancake which we use for both savory and sweet dishes. I like the idea of serving the crepe with the broth as a soup, but I also like the idea of treating them as a cannelloni. You gave me some great inspiration here.
Thanks, Ron! Look forward to seeing where you go with that inspiration!