Recipes

Hearty soups for a cold winter’s night

When winter turns cold and blustery, my thoughts turn to hot, hearty soups. One of my favorites is stracciatella, or Italian egg drop soup. The name means “torn apart” or “rags” because the egg looks like torn rags in the broth. It’s an easy soup, and it’s also good for you if you include a “super green” like kale or spinach. For the meatballs, use my grandfather’s recipe for ricotta meatballs, but roll them smaller, or use your own favorite meatball recipe. You can make stracciatella vegetarian by leaving out the meatballs and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

One of my other favorites is onion soup casserole. It’s basically French onion soup but less labor intensive because you make it in a casserole rather than in individual bowls. Like the stracciatella it can easily be made vegetarian by substituting the beef broth for vegetable broth. My mom always had a pot of homemade stock simmering away on the stove during the winter months. I make stock in large batches and freeze it in quart containers. I recommend making your own stock for both of these soups, but if you don’t have time, be sure the store-bought broth is low sodium.

STRACCIATELLA (ITALIAN EGG DROP SOUP)

Serves 4–6

6 cups chicken broth
2 large eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup kale or baby spinach (optional)
1 cup meatballs, rolled the size of a large marble (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Bring broth to a simmer in an 8-quart pot or Dutch oven. Add salt and pepper. Add the meatballs and, if you’re using, the kale. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through, and kale is slightly tender.

Meanwhile, in a small measuring cup with a spout, beat together eggs. Turn heat off stock, and use one hand to stir stock in a circular motion and the other hand to pour beaten eggs into stock in a slow, steady stream.

If you are using spinach instead of kale, place a handful in the bottom of each serving bowl, and ladle soup over it. Top each bowl with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and
serve immediately.

ONION SOUP CASSEROLE

Serves 4–6

6 cups beef broth
2 cups plain croutons or thin slices of toasted baguette
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups Spanish (yellow) onions (about three medium onions), thinly sliced
3 cups Gruyère cheese
¼ cup sherry or sweet port
2 tablespoons fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, finely minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Melt the butter in an 8-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes, or until soft and caramelized. Add the sherry or port and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

In the bottom of an ovenproof round casserole or Dutch oven (7 to 8 quart with sides a minimum of 4 inches high), arrange 1 cup of croutons or toasted baguette, and sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Add the remaining cup of croutons or baguette and top with another cup of cheese. Fill the casserole with the soup and sprinkle remaining cup of cheese on top. Place casserole on a cookie sheet lined with foil, and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and golden brown. Ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle parsley over top of each, and serve immediately.

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