La Deliziosa Vita

Warm up with hearty soups

Perfect for a cold winter’s night
Stracciatella soup with tortellini, meatballs, and spinach. Photo: Susan Dyer Reynolds

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 soup. It’s an easy recipe, 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 (available at, but roll them smaller, or use your own favorite meatball recipe. You can make stracciatella vegetarian by leaving out the meatballs and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. 

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 stock for vegetable stock. 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 stock is low sodium.

Stracciatella (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

Serves 4–6

6 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup meatballs, rolled the size of a large marble (optional)

1 package Three Bridges Organic Cheese Tortellini (optional)

1 cup kale or baby spinach (optional; see below)

2 large eggs (preferably pastured)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Bring broth to a simmer in an 8-quart pot or Dutch oven. Add salt and pepper. Add the meatballs, tortellini, 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 the heat off the stock, and use one hand to stir stock in a figure eight 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

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cups Spanish (yellow) onions (about three medium onions), thinly sliced

¼ cup sherry or sweet port

6 cups beef or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 cups plain croutons or thin slices of toasted baguette (divided)

3 cups Gruyère cheese (divided)

2 tablespoons fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, finely minced

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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