Tag Archives: Italian Cooking

Two oval, white bowls of Chicken Soup, one with Chicken Egg Drop Soup and the other with Pastina Soup on a colorful tablecloth with fall pumpkin theeme

Italian Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Italian Chicken Broth: Egg Drop Soup or Pastina Stars

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian chicken broth with wispy strands of  eggs is called “Egg Drop Soup” at my family’s home but is known better as Stracciatella, or “Rags Soup.” For the perfect children’s chicken soup, instead add tiny pastas called pastina stars to your homemade chicken broth. Which is better?  Make them both and you decide!

Italian Chicken Broth: Egg Drop Soup or Pastina Stars  

When I was a child, my mother’s chicken soup was a welcome treat that accompanied the cool breezes of fall and sustained us through the cold winter months.  We children loved when she returned home from the “chicken farm” down the road with stewing chickens because we knew that her delicious chicken soup would soon follow!

Italian chicken soup starts with a hearty chicken broth, or “brodo.”  Chicken broth is simplicity to make, with just a few ingredients most home cooks have around the house.  My mother would drizzle beaten eggs into her chicken broth to make wispy yellow strands of scrambled eggs, for “Egg Drop Soup” as my family called it,  also known by its more traditional name of  “Stracciatella “ or “Rags Soup.”  And, I think every Italian adult has fond memories  of their lunches at home as a young child, especially when they discovered tiny star-shaped “pastina” pastas  in their chicken broth for “Pastina Soup!”

To make the most flavorful Italian chicken soup, start with a broth made with “stewing” chickens.  Stewing chickens are the older, tougher chickens that will soften but not loose their flavor entirely and make a nice broth after  even just 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking in liquid.  The meat of stewing chickens usually can be removed from the bones and added to the soup if desired. Younger frying or broiling chickens can also be used to make chicken broth, but in this case the cooking time should be increased to 2 or 3 hours and by this time most of the chicken’s flavor will have been given up to the soup, rendering the chicken flavorless.

Italian moms know that adding a small tomato will make the chicken broth sweeter, a small potato will add a little starch for body, and if you leave the outer leaves on the onion the broth will become a golden color.   Try my family’s simple method and I’m sure your children will agree: Italian chicken soup is the quintessential comfort food!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Chicken Broth with Egg Drop Soup or  Pastina Stars 

 

Italian Chicken Broth or “Brodo”

Ingredients
(Makes about 16-18 cups)

1 stewing chicken, 3-4 lbs., rinsed, quartered
with fat trimmed off
4 carrots,  rinsed and chopped coarsely
2 celery sticks,  rinsed and cut in half
1 onion, (skin on or off), rinsed and cut in half
1 small tomato, quartered
1 small waxy potato (not russet), yellow or red
Optional: Small bundle of fresh parsley stalks from garden
salt  to taste

Method for Italian Chicken Broth

Rinse the stewing chicken well. Ask the butcher to quarter it for you, or cut the chicken into quarters if needed. Rinse again to clean off again.

(Additional step if desired to give a clearer broth: Pre-cook the chicken briefly: Put chicken in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil slowly. Skim off the foam that comes to the top, then discard the water and continue with the rest of the method.)

Place the quartered chicken into a large soup pot. Add cold water 3/4 to the top of the pot.

Add the carrots, celery, onion, tomato and potato.

Bring to the boil and then quickly turn down heat to keep the broth cooking at a simmer.

Continue to cook the soup uncovered. Skim off any “skuzz” or “foam” that floats to the top periodically, but do not stir the broth, which will yield a cloudy soup.

When the soup has cooked  down to desired flavor — at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours, remove the chicken and the vegetables.

Taste the chicken and if it remains flavorful, remove it from the bones and reserve the meat to add to the soup if desired.  The vegetables will usually lose all their flavor and should be discarded and new, finely-chopped vegetables added to the finished soup.  (If not, the soup should probably be cooked for a little longer time, but that is of course a matter of taste!)

Strain the broth to remove any small particles that may have formed.

(Additional step that can be omitted: If you do not need the broth right away, or if on a low-fat diet, store the strained broth  in a pot in the refrigerator.  By the next  day, the fat will have floated to the top and hardened and can easily be skimmed off with a spoon.)

Add salt to the broth as desired and then finish as below and make into a soup.

 


Italian Egg Drop Soup

Ingredients
(Makes about 4 cups)

4 cups  Italian chicken broth, homemade or canned
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1/4 cup  finely grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Optional: Fresh parsley stalk and leaves from garden for garnish

 

Method for Egg Drop Soup*

Use a small bowl or large measuring cup with a spout, if possible.  Mix the eggs and Parmesan cheese together lightly.

Place the 4 cups of cold chicken broth into a pot that can hold about 6 cups.

Adjust salt as desired.

Use medium-low heat to gradually bring the broth to a boil. Watch closely as the broth comes to a boil.

When small bubbles start to appear, and the broth is almost at a simmer,  while mixing, drizzle the egg/cheese mixture into the pot slowly, allowing the eggs to cook briefly before adding more of the mixture.

When all egg has been added and partially cooked, mix lightly with a fork to keep the egg separated until the egg has completely cooked.

Watch the Instagram video below to see this method in action!

 

View this post on Instagram

Italian chicken broth “brodo” and chicken egg drop soup or chicken soup with pastina. Moms love to make it and kids love to eat it on a chilly day! Broth: 1 stewing chicken, carrots, celery, onion (peeled or not for yellow color), small potato, one tomato quartered. Egg drop soup: 4 cups chicken broth. Add salt to taste. Add slowly just before boiling: 2 eggs lightly beaten with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese. Stir until cooked through. For Pastina: Boil broth snd add Pastina Pasta. Fresh parsley from garden should still be available if desired as parsley loves the cool weather. Buon appetito! #osnap #italiansoup @niafitalianamerican @chicagolanditalians @sons_of_italy @osia_su #italianfoodblogger #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodbloggers🍷🍕🇮🇹 #chickensoup #chickensouprecipe #chickensouprecipes #brodo #italianbrodo #italianchickensoup #strattiacella #chickeneggdropsoup #eggdropsoup #pastinainbrodo #pastinasoup #pastinasoupforlunch For more #Italianrecipes visit www.Learntravelitalian.com

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 

*For an alternative method, that will yield small strands of egg mixed more completely into the soup, called Stracciatella soup,  omit the Parmesan cheese.  Mix about 1 cup of the warm broth into the lightly mixed eggs and then pour all of the egg/broth mixture into the warm broth.  Bring to a boil and watch the smaller egg strands form.

To make larger “rags,” omit the Parmesan cheese and very lightly beat the egg mixture so that some of the white remains visible.  Bring the soup to a low boil, and drizzle in the egg mixture a bit at a time while stirring gently with a fork.

When the egg is cooked through, it is ready to eat, topped with Parmesan cheese of course!


 

Italian Pastina Soup for Children

Ingredients
(Makes about 4 cups)

4 cups  Italian chicken broth, homemade or canned
1/3 cup pastina (little stars) pasta

 

Method for Pastina Soup for Children

For 4 cups of chicken broth, use 1/3 cup pastina star pasta

Place the 4 cups of cold chicken broth into a pot that can hold about 6 cups.

Cook as you would for any other pasta:

Set the chicken broth on the stove over medium high heat and heat to a rolling boil.

Add salt to taste,  cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and add pastina pasta.

Stir pasta, cover and bring to a boil again.

Take cover off and stir.

Let the pasta cook until al-dente (“to the tooth”). In this case, you will see the pasta stars grow.  When pasta has finished cooking, ladle the soup into a bowl .

Present to small children with Italian bread for a warm and satisfying lunch!

— by Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Pasta and Lentils

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian pasta and lentils — is said to bring families around the world good luck for the new year !

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck! 

Pasta with lentils or lentil soup is a New Year’s tradition in many Italian households. The  lentil dishes are said to bring to luck to the family on New Year’s Day.  I am not sure if anyone really knows exactly why lentils are supposed to be good luck.  Maybe it is because they are shaped like small coins?

Whatever the reason, pasta and lentils is a hearty and delicious winter combination. Lentils are rich in protein,  and the pasta/lentil combination was probably an important contribution to family nutrition  in the days of the “cucina povera” cooking in Italy. Flavored with a bit of pancetta (Italian peppery bacon), garlic and tomato, the lentils make a delicious sauce that coats the pasta beautifully.

I used “maltagliati” or “poorly cut” pasta for this dish,  which to me is reminiscent of its “cucina povera,” origins but also because  the lentils cling nicely to the short, flat noodles. If you cannot find maltagliati pasta, lasagna noodles broken by hand into small, irregular pieces will give a similar effect.

Buon anno 2019 a tutti!  Try my pasta and lentils dish on a wintry day for a warm and comforting meal.   -Kathyn Occhipinti


Italian Pasta and Lentils

 

Italian Lentils and Pasta
Pasta and Lentils ready to serve for Italian New Year’s Sunday dinner

Ingredients
(Serves 4)


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta (Italian bacon), diced finely
1  small carrot, chopped finely*
1 stalk of celery, chopped finely*
1 small onion, skin removed, chopped finely*
1 small clove garlic, chopped finely
1/2 cup dry Italian wine, such as Chianti
1 cup Italian lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
pinch of dried thyme or rosemary
3 cups of water
1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato puree
1 lb. maltagliati pasta or lasagna noodles, coarsely broken into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
*See below for note about how to chop soup vegetables.

 

Method

Before starting to make the lentil sauce, put a large pot of salted water to boil on a back burner.  Cover so it will come to a boil quickly and be ready when you need to cook the pasta.

 Use a large frying pan or Dutch oven to cook the lentils on the stove top.  Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, which will take about 1/4 cup or so.  Let the oil heat a bit over medium heat.

Add the chopped vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, and garlic, and saute in the garlic until they soften, about 5 minutes.

The pour in the red wine and then bring to a boil. Boil off about half of the wine.

Put the lentils to the pan.  If you want firmer lentils, you can saute them at this point.  Otherwise, add the water.  Stir. Bring back to the boil and then lower heat and simmer the lentils about 20 minutes.

When the lentils have softened a bit, remove the bay leaf. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken or vegetable broth.  Add more water if needed. Bring up to a simmer again and cook 10 – 15 minutes more, or until lentils are of desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, put the pasta into the boiling water.  Stir. Cover the pot to return to the boil Remove cover, stir again and let pasta cook, stirring occasionally.  Cook for less time than the package directions, to a very firm al dente, as the pasta will finish cooking with the lentils.

When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving some of the pasta water.

Add the pasta to the lentils.  Add the pasta water if needed.  The sauce should be fairly thick and coat the pasta nicely as you mix.

Cook over medium low heat another 5 minutes or so, until all is heated through and pasta is al dente.

Add the grated cheese and mix again to coat.

Serve steaming hot with crusty bread. Serve additional cheese and black pepper on the side to be added as desired.

New Year’s toast: Buon Anno!  Buon Appetito!

 

*How to Chop Vegetables
Carrots: Cut lengthwise to half, and then lengthwise again to get quarters. Line them up side by side and then cut crosswise from the tips to the base of the carrot to get small, even pieces that look like quarters of a circle.
Celery: Cut lengthwise through each celery stalk as many times as needed to give pieces the same thickness as the carrot pieces. (You will need more lengthwise cuts at the thicker part of the celery near the base.) Then cut crosswise from the tip to the base to get small, rectangular  pieces of celery about the same size as the carrot pieces.
 Onions: Cut lengthwise through the onion. Turn one of the halves flat side down.  Holding the onion together with one hand, cut lengthwise along the green lines through the onion, except for the root holding the onion together at the base.  Turn and cut horizontally, from the side away from the stem toward the stem.  Just before reaching the stem, flip the onion flat again and make the final cuts.  Discard the piece that contains the stem.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck