Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hybrid Soup ...

Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of chicken soup? It satisfies both body and soul and its a regular guest at my table. I've got a bunch of different chicken based soups that I enjoy, but my all time favorite is my recipe for Stracciatella, or Italian Egg Drop soup. I like to enhance the soup with some carrots and celery in addition to the traditional spinach. Its heaven in a bowl and will cure whatever ails you. I promise.

Seems I was in the mood to guild the lily this weekend and decided to stir things up a bit. With the husband's fondness for canned Chickarina in mind, I set out to create a healthier version of his old favorite. I began with my classic recipe, added some homemade meatballs and swapped out the pasta for some cooked barley. The results? Magnificent!

We'll begin with my recipe for the basic soup and the meatball recipe will follow.

Stracciatella Soup:
  • 1 can of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 6 cups of non-fat, low-sodium chicken broth (or stock if you have it)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 large rib of celery, cut into small dice
  • 1 or 2 small tender stalks, leaves included, from the heart of the celery, chopped*
  • half of a medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • some snipped fresh dill, to taste (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • a dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • a dash of good quality curry powder*
  • one bunch of fresh spinach, washed, stems removed and chopped
  • one large egg beaten with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • some cooked barley or whole wheat orzo
  • Some chopped fresh parsley and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Combine the vegetable and chicken broths in a large soup or stock pot. Add the carrots, celery, celery leaves, onion, garlic, parsley and dill (if using) to the broth. Season with a bit of salt, pepper, nutmeg and curry powder and bring the soup to the boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and prep the spinach and cook your barley or pasta. After the soup has simmered for the required time, add spinach to the broth, stirring well to combine and raise the heat to medium high. When the soup just begins to bubble gently, add the beaten egg by drizzling it into the broth in a gentle, circular motion. Allow the egg to cook undisturbed for approximately one minute, then stir. The egg will form lovely, delicate strands which run throughout the soup.

To serve: place some cooked barley or whole wheat orzo in the bottom of a large bowl and ladle the finished soup over it, garnishing with the chopped parsley and a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

This is my go-to chicken soup recipe and I swear it has magical healing powers - just ask Mama Diva! Don't be fooled by the list of ingredients - this comes together in a hurry and can be prepared in half an hour. It can be served and enjoyed as written above, or you can do as I did on Sunday and add some:

Mini Chicken Meatballs:
  • 1 pound of ground chicken breast
  • 1 small onion, peeled and grated
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. of grated Parmesan cheese
  • a dash of Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • a generous grating of fresh nutmeg
  • some snipped fresh dill
  • 1/3 of a cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • one egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp. of bread crumbs
Place a 4 sided box grater into a large mixing bowl and grate the onion directly into the bowl. Hint - be careful! Try to avoid grating your thumb into the bowl along with the onion. To the grated onion add the ground chicken and the rest of the ingredients, stirring well with a fork to combine.

If using the meatballs, add them to the soup before you add the spinach. Let the soup simmer for the required time, then bring to a gentle boil. Shape the chicken mixture in to smallish, 1 inch meatballs and add to the soup. Allow them to simmer undisturbed until cooked, approximately 5 minutes or so, they will float to the surface when they are cooked. Then proceed with the spinach and cheese additions as described above.

As written this recipe will likely yield approximately 30 meatballs ... which is way too many for one pot of soup. I added half the meatballs to my soup and simmered the rest in some unadorned chicken broth ... I'll freeze the cooked beauties for future use - and you may choose to do likewise.

You can't go wrong either way. The Stracciatella soup is delicious on its own, and its outrageously good with the addition of the meatballs. Sort of a hybrid Italian Wedding/Egg Drop/Chickarina, if you will. Its truly a meal in a bowl. The husband devoured his and I know the left-overs won't be around long. As written, this soup will serve four. I hope you'll try it!

One quick note about the celery leaves ... that's an old trick from my grandma Pam. She never made chicken soup without adding the celery leaves and neither do I. As for the curry powder, that's my own personal quirk ... it bumps up the chicken flavor. Use just a dash and the results will be luscious and savory.

So, what's your favorite kind of soup? Hungry Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!


Dr Zibbs said...

Another Yum.

cheryl said...

I loved chickarina soup as a kid! My dad used to give it to my brother and me when we'd go to his apartment after he and my mom split up. (Chickarina soup, followed by canned creamed corn and skirt steak - the divorced dad's special).

Yours looks wholesome.


Mmm... and I've just had my dinner too! What a pig I am lol!! Looks delish like all your recipes love!

So 2 points: The first is that I've done the top tips for 2009 - ages ago. Look in the archives though, it's clearly marked, as are the lists for the 10 best singles of 2008 (imo lol!)

Secondly: it would probably be fun if you interviewed me! You can leave the questions as a comment on my blog, I'll write them down and then respond (cos I've got moderation, so no one'll see em before I respond!)
Ciao ciao

Scarlet xoxo

The Diva on a Diet said...

Thanks again, Dr Zibbs!

Cheryl - you're a Chickarina girl too?! Wonders never cease. Canned creamed corn was a childhood fave of mine ... not sure I could abide it now though. LOL I think this version is pretty wholesome and is sure was satisfying.

Scarlet - You made me chuckle ... fear not, I'm not going to tag you with the 2009 wishes meme! ;) Sure, I'll interview you. It will be my pleasure! I need a couple of days though as the next two will by busy for me. I'll put the questions in your comments on Friday. Deal? xoxoxo

words words words said...

YUM. That looks delicious. My favorite soup is Italian wedding soup, which is actually quite similar except that the meatballs are beef and there is tiny pasta instead of egg drop. I also love albondigas, which is a Mexican soup that is a spicy tomato broth with meatballs. Mmmmm. My favorite to make, just because it's easy, is chicken tortellini.

Deb said...

Ah soup - one of my favorite meals. I think if pressed to name a favorite it would be my grandma's chicken soup which had these amazing tasting potatoes in it that I have never been able to duplicate or lentil soup which I can create easily and doesn't have to compete with Grandma's.


Dana McCauley said...

your soup sounds fab!

Juliet said...

Looks absolutely divine! I love soup -- tomato soup is my favorite!! :) Also, carrot!! We are actually working on a low calorie broccoli soup recipe right now.

RecipeGirl said...

Looks delicious- I've been trying to cook up more soup lately. More bang for fewer calories!

Veriance said...

that looks warm, nourishing and delicious! everything a soup should be!

The Diva on a Diet said...

words words words - I'm much intrigued by the sound of that albondigas soup. Yummy! Will have to google it ... or do you have a recipe you'd like to share?

Deb - nothing ever really tastes as good as grandma's chicken soup, huh? I'm with you on the lentils too. Delicious and hearty.

Thanks, Dana!

Juliet - I adore both tomato and carrot soups too! And I'll be on the lookout for your low-cal broccoli soup ... you'll post the recipe, right? :)

Recipe Girl - Welcome and thanks! I agree soups are certainly economical and such a satisfying meal too.

Veri - you're right, it was! Thanks you too! :)

Jo said...

My favorite kind of soup is very similar to a chicken noodle except I used elbow macaroni and milk! It's called Soupas in the Philippines, but "soupas" can be used for any soup. My mom makes it and it reminds me of times as a child.

pixelgal said...

I will absolutely vouch for the healing powers of Italian wedding soup. It has worked for me on many occasions. And so delicious. Try it you'll love it!

Anonymous said...

Chicken meatballs...mmmmmm. What an awesome soup. This is good eats.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Jo - that sounds really interesting. I love Philipino food! Is the recipe on your blog?

Thanks pixelgal and DuoDishes! :)

Debinhawaii said...

I did a similar soup with turkey meatballs and barley and loved it. This one looks delicious. Thanks for sending it along to Souper Sunday!