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.
- 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
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
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.