Sunday, January 30, 2011

CCC: Italian Stracciatella

It's been almost two years since I last participated in a Cooking Club Challenge.  I figured with the New Year I'd start to get into it again, I love the community over at, they've given me pic of the week twice in the last few months and I felt that taking part in the challenge was another way to participate and support it.  It didn't hurt that January's recipe was a delicious sounding Italian soup, I mean we all know how much I love Italian food.  Stracciatella comes from the Italian word stracciato which means "torn apart."  The name references the eggs, which have been torn apart in the soup.  Nadia G also had us add some mini meatballs and tortellini to the soup.

As it's often difficult for me to follow a recipe exactly below is how I did it.  Nadia recommended making her liquid gold, but I had some of my own personal chicken stock made so I went with that.  For my standard chicken stock I use the carcass from a 5 lb roaster, two celery stalks, two onions, two carrots, a tsp whole black peppercorns, 3 whole cloves, 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 bay leaves.  I cover the whole thing with water bring to a boil then cover to simmer for about 5 hours.  Strain the stock a few times and then reduce down to 3/4 to 2/3.  You can either freeze it in 1 cup measures or in ice cub trays or use immediately.  Those are the veggies I generally have on hand but I'll also throw in some fennel or parsnips if I have them when I make stock.

I also decided to double the base recipe to make enough to have for at least one dinner and few lunches.  It was perfect for our day off lunch on Friday and even better after a long day at work on Saturday.

Italian Stracciatella with Mini Meatballs, Cheese Tortellini and Baby Spinach
adapted from Nadia G
serves 8

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
3 Tbsps or more Italian bread crumbs
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsps fresh oregano
2 large cloves garlic
fresh cracked pepper

1 lb meatballs
12 cups chicken stock
3 dozen fresh mini tortellini
1 parmigiano reggiano rind
baby spinach
3 eggs
healthy pinch sea salt
fresh cracked pepper

1.  Place chicken stock in a large pot and bring to a simmer.  While the stock is heating up gently mix together all of the meatball ingredients.  I used 10 turns of my peppermill, but you can add it to your own personal taste.  Be mindful not to over work the meat, if it feels too wet add more breadcrumbs as needed.  Bring your bowl of meatball mixture next to the stove and make mini meatballs, dropping each finished meatball into the simmering stock.
2.  Cut the parmigiano rind into 3 or 4 pieces and add to the soup.  Let the meatballs and stock simmer for 10-15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Add in the tortellini and let cook for 3-5 minutes until they start to float to the surface and are cooked through.
3.  Beat together eggs and sea salt.  Slowly stream the eggs into the soup, while whisking the broth with a fork, to make the stracciatella
4.  Place a good handful of baby spinach in a soup bowl and ladle the hot soup over top.  Garish with fresh grated parmgiano and fresh cracked black pepper

Being the nerdy over achiever that I am I took a cue from Mama Shack and had to make my own fresh tortellini.  While I should have gone the easy route and used wonton skins like she did, I decided I'd rather make the pasta fresh.  I'm finally getting into a groove with fresh pasta and love using the pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer to get gorgeously thin sheets of pasta so easily.  Once I got into a zone with cutting, filling and folding the tortellini it was actually quite simple.

This soup was hearty and filling, perfect for a cold winter day.  On the next go I might garnish with ab bit of red pepper flake or put some in the meat for a bit more spice, but other than that is was great! Too bad I'm not allowed to repeat any dinner recipes or I'd make this one again.  Definitely going in the file for next year!

Don't forget to check out how everyone else's soup turned out over at Food Network Canada

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