One of my mother’s everyday basics was what we called chicken and egg soup – an Italian version of the familiar comfort food (otherwise known as Jewish penicillen), home made chicken noodle soup.
What you do is take some good home made chicken broth and heat it up. When it is just simmering, whisk in an egg beaten separately with a bit of the cool broth and some grated parmesan. Cook very briefly, then pour it in a bowl and sprinkle with more freshly grated parmesan – heaven!
I discovered an official recipe in my treasured copy of one of my mother’s much used and spattered cookbooks – an English language translation of the best selling Italian classic ”Il Talismano” – “ The Talisman Italian Cook Book", by Ada Boni, translated by Mathide Pei and published by Crown Publishers, Inc in a special 1950 edition sponsored by Ronzoni Macaroni Co. Inc. ronzoni.newworldpasta.com
Chicken Soup With Eggs or Stracciatella Soup
1 quart beef or chicken broth or bouillon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons semolina
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Combine eggs, salt, semolina, cheese an 3 tablespoons cool broth in mixing bowl and beat with a fork 5 minutes. Bring rest of broth to boiling point and add egg mixture slowly, stirring constantly. Continue stirring while soup simmers 5 minutes. Serves 4.
AND A GREEK VERSION
One of my mother’s dearest friends, Toni, short for Antonia (more on Toni’s wonderful cooking separately), introduced us to her Greek family’s version of chicken soup with egg – basically the same, except rice is cooked in the broth and the eggs are beaten with lemon juice before adding the hot but no longer boiling soup, off the stove, whisked in frantically so that you end up with an absolutely delicious, delicate foam of egg and lemon and chicken broth all together. An absolute treat, if a tiny bit more trouble to make.
Toni (who I often called my second mother) gave me two much treasured Greek cook books, each with slightly different recipes for this classic soup.
Egg-lemon soup/ Soupa Avgolemono
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup rice
4 eggs, separated, juice of two lemons
lemon slices for garnish
Bring chicken broth to a boil, salt to taste, add rice and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, then remove from fire. In a bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; add yokes and beat well; slowly add lemon juice to the eggs, beating continuously; then add 2 cups of the hot chicken broth and do not stop beating! (The constant beating is the secret to prevent curdling of this delicate soup.) When the eggs and broth are well mixed, pour this mixture back into the remaining broth and rice. Stir well over heat BUT DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL! Serve at once in bowls, garnished with thinly slices lemons.
"Greek Cooking for the Gods" by Eva Zane, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Cooking-Gods-Edition-Productions/dp/1564265013
The second cookbook starts with making the basic chicken soup. Once the broth is ready, it continues:
Add 1 cup rice, fide or krithraki and salt to taste. After pasta (note: or rice) is cooked, add avgolemono sauce. Important: remove broth from flame and allow boiling to stop before adding sauce.
Avgolemono Sauce – Method I
Beat 4 eggs well, add juice of 2 lemons. Add hot broth slowly, beating constantly until temperatures are the same. Add sauce slowly to remaining broth, and stir furiously until thickened.
Avgolemono Sauce – Method II
Separate 4 eggs and beat egg whites until they form soft points. Add yokes one at a time and continue beating. Gradually add lemon juice (2 lemons) beating constantly. Add chicken broth slowly to sauce and continue as above.
"The Grecian Gourmet" by the Women of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church Hempstead, Long Island, New York