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Snapshots from Italy: Roman Easter Soup

Eggs are essential ingredients in Italian Easter celebrations, playing a role that extends beyond the huge, elaborately decorated chocolate eggs that decorate every shop window in the weeks before the holiday.

Eggs were a symbol of new birth and renewal for many of the ancient civilizations predating the Christian era, when they were adopted as a representation of the resurrection of Christ. They evolved as part of the traditional Easter feast partly because they were one of the foods originally forbidden to have during Lent. These traditions are still intact today, ingrained in the mind, heart, and stomach; each region of Italy has its own special recipes for consuming eggs on Easter.

Romans are likely to enjoy a light first course of Brodetto Pasquale at their Easter table, the local version of a soup that features eggs as well as lamb, another iconic Easter food.

The rich, meaty broth is enriched with egg yolks and enlivened with fresh herbs and a bit of lemon juice. I love this soup; none of the ingredients are fussy or difficult to find, and they each make a worthy contribution to the final balance of flavors. The subtle sweetness of cloves tames the gamier aspects of the lamb, the lemon balances the egg and cheese, and the marjoram provides a delightfully perfect exclamation point.

Once my butcher understood what I was making, he was careful to give me lean cuts of meat, cautioning me that fat, and especially lamb fat, makes for a muddy, greasy broth. Timing is the only tricky element here; make sure your temperatures are correct, your soup bowls are warm, and your bread rounds are toasted and in place. Call everyone to the table just before you start whisking, and serve it up while it is still hot. Pass the cheese, please. Buona Pasqua, e buon appetito!

About the author: Gina DePalma is the pastry chef at Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant in New York City and the author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. She is currently in Rome researching her next book and further exploring her passions for Italian food.

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