Note: You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing fruits and vegetables.
My friend Olivia is one of those effortlessly superior human specimens, the kind you'd hate if she didn't carry it off with such impeccable grace. In the midst of late-1990s materialist New York City, she singlehandedly popularized folk music among our friends by humming it quietly to herself. When I splurged on a pair of sunglasses that I later realized gave me the distinct aspect of an angry rodent, she left me money for them on the counter and went on to popularize those, too. People in crisis spend a night out dancing with Olivia and come home peaceful, if a little worse for wear. She comforts and inspires with her mere unassuming presence, an old soul in cute modern clothes.
Stracciatella soup with spinach is like that, too. Many ancient cultures have a version of egg drop soup, used for centuries to fortify tired souls at minimal cost. Stracciatella, named for the little shreds of egg it contains, is the Roman incarnation. Baby spinach adds a modern and healthful twist and makes stracciatella a complete light meal with a piece of crusty whole-grain bread. It's a welcome addition to our holiday-season downtime menu.
I've been craving baby spinach recently, so let's just say I bought mine from a local greenhouse, OK? If your conscience steers you toward more wintery greens, escarole would make a lovely substitution. Just give it a few extra minutes' cooking time before swirling in the eggs.
Stracciatella Soup with Spinach
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely ground semolina*
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Pinch nutmeg
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 4 cups baby spinach
In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring the chicken stock (along with 1/2 teaspoon salt, if unsalted) to a gentle boil.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the eggs, semolina, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg and pepper. Whisk with a fork to combine well.
When the stock boils, add the spinach and cook until just beginning to wilt, about 30 seconds. Begin swirling the stock and spinach with a fork, then pour in the egg mixture in a slow stream. Continue swirling until the eggs have set into thin little shreds, and the semolina and cheese have fortified the broth, about 3 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.