When most people think of an Italian egg drop soup they think of the classic stracciatella, which is basically a flavorful broth stock fortified with a mixture of eggs and Parmesan whipped into the soup while boiling hot. Presto, instant deliciousness! Sciusceddu is the Sicilian pumped-up version of this dish.
This soup has the wonderful addition of tiny meatballs, ricotta, and caciocavallo cheese, along with the eggs. You will enjoy an egg drop soup unlike any other. In some recipes, you pipe the ricotta mixture over the soup and then bake it until the top is golden brown. I personally like to add the ricotta to the egg, then whisk it into the broth. The soup has a nicer appearance this way, and it still tastes great. Plus those little tiny meatballs can now smile up at you and make you happy since they're not covered!
Another great attribute to this soup is that it's hearty enough for winter months and lends itself nicely to those early weeks of spring when the temperature is still a bit nippy. It can stand on its own as a quick lunch with some fresh Italian bread. One thing for sure it will warm you up quickly and nourish you well. My (Calabrese) side of the family made a soup like this quite often, it had all the components of a sciusceddu without the ricotta and Parmesan was often substituted for the caciocavallo cheese. It was a soup that I grew up on and nowadays I like to make whenever I get the chance.
So, a nice opportunity arose last month and I took full sciusceddu advantage of it. I made this soup as one of the courses at my guest chef event with the Åland Island Hotel Group for their flagship Kvarter5 Restaurant. The event took place this past March while the weather was still quite cold. My sciusceddu soup proved to be pleasant surprise for the dinner guests and was even a big hit with the other chefs. Give it a try with and without the meatballs. Sometimes I leave out the meatballs and simply stir in some fresh spinach leaves for a different twist; you can get a little creative on your own. Either way, this soup is a true crowd pleaser every time!
Sicilian Sciusceddu: Italian Egg Drop Soup
6 cups meat broth (you can substitute chicken or vegetable broth)
8 oz veal meat, minced
2-3 oz plain bread crumbs
4 oz caciocavallo cheese (you can substitute with Parmesan or pecorino cheese)
4 oz ricotta cheese
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Preparation: Veal Meat Balls
Moisten the bread crumbs ever so slightly in a bowl with a little milk or water, just enough to the point where they are damp but not so wet that they will not hold shape when you squeeze it in your hand. Then add the minced meat, one egg, half of the grated caciocavallo cheese, and chopped parsley. Season with a little salt and pepper. Be careful with the salt since the cheese is already salty. Now, combine this meat mixture well. Heat a frying pan with a little olive oil and cook about a teaspoonful of the meatball mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary with more salt, pepper or cheese.
Roll out teaspoon-sized meatballs. Place all on a tray, cover and leave in your refrigerator while you make the broth.
Tip: Do not roll the meatballs very tight. A lightly rolled meatball, not densely packed together, creates a softer and more palatable end result.
In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, remaining eggs and the rest of the caciocavallo cheese. Season to taste and set aside.
Bring your broth to a boil, skim off any foam that might rise to the top. Add the meatballs to the broth and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook covered for about 20 minutes or until the meatballs are fully cooked.
Remove the meatballs from the pot and cover with a little of the broth and reserve in a warm place. It is easier to make the egg drop soup by removing the meatballs and also there is no chance of breaking them. Bring the broth to a boil, then add the egg and ricotta mixture. Whisk vigorously until all the egg has cooked and the soup has thickened. This should take 2-3 minutes. Add the meatballs and let boil a few more minutes.
Serve your sciusceddu very hot and top with a little more the caciocavallo cheese (or the cheese you prefer), some chopped flat leaf parsley and a little fresh cracked black pepper. This soup is absolutely delizioso!
Get more delicious recipes from Franco at: www.francolania.com