Friday, August 31, 2012

Stracciatella Soup with Spinach, Chicken & Rice

This hearty Stracciatella-style soup is more substantial than the traditional Italian egg drop soup, with the addition of chicken, leeks, spinach and rice. I've also made this soup with tiny chicken meatballs and orzo, which is completely addictive. The perfect antidote to a cool Autumn day, this robust and delicious soup is a wonderful meal on its own with a loaf of warm crusty bread and simple green salad.

Stracciatella Soup with Spinach, Chicken & Rice
Makes 8 cups

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large bone-in chicken breasts, with skin removed
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, both white and light green parts
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup cooked fresh spinach
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 1/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup raw long grain rice or orzo
2 large eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Sprinkle chicken breasts with a pinch of salt and ground pepper. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the chicken, breast side down, and sautĂ© until browned, about five minutes. 
Turn the chicken over and brown the other side, about another three minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate, leaving the oil in the pot.

Add the chopped leeks, parsley, thawed spinach and nutmeg and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes. Pour in 6 cups of the chicken stock, reserving the last 1/4 cup for the eggs, and add the rice. Return the chicken to the pot, cover and let the soup simmer gently for 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, add two eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock and parmesan, in a small bowl and beat until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and set aside.

After 25 minutes, remove the chicken breasts from the soup. Using two forks, pull the meat off the bone. Discard the bones and tear the chicken meat into bite sized pieces and add to the soup. Then pour the beaten egg mixture into the soup, and whisk vigorously. Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer, whisking occasionally for five minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the soup begins to look curdled, that’s how it’s supposed to look as the eggs cook.

Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with grated parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.