Home-made Chicken Broth*
6 slices of bread, without crust
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
about 1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated (optional)
about 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
*If one is using store-bought meat stock a combination of 6 chicken cubes and 2 beef cubes works well.
o Make chicken broth.
o Cut slices of Italian bread. Remove crust.
o Cut the bread into pieces -- about 1 inch by 1 inch.
o Beat eggs.
o Dip bread pieces in the beaten egg.
o Fry until golden.
o Place the chicken broth in individual bowls.
o Add pieces of fried bread to the broth.
o Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley (optional).
o Serve warm.
It seems that in the 1960s my late aunt, Zia Teresa, made this soup for her kids, and my mother picked it up. Apparently the soup did not have a name. My mother suggested the name "Zuppo con Pallotte di Pane" and so that's what I went with. I suspect this "no-name" soup is "the poor man's" version of "Zuppa di Pallotte" or "Zuppa con Pane Rustica" but I can't say for sure it is, because prior to World War II, eggs were expensive. Personally, I don't remember my mother making this soup though she says she did, so it has to be so. All I remember is that in the 1960s the only time soup was served in our household was when something really special was going on, or someone in the family was ill (Chicken soup was thought to have medicinal properties). Actually, in the 1960s most of the time that soup was on the menu was when there was an engagement or a wedding -- and then the soup was served at a banquet hall (Not at home!). Later, in the 1970s, soup was served at home when Christmas or Easter came around, but that was about it. Most North Americans assume that Italians eat four or five course meals, and maybe they do now, but as far as I remember, most immigrants in the 1960s limited their meals to one or two courses. Even for the ritual Sunday lunch, few if any Italians served soup. Perhaps this is a generalization I have no right to make, and so take it with a grain of salt. On the other hand, most of the people I know, including friends and relatives, would agree that when they were growing up in Montreal, Canada in the 1960s, soups were not a regular part of a meal -- unless of course, they were the main course (e.g. minestrone). If the soup served didn't satisfy one's hunger -- there was always plenty of bread around.... Photo: Mary Melfi.