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Chicken Broth with Beaten Egg
Poor Man's Funeral Food -- Chicken Broth with Beaten Eggs
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise
Occasion: Funerals
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

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Chicken Broth
Eggs, beaten
Pecorino cheese, grated (optional)
Parsley, chopped (optional)
Pastina (optional)


o Make home-made chicken broth (For recipe see "Brodo di Pollo")

o Cook Pastina ("little" pasta) in a large pot of boiling water. Drain.

o Strain chicken broth.

o Discard everything used to make chicken broth.

o Beat eggs.

o Add the beaten eggs to the chicken broth and cook until the eggs are ready.

o Place the chicken broth in individual bowls. Add about 1/8 cup cooked pastina in each bowl.

o Garnish with grated cheese and chopped parsley.


As noted in the previous entry prior to World War II it was the custom in Molise to prepare chicken soup on the day of a funeral. Generally, the soup was prepared by close relatives of the bereaved family. However, as chicken meat was relatively expensive at that time, not everyone could afford to make it and offer it to their loved ones. According to my mother those who could not afford to make chicken broth with flaked chicken breast meat (considered the best part of the chicken), added beaten egg to the broth rather than meat from some other part of the chicken (see Version II). Using meat from the thigh or leg of the chicken would have been O.K. to make the broth, but it would not have been O.K. to serve it, as that meat, which was not as tasty as breast meat (and not as easily flaked) would have been seen as disrespectful. At that time eggs had more status than dark chicken meat. Nonetheless (again according to my mother) the poorest of the poor (especially those relatives that were not next of kin) would offer the bereaved any food they had on hand -- including "pasta e fagiole" (any food was better than none). It was assumed that the family that experienced a death of a loved one should be given food for obvious reasons -- firstly, because they understood that if a family had to take care of a funeral they would not have the time or energy to cook, and secondly, it was a way to show their love and support in a time of sorrow.... P.S. Chicken broth with beaten egg was not referred to at that time as "straticella" -- Italy's most famous egg-based soup. Apparently, in Casacalenda, Molise the recipe name "straticella" was reserved for chicken broth that was mixed with both beaten egg and Swiss chard (See recipe, "Straticella alla Molisan"). That version of the soup (according to my mother) was generally served at weddings.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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