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stracciatella con bietola
Stracciatella con Bietola (with Swiss chard, eggs and chicken broth)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise
Occasion: Weddings, special times
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

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For cooking Swiss chard*
A large pot of water to cook Swiss chard
A tablespoon of salt

For the stracciatella
8 cups chicken broth
4 large eggs
1 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned and cooked

For garnish
1/2 cup Pecorino cheese, grated

*In North America a variety of chard greens are available; Swiss chard comes closes to the one that was originally grown in Molise.


o Make chicken broth.

o Discard parts of Swiss chard that are not fresh; wash the remainder under running water.

o Cut the Swiss chard into pieces (about 4 inches long).

o Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt.

o Place the Swiss chard in the water and cook until it is ready (about 10 minutes).

o Drain the Swiss chard. Set aside.

o Bring the chicken broth to boil.

o Add the beaten eggs, stirring constantly until the eggs are cooked.

o Add the cooked Swiss chard and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

o Garnish the individual bowls of soup with Pecorino cheese (optional).

o Serve warm.


My mother tells me that in the 1930s, when she was growing up in the town of Casacalenda, "stracciatella" was only made for weddings. Apparently, if the egg-based soup did not contain Swiss chard ("bietola" in Italian, and "lieta" in dialect) it was not called "stracciatella," it was simply known as chicken soup with beaten eggs. While "stracciatella" with Swiss chard was made for weddings, the one made only with beaten eggs was reserved for funerals. However, this information is hard to verify, as my mother is the first to admit that her own mother, my Nonna Seppe, never made "stracciatella." The soup called for too many eggs, making it far too expensive for my nonna's meager budget. Nonetheless, in the late 1950s, as soon as my mother immigrated to Canada, my mother did make "stracciatella." Back then my mother (as well as my aunts and everyone I know) only made soups (including "stracciatella") for very special occasions such as Christmas and Easter. Honestly speaking, I don't recall ever eating "stracciatella" with Swiss chard at any wedding banquet I attended. If an Italian banquet hall did serve stracciatella it was generally served without greenery of any kind. Obviously, the Northern Italian style of doing the "stracciatella" recipe was more popular with the local chefs than the Southern Italian style one. In any case, I was surprised to learn that "stracciatella with Swiss chard," was a favorite wedding soup in the 1930s. The soup is a wee bit ordinary to my taste, but then, I suppose, if one only had eggs in one's soup once in a blue moon then, of course, the soup couldn't but be a treat. P.S. Apparently, in the 1930s, spinach did not grow well in the region of Molise, but chard, "bietola" (in dialect, "lieta") did. So most Molisani dishes included "bietola" rather than spinach.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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