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X Italian Soups
Chicken Broth
Brodo di Pollo ( Chicken Soup)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Special times
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

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For chicken broth

4 to 6 quarts water
1 chicken
1 turkey breast
Beef bones with some meat on them
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 whole onion [optional]
4 celery sticks with leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano [optional]
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped [optional]
2 chicken cubes [optional]
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper


Clean chicken, and cut into pieces.

Boil a large pot of water.

Add chicken, turkey and beef bones.

Add vegetables and seasonings.

Cook for one and half hours or a bit longer.

Strain broth and reserve the meat for other dishes, or alternatively, remove the meat from the chicken and beef bones and then cut it up in long strips and serve it along with the broth.


Prior to World War II "brodo di pollo" was considered a special delicacy in the Molisan countryside. It was generally reserved for major life events -- birth or death, meaning, it was generally served to a woman who had just given birth, or to someone who was very ill in the hopes of making him well. "Brodo di pollo" was thought to have medicinal benefits. And strangely enough, or not so strangely, modern science has found that "chicken soup" really does have anti-bacterial properties, so the old folks down in the old country did know a thing or two about preventive medicine. Generally speaking if a cook served chicken soup, it was The main meal. Sometimes "brodo di pollo" was served as a first course, but of course, this was only done if there were a wedding or a baptism. Prior to World War II chickens were generally raised for their eggs, rather than their meat. Few farmers could afford to slaughter their chickens as they needed their eggs. The poorer farmers bartered their eggs for other essentials, and the rich ones used them in a variety of dishes, including cakes and cookies. "Brodo di pollo" takes a great deal of time to do -- but it's worth the effort. My mother always makes this broth as a base when she makes her various soups or "lasagna con brodo." However, I only make this broth if I am having guests. To make Northern-style vegetable cream soups I find that store-bought chicken cubes are good enough. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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