BROTH OR SOUP STOCK
To obtain good broth the meat must be put in cold water, and then allowed to boil slowly. Add to the meat some pieces of bones and "soup greens" as, for instance, celery, carrots and parsley. To give a brown color to the broth, some sugar, first browned at the fire, then diluted in cold water, may be added.
While it is not considered that the broth has much nutritive power, it is excellent to promote the digestion. Nearly all the Italian soups are made on a basis of broth.
A good recipe for substantial broth to be used for invalids is the following: Cut some beef in thin slices and place them in a large saucepan; add some salt. Pour cold water upon them, so that they are entirely covered. Cover the saucepan so that it is hermetically closed and place on the cover a receptacle containing water, which must be constantly renewed. Keep on a low fire for six hours, then on a strong [Pg 6]fire for ten minutes. Strain the liquid in cheese cloth.
The soup stock, besides being used for soups, is a necessary ingredient in hundreds of Italian dishes.
SOUP OF "CAPPELLETTI"
This Soup is called of "Cappelletti" or "little hats" on account of the shape of the "Cappelletti".
First a thin sheet of paste is made according to the following directions:
The best and most tender paste is made simply of eggs, flour and salt, water may be substituted for part of the eggs, for economy, or when a less rich paste is needed. Allow about a cup of flour to an egg. Put the flour on a bread board, make a hollow in the middle and break in the egg. Use any extra whites that are on hand. Knead it thoroughly, adding more flour if necessary, until you have a paste you can roll out. Roll it as thin as an eighth of an inch. A long rolling pin is necessary, but any stick, well scrubbed and sand papered, will serve in lieu of the long Italian rolling pin.
Cut from this sheet of paste rounds measuring about three inches in diameter. In the middle of each circle place a spoonful of filling that must be made beforehand, composed of cooked meat (chicken, pork or veal) ground very fine and seasoned with grated cheese, grated lemon peel,[Pg 7] nutmeg, allspice, salt. The ground meat is to be mixed with an equal amount of curds or cottage cheese.
When the filling is placed in the circle of paste, fold the latter over and moisten the edge of the paste with the finger dipped in water to make it stay securely closed.
These cappelletti should be cooked in chicken or beef broth until the paste is tender, and served with this broth as a soup.
This excellent and nutritious soup is a godsend for using the stale bread that must never again be thrown away. It is composed of bread crumbs and grated bread, eggs, grated cheese, nutmeg (in very small quantity) and salt, all mixed together and put in broth previously prepared, which must be warm at the moment of the immersion, but not at the boiling point. Then place it on a low fire and stir gently. Any vegetable left over may be added.
This is an excellent soup, but as it requires boiled or roast breast of chicken or turkey it is[Pg 8] well to make it only when these ingredients are handy.
Prepare a certain quantity of boiled potatoes, the mealy kind being preferred. Mash the potatoes and mix them with chicken or turkey breast well ground, grated cheese (Parmesan or Swiss), two or more yolks of eggs, salt and a small quantity of nutmeg. Pour the compound on the bread board with a quantity of flour sufficient to make a paste and roll it in little sticks as thick as the small finger. Cut the sticks in little pieces about half an inch long and put them in boiling water. Five or six minutes' cooking will be sufficient.
Any kind of vegetables may be used for this soup: carrots, celery, cabbage, turnips, onions, potatoes, spinach, the outside leaves of lettuce or greens of any variety.
Select three or four kind of vegetables, shred or chop coarsely cabbage or greens, and slice or cut in cubes the root vegetables. Put them over the fire with a small quantity of cooking oil or butter substitute, and let them fry until they have absorbed the fat. Then add broth and cook until the vegetables are very tender. Fry croutons of stale bread in oil and serve them in the soup.[Pg 9]
This is made with the white meat of chicken, which is to be ground in a meat grinder together with blanched almonds (5 or 6) for one quart of chicken stock. To the meat and almond add some bread crumbs, first soaked in milk or broth, in the proportion of about one fifth of the quantity of the meat. All these ingredients are to be rubbed to a very smooth paste and hot broth is to be added to them. If you wish the soup to be richer and have a more milky consistency, use the yolk of an egg, which should be beaten, and have a few tablespoonfuls of hot broth stirred into it before adding to the soup. Do not let the soup boil after the egg is added or it will curdle.
One slice of stale bread may be cut into cubes, fried in deep fat, and the croutons put in the soup. Send it to the table with a dish of grated cheese.
(Zuppa di fagiuoli)
One cup of dried beans, kidney, navy or lima is to be soaked over night. Then boil until tender. It is preferable to put the beans to cook in cold water with a pinch of soda. When they come to boil, pour off this water and add fresh.[Pg 10]
Chop fine ¼ onion, one clove of garlic, one sprig of parsley and one piece of celery and put them to fry in ¼ cup of oil with salt and a generous amount of pepper. When the vegetables are a delicate brown add to them two cups of the broth from the beans and 1 cup of tomatoes (canned or fresh). Let all come to a boil and pour the mixture into the kettle of beans from which some of the water has been drained, if they are very liquid. This soup may be served as it is or rubbed through a sieve before serving. Croutons or triangles of dry toast make an excellent addition.
The bean soup is made without meat or chicken broth, and it belongs consequently to that class of soup called by the Italians "Minestra di Magro" or "lean soup," to be served preferably on Friday and other days in which the Roman Catholic Church prohibits the use of meats.
(Zuppa di lenticchie)
The lentil soup is prepared in the same way as the bean soup, only substituting lentils for beans. A good combination is that of lentils and rice. The nutritive qualities of the lentils are not sufficiently known in this country, but all books on dietetics speak very highly of them.[Pg 11]
(Minestrone alla Milanese)
Cut off the rind of ½ lb. salt pork and put it into two quarts of water to boil. Cut off a small slice of the pork and beat it to a paste with two or three sprigs of parsley, a little celery and one kernel of garlic. Add this paste to the pork and water. Slice two carrots, cut the rib out of the leaves of ¼ medium sized cabbage. Add the carrots, cabbage leaves, other vegetables, seasoning and butter to the soup, and let it boil slowly for 2½ hours. The last ½ hour add one small handful of rice for each person.
When the pork is very soft, remove and slice in little ribbons and put it back.
The minestrone is equally good eaten cold.
Put on the bread board about two pounds of flour in a heap; make a hollow in the middle and put in it a piece of butter, three egg-yolks, salt and three or four tablespoonfuls of lukewarm water. Make a paste and knead it well, then let it stand for an hour, wrapped or covered with a linen cloth. Then spread the paste to a thin sheet, as thin as a ten-cent piece.[Pg 12]
Chop and grind pieces of roast or boiled chicken meat: add to it an equal part of marrow from the bones of beef and pieces of brains, three yolks, some crumbs of bread soaked in milk or broth and some grated cheese (Parmesan or Swiss). Rub through a sieve and make little balls as big as a hazel-nut, which are to be placed at equal distances (a little more than an inch) in a line over the sheet of paste.
Beat a whole egg and pass it over the paste with a brush all around the little balls. Cover these with another sheet of paste, press down the intervals between each ball, and then separate each section from the other with a knife. Moisten the edges of each section with the finger dipped in cold water, to make them stick together, and press them down with the fingers or the prongs of a fork. Then put to boil in water seasoned with salt or, better still, in broth. The ravioli are then to be served hot seasoned with cheese and butter or with brown stock or tomato sauce.
(Zuppa alla Pavese)
Cut as many thin slices of bread as are needed in order that each person may have at least two of them. These slices are then to be toasted and browned with butter. Poach two eggs for each[Pg 13] person, one on each slice of bread and place the slices on a large and deep dish (not in a soup tureen). Pour hot broth in the plate, taking care not to break the eggs, season with Parmesan or Swiss cheese, and serve.