Stracciatella is one of my favorite go-to dishes for lunch or dinner. While it's composed of just three ingredients this traditional Italian soup is nourishing, richly flavored, and comes together in under 20 minutes.
Stracciatella soup is made from a handful of pantry staples: chicken broth, eggs, Parmigiano cheese, and, sometimes, just a whisper of nutmeg. The delicate soup has been a mainstay for generations of Italian children and is equally beloved by their parents, most of whom grew up on it.
In my stracciatella soup recipe, I’ve included spinach, which makes it even more healthful, texture-rich, and flavorful, as well as a touch of lemon zest for brightness and balance.
This simple Italian soup recipe is all about the quality of your ingredients: make it when you have a high-quality, ideally homemade chicken stock on hand.
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What is Stracciatella?
Stracciatella when speaking about Italian cuisine can be confusing, because it refers to several popular Italian foods that are completely different from one another.
The word is derived from “stracci” (pronounced STRAH-chee), which means “rags” in Italian. It is used to describe the common texture of the egg, gelato, and cheese. In Italy, we have multiple dishes called stracciatella.
Stracciatella in Italian cuisine can refer to:
- Gelato: Stracciatella gelato originated in Bergamo, northern Italy, an area noted for its excellent dairy products. The base is made from milk and cream, with shards of chocolate mixed in.
- Cheese: Stracciatella cheese from Puglia (Italy’s heel) combines milky curds of newly made mozzarella with fresh cream to form a soft, spoonable cheese. Stracciatella is also what oozes out when you slice into a ball of burrata, in recipes like this Burrata with Tomato, Basil and Prosciutto
- Soup: Stracciatella soup is traditional in several regions of Italy, including Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Marche, and Abruzzo (where my family is from), but popular throughout the peninsula.
Here, we’re celebrating the beautiful stracciatella soup, a simple dish in which eggs are beaten with Parmigiano cheese and cooked in boiling chicken broth. But don’t let its simplicity fool you!
Ways to Dress Up Stracciatella
Stracciatella soup is rich and delicious, especially when made with homemade broth. The eggs and cheese form soft little curds or “rags” as they cook in the broth, thickening it and giving it substance.
You can keep it simple and make it with just the three core ingredients of eggs, cheese and stock, or dress it up a bit with a few extras. In this recipe I added spinach, lemon and a pinch of nutmeg, but really it's up to you.
To further enrich the soup, you can add:
- Spinach: I often put spinach in my stracciatella soup, as it adds nutrition, a burst of green color, and a subtle mineral flavor. You’ll need about 1 cup of wilted cooked, drained, and squeezed spinach for this recipe. You can use either fresh spinach leaves or good-quality frozen spinach here. A 10-ounce package of frozen spinach, defrosted, and thoroughly drained, and squeezed, should yield about 1 cup.
- Parsley: Chop enough to fill about 2 tablespoons and stir it in towards the end of cooking.
- Lemon zest: Just a whisper of freshly zested lemon peel will brighten stracciatella soup. I don’t always use it because—sometimes I just want just the delicate flavor of the broth to shine through—but, on a dreary winter or rainy spring day, that touch of lemon really perks up my mood.
- Freshly grated nutmeg: Another optional addition, nutmeg gives the soup a hint of warm spice. Years ago, my mom gave me a small grater for whole nutmeg pods. I’ve used it ever since and have always preferred it to the muted flavor of ground nutmeg in a jar.
You can also add a spoonful of semolina or breadcrumbs to the soup, to thicken it.
What is in Stracciatella Soup?
As with many Italian recipes, the ingredients in stracciatella are few, so they must be of good quality. Of course, the soup is best when made with homemade chicken stock or, in a pinch, use a high quality store bought chicken broth.
The three main ingredients you’ll need for Stracciatella Soup are:
- Chicken stock: Homemade stock will give you the most flavorful stracciatella. If you’re a soup lover like me, make a big batch of chicken broth and keep it stocked in your freezer. When I’m in the mood for stracciatella or Italian Wedding Soup, I only need to defrost the broth. You’ll need about 1 ½ cups broth per serving, so 6 cups if you’re serving four people.
- Eggs: You’ll want to add 1 egg per 1 ½ cups of broth to get the right consistency for this soup—fluffy, but not too thick.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese: There is no substitute for good, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Produced in the Emilia-Romagna region, Parmigiano-Reggiano is subject to strict regulations that ensure a high-quality cheese. The rich, salty, and savory flavor of good Parmigiano is what brings this soup together.
How to Make this Recipe
If you have a good chicken stock on hand, you likely don’t need to spend time planning, grocery shopping, and meal prepping for this recipe. A freezer or fridge stocked with chicken broth means you’re always a few steps away from sitting down to a delicious bowl of stracciatella! Just follow these simple steps and you’ll have dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
- Heat the chicken broth: Pour the broth into a 4-quart pot and let it gradually come to a boil over medium heat.
- Whisk the eggs with Parmigiano cheese: While the broth is heating, crack your eggs into a bowl and beat with a whisk or fork. Grate the Parmigiano on the small holes of a box grater or with a Microplane. You’ll need about 1 cup of finely zested cheese in total. Whisk ¾ cup of the cheese into the eggs, taking care to whisk out any clumps of cheese. Reserve the rest of the cheese. If you like the gentle flavor of nutmeg, grate a small dusting of it right into the eggs and cheese.
- Add the spinach and lemon zest to the boiling broth: Once your broth has come to a boil, it’s time to add the spinach. Adjust the heat so the broth is at a gentle simmer. Add 5 to 6 small handfuls of chopped fresh baby spinach (It will wilt down in the soup to about 1 cup of cooked spinach). Cook, stirring for a few minutes, until the broth is simmering again. If using lemon zest, stir it in now. If using frozen spinach, a 10 ounce package, thawed, squeezed dry and roughly chopped will do the trick. Add it at the same time you would add the fresh spinach.
- Add the eggs: Slowly tip the egg and cheese mixture into the broth. If you want small curds, gently stir the soup as you pour in the eggs. If, like me, you prefer large, fluffy curds, resist stirring for a minute or two to give the eggs a chance to set. Then gently ‘cut’ through the eggs with a spoon or fork to break them up into large curds. Stir slowly to mix the eggs and cheese with the spinach. Simmer for another minute or two, stirring once or twice, until the eggs are cooked through.
- Serve the Stracciatella soup: Ladle the soup into four bowls. Sprinkle each serving with a little of the reserved Parmigiano cheese, and serve hot.
Tips and Tricks for Making Stracciatella
As soup recipes go, this is one of the easiest. Still, there are a few easy techniques, passed down through generations in Italian kitchens, that will elevate this simple soup. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Start with good broth. I can’t stress this enough. Whether It’s homemade or commercial, use a broth with depth and genuinely good chicken flavor.
- Don’t skimp on the egg. One egg per person is generally a good ratio. I’ve seen versions that use half that amount, and the bits of egg end up floating forlornly in the broth.
- Don’t overdo it with the spinach. Spinach has a distinct flavor that can take over if you use too much. Stir in just about a cup—no more—to get the proper ratio of spinach to broth.
- Let the curds form. Pour the egg mixture in a slow stream into the simmering broth. It will float on top of the broth and become a fluffy mass. Let it set for a minute before stirring, especially if you want those big fluffy curds. Then stir slowly, just enough to break apart the floating mass into soft stracci (“rags”).
- Use warmed bowls. Stracciatella is best served hot. To preserve that heat, take a couple of minutes to warm your bowls. Either put them in a low oven for about 5 minutes, or immerse them in hot water for 5 minutes, then dry and use.
What to Serve with Stracciatella
Stracciatella can be a one-bowl meal, especially if you have added spinach to it. When I’m having stracciatella for lunch, I usually keep it simple and follow it with an apple or an orange.
In Italy, stracciatella is often served in place of pasta as a first course for Sunday dinner, followed by an entrée, such as a beef pot roast, or Roasted Whole Chicken with Italian Oven Roasted Vegetables.
If you’re serving stracciatella soup as your main event, pair it with a simple side, such as green bean salad dressed with good Italian olive oil and fresh lemon juice or Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad and some big slices of good crusty bread like Focaccia.
Other Italian Soup Recipes We Love
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- 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon finely zested lemon peel, optional
- 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg, optional
- 4 ounces (1 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 5-6 handfuls baby spinach, chopped
- Simmer the broth: In a 2-quart pot or saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth to a simmer.
- Whisk the eggs: Whisk together the eggs and ¾ cup of the Parmigiano cheese until well combined, save the remaining ¼ cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of the soup just before serving. If using nutmeg, grate in a small amount—about a pinch worth—and whisk to combine. Set aside
- Add the spinach and lemon zest to the broth: Stir the chopped spinach into the simmering chicken broth and cook until the spinach is heated through and the broth is simmering once more, about 5 minutes. Don’t be alarmed at the amount of spinach. It will wilt down to only about 1 cup in the soup. Stir in the lemon zest, if using.
- Add the eggs: Slowly pour the egg mixture into the soup. Gently stir once or twice with a wooden spoon or a fork. Simmer, uncovered, for a couple of minutes without stirring, until the eggs are fluffy and set. They will float on top of the broth in a soft mass. Gently break up the eggs into soft clumps.
- Serve: Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Serve hot.
- Make sure to use a high quality chicken broth: it’s a major flavor component of this dish.
- For large fluffy egg curds, pour them into the simmering broth, wait, allow them to set, and then stir. For smaller curds stir as you’re pouring the eggs in.
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