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Stracciatella to the Rescue

04/26/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When I first signed up for the Week of Eating In, I thought, "Okay, great. I'm always looking for an excuse to cook more at home -- not for work, but just for dinner. This is fantastic motivation." But, as a wise person once noted, the path to Hell is paved with good intentions. When I opened my planner last weekend to sketch out my week of eating in, I was greeted by a sea of evening commitments -- none of which I could skip. Faced with a similar schedule for the week, my food52 business partner Amanda Hesser (also participating in the challenge) and I vowed that we would do our best to ignore our rumbling tummies while attending the various panels and discussions on our docket, and then eat a home-cooked meal once we got back to our apartments at night.

It all sounded so easy. And truth be told, it's probably easier for us than for most, as our refrigerators are often packed to the gills with home-cooked leftovers from recipe testing sessions. But when you start your day at 9 a.m. and don't get home until after 10 p.m., it can be hard to muster the strength to halfheartedly jab at a few buttons on the microwave, let alone whip up dinner from scratch. This is precisely the situation in which I found myself on Tuesday night. Exhausted and famished, just home from the Y+30 panel on the future of food, I opened the refrigerator at 10:13 p.m. and stared dully at the contents, for a moment completely overwhelmed. It was as if I had never seen a head of broccoli or a wedge of good French cheese before.

After what seemed like an eternity, my eyes fixed on a container of homemade broth I'd coaxed from the carcass of a roast chicken the week before. Recently, I'd written a post for food52 on stracciatella, the Italian version of egg drop soup. I still had all of the ingredients, except for the parsley, which had died a slow and agonizing death in the bowels of my vegetable drawer. But who needs herbs -- or rather, who wants to spend the time washing and chopping herbs -- at 10:21 p.m.? Glimpsing a light at the end of the tunnel, I dumped some chicken broth into a pot, set it over a high flame and got to work. A lightly beaten egg and a small pile of grated parmesan later, I was ready for action. I whisked both into the simmering broth, along with some salt and pepper, and let it cook just until the egg and cheese morphed from a creamy liquid into a raft of delicately scrambled "rags." Another pinch of salt, and my dinner was ready.

Here's the recipe, only for four people and including the parsley:

Stracciatella

Serves 4

5 1/2 cups homemade or very good quality chicken broth
2 eggs
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring 5 cups of the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup.

2. Whisk together the remaining stock, eggs, parmesan, parsley, nutmeg, salt to taste and a few generous grinds of pepper.

3. When the broth just comes to a boil, lower the heat and slowly whisk in the egg mixture. The soup will stop simmering temporarily. Whisk for a minute or two, until it returns to a simmer and the egg begins to coagulate in shaggy little clumps. Add more salt and pepper if you'd like and serve immediately with more grated parmesan and black pepper on the side.