I first tasted Arnaldo’s Brodo di Natale (Christmas Broth) after returning from a head-clearing walk around Lago di Penne on New Year’s Day 2011.
How it was made didn’t interest me as much as whether it was possible to have some more. Unlike the unfortunate treatment of Olver Twist, I was in luck.
There’s nothing quite like returning from a walk on a cold day and being greeted with piping hot soup to comfort and nourish.
Earlier this year I helped make the broth under Arnaldo’s guidance.
I was a bit shocked by the amount of cheese and egg that goes in to making it. Sometimes it’s best not to know all the details.
There are probably many other recipes for Brodo di Natale so what follows is a description of how we made the soup back in October (you don’t have to wait for Christmas!). Vary the recipe as you see fit.
Prepare stock for the brodo by simmering a chicken, covered by water seasoned with salt and black pepper, in a large pot for 1.5 hours with three small peeled potatoes and a quartered onion.
Check the stock every half hour and scoop off any grease that gathers and floats on top of the water.
While the stock is simmering prepare the meatballs.
Using a mixing bowl combine three eggs, 4 table spoons on grated parmesan, 3 table spoons of oil, 500g of minced pork meat (meat for ragu is perfect), and bread crumbs. Season the mixture with salt and black pepper.
The mixture should bind together so adjust amounts accordingly.
Cover a large plate with a layer of flour.
Make the meatballs, about 2 centimetres in diameter, using a scoop e.g. an olive pitter or a small melon scoop, or by hand.
Try to make them all the same size and rest on the plate with the flour.
(This can take up to 30 mins unless you are quick like Arnaldo!)
When the stock is ready remove the chicken – it is not required for the brodo.
Mash the potatoes in the stock if they have not dissolved already.
Combine two eggs, two table spoons of parmesan, seasoned with salt and pepper in a bowl.
Gently add the meatballs to this mixture, coating them, then add the coated meatballs, two or three at a time to the simmering stock.
Make a frittata/omelette by combining eggs, parmesan, breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and black pepper, fry the mixture in a pan on both sides, pay attention, don’t overcook it, no distractions!
Take the cooked frittata off the pan, allow it to cool. Once cooled slice into 2-3 cm squares.
Wash some lettuce and add tear off some leaves.
Add the frittata squares and leaves to the stock.
Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Finally combine three eggs, four tablespoons of parmesan, seasoned with salt and pepper and add the mixture to the stock.
If you time it properly you can sit and have an apperitivo before serving as the brodo is left to simmer some more.
I think this particular vintage came from Eurospin.
If desired, sprinkle parmesan on top of each serving to taste.