Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sciuscieddu (Sicilian Egg-Breadcrumb Soup) for Cook the Books: "The Shape of Water" & Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

OK, I am just going to say it now... this Sciuscieddu (Sicilian Egg & Breadcrumb Soup) won't win any beauty contests. It did look better in the photos than I thought it would and that's not saying a lot. The little "dumplings" of parsley, garlic, pecorino cheese and egg fall apart in the broth pretty easily--but, what it lacks in the looks department, it makes up for in comforting, homey goodness, and it's my entry for this round of Cook the Books: The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

The Shape of Water is the first book in the Inspector Montalbano mystery series,set in Sicily and following the exploits of an Italian police Inspector who seems to appreciate a good meal. It's a popular series in Europe and has even been made into an Italian television series, and has developed a following here in the U.S. In The Shape of Water, Montalbano is on the case of the death of a local politician, Silvio Lupanello, that at first seems to be a heart attack. Being that his car was found in "The Pasture"--a rough area known to be used by working girls and drug dealers and the fact that Lupanello was found with his pants down around his knees, it seems like something more may have happened and rumours start to fly. Due to the salacious nature of the incident, Montalbano's superiors want it closed as quickly and quietly as possible, but Montalbano is dogged in his pursuit to find out what truly happened and solve the case.

It took me a while to get into the book--I found some of the details and the number of different characters difficult to follow and I kept waiting for the food. Eventually the food gets there, Montalbano certainly enjoys it, whether it is meals out from trattorias, food cooked and left for him by his housekeeper, a simple self-cooked dinner of pasta with garlic and boiled shrimp, dinner at the police commissioner's house, frequent cups of coffee and even a favorite snack of roasted chickpeas and pumpkin seeds. Food appears in some of the descriptions--he was as "cool as a cucumber" and a "red fillet-of-sole" car. Montalbano is a great character with many layers and a good sense of humor and justice. By the end, I found myself quite fond of him and willing to follow him again on at least another adventure. Not sure that this series will become an addiction for me, but I am glad to have been introduced to it through Cook the Books and this selection's host, Rachel, The Crispy Cook.  

I did get a little stuck in what to make as my dish-inspired by the book--I just couldn't decide. Since the book is set in Sicily, I looked up common Sicilian food on Google and came across this article written by a University of Massachusetts Journalism student on typical dishes. One in particular caught my eye, a soup called Sciuscieddu--supposedly a Scicillian version of egg-drop soup. 

"Sciuscieddu (Egg-bread crumb soup): This is a thicker version of the Roman egg-drop soup called stracciatella. Garlic and parsley are chopped together to create a mince, and added to a mixture of eggs, grated pecorino cheese, and bread crumbs. This mixture is dropped by spoonfuls into boiling chicken or beef broth and served immediately."

The challenge became finding a recipe for what was described above. Most of the recipes I found were meat-based dumplings and it didn't sound like what was described by the article's author. In the end, I just made my own recipe based on the description and how I thought it might look. I adapted it to be vegetarian (using a doctored up "no-chicken" stock as the base), and added carrots for little more color and onions for flavor. I also patted and rolled my dumplings into balls rather than dropping them in off a spoon in order to make them more photo-friendly. If there are any Sicilians out there reading this and I completely bastardized your favorite regional family recipe, my apologies! It was not intended. ;-)

Sciuscieddu (Sicilian Egg-Breadcrumb Soup)
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic. minced
6 cups water
4 tsp non-chicken soup base
freshly-ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed Italian parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup freshly-grated pecorino cheese
1/2 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
3-4 eggs

In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrot and onion and saute until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add water, soup base and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes. Set aside if needed until you are ready to cook dumplings.

Meanwhile, finely chop parsley leaves and garlic cloves together into a paste. Place in a bowl and add cheese and breadcrumbs, mixing together thoroughly. In a separate small bowl, beat 3 eggs together until mixed. Add egg mixture to breadcrumb mix and stir together. Check to see if it is the proper consistency to form small balls or dumplings that will hold together and add more egg (or breadcrumbs if too wet) to obtain the desired consistency. Gently form small round balls or dumplings (about 3/4-inch) and set aside on a plate until ready to cook. (You can also just drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the boiling soup but it won't hold together as well if you care about the "pretty" factor!)

Bring soup broth back up to a soft rolling boil and carefully add the dumplings, cooking for a minute or two. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Gently ladle dumplings into serving bowls and top with additional chopped parsley and grated pecorino cheese. Serve immediately. 

Notes/Results: A very satisfying and comforting bowl of soup that has great flavor. The dumplings break apart a bit which thickens the broth and even if it doesn't look so neat and tidy, it tastes great. Not sure how traditional this dish is or my version of what I think it might be is, but I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I think Montalbano might enjoy it after a long day of investigating. I will make this again--with all the garlic and soothing thickened broth, it would be a great soup when you are feeling rundown or sick. 

The deadline for this round of Cook the Books is tomorrow, Monday, March 25. Rachel will be rounding up the entries on the CTB site soon after. If you didn't get a chance to join us for this round, the April/May selection is The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe, hosted by yours truly! I foresee lots of bakery goodies, tea and macarons for this upcoming round!

We have some good friends waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's see what they brought!

Potato, Cabbage and "Facon" Soup veganized by Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe, who says, "The soup took me far longer than the recipe suggested, as so often happens with my cooking.  In this instance, I ended up serving E and myself dinner after Sylvia had gone to bed so we could enjoy it rather than gulping it down so we could put her to bed at a reasonable hour.  The pureed potato made a creamy base for the soft cabbage and chewy tofu bacon. A soup with lots of interesting texture and plenty of flavour."

Shaheen of allotment2kitchen is back with Spiked Milligan Soup and says, "I hummed at what to call this soup which was specially made for my St Patricks Vegetarian menu.  I eventually had decided on Indian-Irish soup, but my husband a huge Spike Milligan fan called it 'Milligan soup'. ... Well why not?  So in memory of the world premier Irish-Indian, a root vegetable soup spiked with curried spices. ... A bowl was accompanied with chunky home-made shamrock shaped granary croutons.

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes is here with a hearty bowl of chili from Nigella's Kitchen and says, "I found this Cheesy Chili recipe in the “What’s for Supper?” category.  And that is what it’s for.  When you want to get a quick and easy supper on the table, one designed to please children and adults.  There is nothing complicated about this.  It’s not very sophisticated, though the chorizo is a very  nice touch.  Served with some tortilla chips for scooping (or I like to break mine up in the chili) – it is comfort in a bowl.

Please join me in welcoming Mira from Mermaid Cafe, a new blogger who is making her first appearance at Souper Sundays this week with a warming bowl of Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tagine. Mira says, "The one thing that I appreciate about this week's surprise blizzard was the (hopefully) last chance to curl up by my window with a hot and hearty bowl of stew and watch the giant blowing flakes of snow endlessly piling up outside." Welcome Mira!

Simona of Briciole is here with a Bean and Albacore Tuna Salad (Insalata di Fagioli e Tonno). She says, "The combination of beans and canned tuna (we called it fagioli col tonno) reminds me of childhood summer vacations (vacanze estive), when salads of various kinds rotated on the menu. Its simplicity leaves room for interesting variations, like this one. The baby kale pesto with cashews I described yesterday smoothes the edges of the two bold flavors of beans and albacore."

From Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food comes this colorful Salad of Fusili, Chinese Broccoli & Tomatoes. She says, "A warm fusili salad tossed with leftover "puttanesca sauce and gently blanched Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) can be put together in minutes, for example. If you wish to use Gai Lan in such a dish, a good preparation tip is to blanch the Gai Lan, then thinly slice (or make thin shavings of) the blanched stems and leaves before tossing them into the salad."

And finally, an open-faced sandwich, this Tuna & Thyme Bruschetta from Graziana from Erbe in Cucina who says, "Sometimes we prepare often some recipes, completely changing the ingredients and keeping only the basic idea. It's the case of this bruschetta, fast and tasty, that my mother called bread pizza. She used the classic ingredients of pizza capricciosa: boiled egg, ham, mozzarella, origano, but just like the pizza, you can vary the ingredients of this bruschetta as you prefer. Over the years I have tried many different combinations, and this version, with tuna and thyme was very successful."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sunday logo on the side bar for all of the details. 

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. www.teczcape.blogspot.comMarch 24, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    What an interesting soup! I thought they were meatballs initially but surprised by the breadcrumb mixture. Thanks for the round up of dishes

  2. I love this idea of cooking using novels as inspiration - it is such an interesting way to look at books, and the resulting soup looks pretty great as well. :) Thanks for including me in this week's round up!

  3. I'm going to have to try this as a substitute for Italian wedding soup (with the little meatballs)! Those dumplings look super tasty. And I love the name of the to say and to eat!

  4. That looks like a wonderfully comforting dish! I love avgolemono and sopa de ajo and all of those sorts of eggy, simple soups.

  5. While Joanne was thinking Italian Wedding Soup, I was thinking matzoh balls! So many great soups from around the world to try!

    Your post for Cook the Books is just great. I like your book commentary and the Sciuscieddu is definitely something I can see Montalbano spooning up after a hard day of crime solving.

  6. Stracciatella has always been one of my favorite soups, so I am sure I'd like the Sicilian take on it. I am glad you were able to enjoy the book. Lovely roundup of interesting dishes, as always.

  7. Now I want to see if I can find that elusive recipe, though your version sounds delicious. Here on the Big Island our weather is still cool and "soup worthy".

  8. Hah Claudia! Let me know if you do find it. There seemed to be a lot of meat-based variations, a few different spellings and some similar soups where the mixture is pressed out with a ricer, etc. so I gave up. ;-) It was perfect soup weather here this weekend too.

  9. Thanks for joining in Mira! Check out Cook the Books sometime too--it is a lot of fun and we do it bi-monthly so not too taxing. ;-)

  10. Thanks Rachel. It turned out to be a fun pick and a good introduction to the books for me. ;-)

  11. I think Montalbano would definitely enjoy this, I think it sounds and LOOKS delicious! I may also be willing to give book 2 a try...just because I'm curious...

  12. Oh, I don't know, I think it is a pretty beautiful bowl of soup!

  13. Mary@One Perfect BiteMarch 26, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    What a comforting soup! I'll wager it is also delicious. The book sounds worth seeking out. I hope your week is off to a great start. Have a good day. Blessings...Mary

  14. Glennis-Can't Believe We AteApril 1, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    Deb, it may not be pretty, but it certainly looks delicious. I appreciate your post a lot...I just couldn't get into this book. Part of it is things going on in the rest of my life, and part of it was being fascinated by a different reading material, and it just didn't happen. The Color of Tea is here, so I'll be diving into it next. Yummies sound like a good thing to have in the house for my hubby!!

  15. Hey Glennis, no worries--sometimes a book just doesn't grab you. Looking forward to having you join in with The Color of Tea though! :-)

  16. Thanks Debra! You did see it at its very best though. ;-) Trust me the re-heat wasn't at all pretty. Lucky the flavor is good.


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