If you’re looking for comfort food that won’t wreak havoc on your New Year’s healthy-eating resolution, my mother-in-law’s classic brodo is the dish for you.
Brodo means broth in Italian, and Tony’s mother, Marianna, would make this soup for him and his siblings throughout the winter months when they were growing up.
“Anytime one of us would even sneeze, my mother would make her brodo for the whole family,” Tony says. “The soup instantly made us feel better, not just because of its nutritional value, but because of the love she shared with us through food. Whenever I think of her brodo, it’s like she’s here, hugging me.”
In our 24 years of marriage, I have observed the special relationship Sicilians have with food, and their belief that it brings more to our lives than just mere sustenance. As I talked with Tony more about his mother’s brodo, I began to understand why the Italians believe that this soup has healing powers.
“Brodo is simple to make, but don’t let that fool you,” Tony says. “It’s so much more than just a soup. Brodo is like three meals in one: a soup, of course, but beyond that you can make a second meal with the chicken and turkey breasts, as well as the cooked vegetables. And then you can save the strained liquid and use it as a stock for other soups, sauces, or even a nice risotto.”
The flavors of the brodo unfold in layers that belie its simple nature: the heartiness of the poultry, the subtle infusion of flavors from the boiled carrots, onions, celery and potatoes, and the delicate burst of tangy seasoning from the cheese and pepper all blend together into one perfect, healing hug. What’s not to love?
To make Mama Mia’s Brodo, you will need a large stock pot and about three hours to complete the process. For a truly authentic touch, garnish the soup with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a little crushed black pepper. For Tony, it wouldn’t be his mother’s brodo without these two ingredients.
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is a premium grade of Parmesan, and is available in most local grocery stores. While often expensive, we have found very good, affordable Parmigiano-Reggiano at Sam’s Club and Costco.