I Opened the Window and in Flew Enza

Or how to feed a fever


I had a little bird, and its name was Enza
I opened the window, and in-flew-enza.

Children’s skip rope rhyme, circa 1918


Flu season is upon us. No doubt about it. Just look at the CDC Weekly Influenza Report, your workplace or your kid’s classroom and you’ll be convinced. While nowhere near as severe as the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919, which killed an estimated 20 to 40 million people worldwide, this year’s flu is nothing to sneeze at, so to speak.


Beeton Cover Page


Beeton Invalid CookeryThis is a bit like the “Invalid Cookery” chapter out of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, but where in the mid-nineteenth century the esteemed Isabella Beeton recommended beef tea, today’s common wisdom dictates soups based on brodo di pollo – chicken broth. I grew up hearing that chicken soup was good for what ailed you, and science has proven it true. So get a head start on the flu season and stock your freezer with several quarts of brodo di pollo.

A word about chicken broth: I’ll say unequivocally that homemade is best. You can control the flavor, and you know exactly what it contains. If you don’t have a personal favorite of your own, click here for mine. Of the many commercial brands available Stock Options* is now my favorite. It comes in 8 and 16 ounce tubs and is in the frozen section at the market. Its flavor is light and clean, and not at all salty. For boxed and canned versions, I can recommend Swanson Certified Organic Chicken broth. It is supplied in a 32 ounce container.

This trio of light broth based soups is perfect for someone in need, and with brodo in your freezer you are halfway there. The decorated pasta squares in the Quadrucci in brodo, will lift the spirits of any flu sufferer. The second, Zuppa Pavese is a meal in itself – toasted bread topped with an egg and Parmigiano and set floating in a pool of hot broth, complete nutrition at its simple, yet satisfying best. For a cooked egg soup, try Stracciatella, light broth brimming with egg. Keep these in your recipe file. Like the Girl Scout motto says: Be prepared.



Quadrucci in Brodo

Quadrucci in brodo

serves 6

This Pugliese dish, with leaves of parsley sandwiched between layers of egg pasta, is as beautiful to look at as it is good to eat. Although I’d love to take credit for inventing this, the inspiration came from a recipe in the 1984 classic Giuliano Bugialli’s Foods of Italy. Although Sig. Bugialli set his quadrucci sailing in turkey broth and used different proportions for his pasta, the inspiration came from him. Credit where credit is due.

2 quarts brodo di pollo
1 1/2 cups 00 flour
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
warm water as needed
parsley leaves, about 20, depending on size

Place flour, Parmigiano and salt in workbowl of food processor fitted with metal knife. Pulse to combine. Combine eggs and oil in a measuring cup. With processor running, add in steady stream. Process until mixture comes together, adding a bit of warm water if mixture is too dry. Form dough into disk. Wrap in plastic and let rest 30 minutes.

Divide dough in 2 pieces. Roll each piece through settings 1 through 4 on pasta machine, dusting occasionally with semolina.


Placing Parsley on Quadrucci


Lay each piece flat on semolina lined counter and place parsley leaves along half of each sheet, pressing parsley flat as you work. If your pasta is dry, you may need to dampen the surface slightly to allow the parsley leaves to adhere. You may place the parsley leaves close together. The dough will stretch as you roll it, and the parsley leaves will move farther apart.


Folding Quadrucci


Fold half of sheet without leaves over the other. Press or roll briefly with rolling pin so sheets hold together.


Rolling Quadrucci


Roll pasta again, up to setting #5, and using a fluted cutter, cut pasta into 2 inch squares. Place on semolina lined towels and cover.


Quadrucci Cut


Quadrucci Cut


Heat brodo to simmering. In a separate large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a rapid boil and add 3 tablespoons salt. Add quadrucci to salted water and cook 2 minutes or until done. Meanwhile divide brodo among bowls. Add cooked quadrucci to brodo and serve.


Zuppa Pavese

Zuppa Pavese

serves 4

Tradition says this dish was born of a battle lost. On February 24, 1525 the army of France’s King Francis I de Valois was defeated by Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Word is that King Francis, defeated though he was, traveled the countryside in search of a meal.

He came upon Cascina Repenita, a farm, where a peasant woman gave him a bowl with bread, broth and cheese. She added two eggs, and the dish was eagerly consumed by the King. The rest as they say, is history. Charles was eventually caught, taken prisoner and surrendered the war. French hegemony in Lombardy was over, but this dish lives on, a meal fit for a king.

1 1/2-2 quarts brodo di pollo
4-8 slices rustic bread or baguette, cut ½ inch thick and buttered on both sides
4-8 large pasteurized eggs
grated Parmigiano
black pepper

Toast bread in skillet, turning once. Heat brodo to boiling. Divide bread among bowls. Crack 1 or 2 eggs atop bread. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano.


Zuppa Pavese


Carefully ladle hot broth over eggs. Repeat with remaining bowls. Top each with black pepper, more Parmigiano, and serve immediately.

Food Safety: The CDC recommends against the consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, especially by young children, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness. Pasteurized eggs should be used when raw eggs are to be consumed. Safest Choice Eggs from Davidson’s (www.safeeggs.com) are in shell pasteurized and available in many supermarkets.







serves 2

This soup is packed with protein and easily digestible. Great by itself when enjoyed in the best of health, it is perfect for the sickroom, too. And it is super fast to prepare.

1 quart brodo di pollo
2 large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano, plus more if desired
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat broth to simmering in a medium saucepan. Beat eggs, cheese, pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl. Slowly pour egg mixture into brodo, whisking all the while. Continue whisking, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Check for seasoning. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with chopped parsley and serve with Parmigiano on the side.

*Cook’s Note: When I first published this article I recommended Perfect Addition frozen stock. Sadly, the product is no longer available. However, I can recommend Stock Options, another line of frozen stock. Contact the company to see if it is sold in markets near you.


Note: You can click on any picture to see a slide show!

I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.

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  1. Comment by Deborah Mele:

    Adri, having just spent three days on the couch with the flu I could have used a bowl of homemade chicken soup! Yours look wonderful, and although I love many other types of food, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of homemade soup. Wonderful post!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Deborah,

      Oh no! I am so sorry to hear you have been ill. I certainly hope you are better. Thank you for the kind words, and I’m with you – there’s nothing better than a good bowl of chicken soup. Alla prossima!

  2. Comment by Mette:

    This is a soup extravaganza. And they all look absolutely irresistible.

  3. Comment by rita cooks italian:

    Cara Adri, tu confermi quello che ho scritto nel mio precedente commento: il brodo di pollo fatto in casa e’ il migliore!! Il sapore e’ piu’ leggero ma sicuramente piu’ “reale” (we need real food these days!!).
    Mi hai fatto venire voglia di spolverare la mia vecchia Imperia (la popolare vecchia macchinetta della pasta Italiana che mi ha dato mia madre)e provare a fare i quadrucci: facili e gustosi immersi nel brodo! Il mio piatto favorito e’ pero’ la stracciatella, sempre presente sul tavolo della mia famiglia durante le feste dopo l’antipasto e prima del primo piatto di pasta!! Ciao

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Rita,

      D’accordo, fatto in casa e sempre il migliore. Ah l’Imperia -io uso uno macchinetta “Atlas.” L’ho comprato molti anni fa.

      Spero che tu fai i quadrucci. Vorrei vedere un foto, per favore! La straciatella e anche il favorito di mio marito, Bartolomeo. Ricorda della tavola di sua madre.

      Grazie per tuo commento – ho bisogno di praticare mio Italiano.

      Alla prossima!

  4. Comment by Pat:

    I feel fortunate that my yearly flu shot worked, and I have not gotten sick this winter even though I am a little worn out from moving.

    All three soups look like fabulous comfort food, whether one is ill or not! The quadrucci are so beautiful! Like art in a bowl!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Pat,

      So far so good on the flu front in our home too. Let’s hope we all stay well. I hope you are loving your new home. What a move! Thanks for the kind words!

  5. Comment by sippitysup:

    I am having deja vu. I most have popped in here before and read this but not left a message. I remember being struck by the pasta last time. So delicate and beautiful. But this time the rustic bread soup has started a craving deep in my soul. GREG

  6. Comment by domenicacooks:

    Such a lovely, appetizing post. I can tell that a lot of work went into it. Homemade chicken soup has always been my favorite thing to eat ~ over anything else, I think. The quadrucci are stunning. I echo a previous commenter ~ hai veramente le mani d\’oro!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Domenica,

      I’m with you on the chicken soup. It is just remarkably satisfying.

      The Quadrucci were a pleasure to make, and so pleasing to the eye and palate. Let’s hope that this flu season we can enjoy these soups for their gustatory delights and not because we are ill. Thanks for the kind words, amica.

  7. Comment by Donatella:

    Grazie per avermi fatto visita e complimenti per il blog e per le bellissime ricette che ho visto più su. Buon inizio settimana e a presto!

  8. Comment by The Café Sucré Farine:

    This is so……. pretty, you have made something that looks more like pieces of artwork though the recipe sounds quite delicious too!

  9. Comment by zonzolando:

    Complimenti cara ti sono venuti benissimo questi quadrucci! Hai le mani d’oro 🙂 Bacioni!

  10. Comment by Trisha Thomas:

    Adri — You are such a talented artist!! Those quadrucci are absolutely beautiful. They remind me of ironing coloful New England fall leaves in wax paper when I was a little girl growing up in Boston. Complimenti!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Trisha!

      Thank you – your image of the quadrucci as leaves is beautiful. I can see it now – quadrucci falling from the trees and being picked up by the wind. Excellent!

  11. Comment by edith pilaff:

    What a wonderful post! Love all of those recipes and the pictures are magical..
    Thank you

  12. Comment by lory b:

    Quanti bei piatti, saporiti e sani!!!
    Complimenti e a presto!!!!

  13. Comment by Anthony Fama:

    Adri the quadrucci in brodo is very cool looking like art

  14. Comment by Ciaochowlinda:

    Wowee what a post. My mom always made chicken soup or stracciatella when I was sick, but this is not your everyday chicken soup! Those quadrucci have my head spinning. So gorgeous, especially the photo with the light coming through them. Brava Adri. bravo photografo Bart.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Linda!

      Thanks – I figure why not make some fancy soups to show that special flu victim you really care! We had fun with the pix. Bart just went wild for the Quadrucci. He’d never seen that technique, and really wanted to show it off to best effect. I am glad you like it.

  15. Comment by simona:

    Adri i love make homemade pasta! yours with addition of herbs is fantastic!! compliments! have a nice day:***

  16. Comment by Chiara:

    Cara Adri , l’inverno è la stagione migliore per gustare questi magnifici primi piatti, il mio preferito è la stracciatella, mi ricorda la mia infanzia…Sono tutti dei veri comfort food!Buona settimana, un abbraccio !

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Chiara,

      I comfort foods, si.. Anch’io ricorda queste zuppe, particolarmente la stracciatella o semplicamente un poco di brodo con i “fideo” , uno piatto veloce della mia mamma.

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