Cold Spring, Hot Broth

Who else feels like spring is draaaaaaging her feet? I’ve been seeing lots of snapshots and mini-rants on social media about late-winter snowstorms, dreary landscapes and chilly days so I know I’m not alone.

I have a remedy. It’s this soup, this simple, gentle soup composed of crepes in broth ~ crespelle in brodo in Italian, scrippelle ‘mbusse in Abruzzo, which is where the recipe comes from. More specifically, it comes from the Teramo province, where, according to lore, a Teramano chef preparing a meal for French officials, accidentally tipped a platter of crepes into a pot of boiling broth. Whether that story is true or not I have no idea. If only my kitchen mistakes turned out so well.

crespelle 2

Crepes are used in cucina Teramana in a number of (delicious) ways. Timballo di scippelle is a baked dish, similar to lasagne, in which the crepes are layered with sauce, cheese and other optional fillings, such as sautéed mushrooms. Crepes are also filled with a cheese, vegetable, meat or fish stuffing, rolled into cannelloni and baked in sauce. The province is bordered by the eastern slope of the Gran Sasso mountain range, and you can imagine that such hearty dishes warm both body and soul in winter.

Spring is coming, though—officially it’s here—and this is the dish with which to usher it in. Crepes in broth are light but nourishing; it’s food that renews the spirit. I made this as a first course for friends who came to dinner the other night, and I’ll make it again on Easter Sunday (I can’t think of a better primo piatto to accompany the roast lamb).

Making crepes is a lot easier than you might think; all you need is a good non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Don’t skimp on the broth, though. A good homemade broth is essential.

Here’s a short (6-second) Vine video I took of the process of making the crepes:

making crepes

and one of assembling the finished dish:

plating crespelle

Happy Easter and Happy Spring, friends. Alla primavera! 

Makes 6 first-course servings

Scrippelle ‘Mbusse (Crepes in Broth)

from The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy

Delicate egg crepes are sprinkled with sharp pecorino, rolled up and served with hot broth poured over them. I like to use goat’s milk for the crepe batter because it echoes the flavor of the pecorino (if I had access to sheep’s milk I would use that instead!). Regular cow’s ‘milk is fine, too. You can make the broth ahead of time and freeze it. Same with the crepes. They will keep, tightly wrapped in plastic, in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for longer. Just bring them to room temperature before filling and rolling. This recipe can be doubled to serve 12.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup goat’s milk or whole cow’s milk
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Instructions

About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups freshly grated pecorino Abruzzese or pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving

9 to 8 cups Brodo di Carne or your favorite homemade chicken broth

Sift the flour into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour, whisking all the while to avoid lumps. The batter should be the consistency of thick cream. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In a 9-inch nonstick skillet, melt a little of the butter—just enough to film the bottom of the pan—over medium heat. When the butter is hot, pour in a small ladleful of batter (a scant 1/4 cup) and quickly swirl the pan to coat the bottom with batter, forming a thin pancake. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, or until just set and barely beginning to brown on the bottom. Using an offset spatula, flip the crepe and cook on the other side for 20 to 30 seconds, or until set. Transfer the crepe to a plate. Continue making crepes until you have used all the batter, making sure to add butter to the pan as needed. Stack the crepes on the plate as you remove them from the pan. You should end up with 12 crepes.

In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. While the broth is heating, assemble the crepes. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of cheese on each crepe and roll it up, cigar-style. As the crepes are rolled, place them, seam side down, in shallow bowls, two per bowl. Ladle the hot broth over the crepes and sprinkle with additional pecorino, if you like. Serve hot.

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15 Responses to Cold Spring, Hot Broth

  1. Helen Free March 20, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Twice blessed. The morning after I sampled these light and soothing crepes, I opened my S&S to see if I could make them. I froze at the crepe cooking step. This post renews my desire to try. Hurrah for videos.

    • Domenica March 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      Helen, you can make them. Trust me. EZ. Or just come back and we’ll make them together.

  2. Laura (Tutti Dolci) March 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    I love these flavors, these crepes look like the perfect way to welcome spring!

    • Domenica March 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      If spring ever shows up! Thanks for reading Laura.

  3. ciaochowlinda March 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    You are taking me back to Abruzzo in my mind and to my kitchen in reality, where I will thaw out my homemade broth and get to work on the scrippelle. I love the coordination of the dishtowel, the pattern of the china and green herbs in the crepes. well done.

    • Domenica March 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      Thank you Linda. It’s not often I get compliments on style!

  4. elisa March 21, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    I would call this recipe a “spring comfort food”. I made these crespelle when I bought your book The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy”. Loved them in chicken broth. I always have homemade chicken broth in the freezer so I am ready to make them again. My mother always added to the cooking chicken broth a pinch of fresh nutmeg and that how I still make my broth.
    Buona Pasqua Domenica a te e alla tua famiglia!

    • Domenica March 21, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      Elisa, it makes me happy to know that you have cooked the crespelle. I like your suggestion of putting a touch of nutmeg in chicken broth. I have always put a bit in fresh pasta dough and even in the crespelle batter, but I don’t think I’ve ever used it in broth. Thanks for sharing another great tip. Buona Pasqua!

  5. Michelle - Majella Home Cooking March 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Ciao Domenica, Do you know that in all of the times I have visited Abruzzo I have never tasted this dish? (Although I have has Timballo di Scrippelle). It isn’t typical of our area and I haven’t spent much time in the Teramo area. I hope to remedy that this coming summer, but meanwhile, I’ll eagerly prepare your version in my own kitchen. A presto! Michelle

    • Domenica March 22, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      Ciao Michelle, thanks for reading. And thanks to our lovely mutual friend Helen Free for connecting us. I’m not that surprised that you haven’t had this ~ I didn’t have it growing up either. My mother is from Chieti, and it wasn’t a specialty in her province. Although I spent my summers in the province of Teramo, I was on the coast, where seafood rules. Also, I think this is more of a cold-weather dish, not something you want to eat after spending the morning lounging on the beach (ah, the good old days).
      Cheers,
      D

  6. Frank @Memorie di Angelina March 24, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    I’m definitely with you. And they say it’s going to snow again tomorrow…

    The broth does looks lovely and very elegant. It would make a very nice first course for Easter dinner, methinks…

    • Domenica March 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      Frank, can you believe this crazy weather?! Grazie for the comment and Buona Pasqua

  7. Tami Lamando December 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    What would be a good main course to go with this?

    • Domenica Marchetti December 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      Hi Tami, thanks for your question. Lots of main dishes go with this soup: beef tenderloin or a good pork roast, for example. Lamb chops or roast leg of lamb would also go well. If you wanted to keep it vegetarian, stuffed peppers (or stuffed mixed vegetables) would be a nice main. Hope you give it a try.

      • Tami Lamando December 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

        Thanks so much.

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