Barbara Ann Zippi
Watching Angela Anastasia and her family in the kitchen of the History of Italian Immigration Museum on East Passyunk Avenue was taste-tempting every step of the way. She was joined by her daughters, her grandchildren and her husband, George, best-selling author and former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
George has shared the confidence of crime bosses and law enforcement worldwide and writes to demystify the lifestyle that so captures even today’s young Italians. He has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was described on “60 Minutes” as “one of the most respected crime reporters in the country.”
And as fellow storyteller Francis Ford Coppola has shown, enriching his family’s heritage by investing in his ancestral town and producing wines, Anastasia’s pride in his roots is shared in the kitchen daily with his wife Angela sharing their Italian culture, most especially in the art of the meal.
In the past season of Ciao Bella, we had the opportunity to watch Angela Anastasia in action with her famous escarole soup and soup croutons. Everyone has a version but Anastasia’s takes two days to make.
She proudly shares this recipe handed down by her mother Filamena Canzanese Musumeci. Mother Filomena’s family was born in Camden, N.J., where Anastasia’s grandfather, one of seven, was a partner in the Seven Brothers Bakery. When the opportunity arose, her grandfather bought his own bakery in the town of Swedesboro, N.J. The family relocated and all the siblings worked in the business. Anastasia’s grandmother’s kitchen became the hub of many family gatherings, where food was plentiful and delicious. Her mother Filomena and her five aunts all had what some call “the taste,” an almost magical way of cooking. Here she shares her secrets for “the taste.”
Put on your apron and buon appetito from the Anastasia family.
Rustic escarole soup with soft croutons
2 ribs celery
1 small onion
1 sprig Italian parsley
Small tomato, chopped
12-16 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Use enough water to cover the chicken thighs, celery, carrots, onion and parsley.
Bring to a slow boil and skim off top foam. Add seasoning and let simmer for one to two hours.
Cool slightly, remove chicken and strain broth. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate chicken and broth separately. The next day, remove most of the fat from the top of the soup.
Shred chicken. Refrigerate until assembling with meatballs and escarole.
1 pound beef, pork and veal mix
2 slices of bread
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 tsp minced onion
1 sprig Italian parsley, chopped
In bowl, break up bread, add rest of ingredients and mix together with fork.
Add meat, mix gently, let rest. Use very small amount of meat mixture and roll into small tiny meatballs. Will make approximately 100 to 125 tiny meatballs.
Bring large pot of water to boil, add meatballs and simmer for a few minutes, meatballs will rise to top when done. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and lay to drain on folded paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to add to soup.
2 to 3 heads of escarole
In a large pot clean escarole by placing whole heads leaf side down in cold water.
Lift and dump water and repeat until no sand or debris is left in water from the escarole.
Trim off outsides leaves, discard anything bruised. Trim off bottom, chop the rest.
Cook in boiling salted water until soft. Drain well, pressing out water.
Excess water will dilute soup. Refrigerate until ready to add to soup.
12 tbsp breadcrumbs
6 tbsp locatelli grated cheese
1 tsp baking powder
1 sprig minced Italian parsley
2 tsp Lawry’s lemon pepper
Freshly grated breadcrumbs must be used. Do to use canned/commercial.
Gently combine all ingredients and put into a generously greased 13 x 9 pan.
Bake 375 for 20 to 25 minutes. When cooled cut into small squares and store in covered container. Refrigerate.
Heat soup broth and add shredded chicken, meatballs and escarole. Heat through to almost boiling point. Place a few soup croutons in each bowl and pour escarole soup over.
Finish with a sprinkling of grated locatelli.