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Today's Case

Carraba's Spicy Sicilian Chicken Soup

Re: Carrabas Mama Mandolas Chicken Soup
From: Elaine
Date: 6/23/2023, 2:25 PM
To: Phaedrus 

On 6/23/2023 8:51 AM, Elaine wrote:

I'm looking for Carrabas Mama Mandolas Chicken Soup recipe. Not a copy cat recipe, the original.

Hello Elaine,

The first recipe below, the "official" recipe, is from Carrabba's Cookbook: "Carrabba's Italian Grill: Recipes from Around Our Family Table." See the webpage: Carrabba's Cookbook
You can buy a copy of that cookbook from Barnes & Noble or from Amazon.

Yes, I see that a reviewer of that cookbook on Amazon said that the recipe in the cookbook doesn't taste like the restaurant soup. Too "bland," I think they said.

The second recipe below comes from the "Atlanta Journal Constitution." Someone wrote to the AJC food section asking for the recipe. The impression that one gets from reading the article is that the food section writer contacted the Atlanta Carrabba's and was given the recipe below.

Neither of these recipes says "copycat." Both give the reader the impression that they are from Carrabba's. If you try these recipes and they don't taste like the soup served in the restaurant, then I have no way to improve on them. I have no direct line into Carrabba's. Even if I were willing to make these recipes myself, I could not verify whether they taste like Carrabba's or not, because I have never tasted Carrabba's soup.

Carrabba's is a chain restaurant. It's rather doubtful that their dishes are prepared completely from scratch at each one of their restaurants. If they were, then how could the restaurant maintain consistency between soup made at different locations by different chefs? The key part of this soup may be prepared at a central commissary and sent pre-prepared to the local restaurants, where the different parts of the dish are combined into the final dish. If so, then the local restaurant staff may not even know the complete "original" recipe. The spices, in particular, may be a premixed packet that comes already measured out and mixed for a certain number of servings.

I will post this for reader input. Perhaps a Carraba's employee or former employee can shed some light. Perhaps someone who has eaten Carrabba's soup can recommend a close copycat or "tastes-like." That may be the best you can do.


Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup (Carrabba's cookbook recipe)

Makes 8 To 12 Servings

1 whole chicken, about 4 l/2 pounds, giblets removed
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 green bell peppers, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 medium baking potatoes, such russet or Burbank, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ditalini or other soup pasta

1. Put the whole chicken, onion, celery, carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes 
and their juices in a large soup pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. 
Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface. 
Add the parsley, garlic, and 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover the pot and simmer until the chicken 
is falling off the bones, about 2 hours. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a large 
bowl and let cool for about 20 minutes. Keep the soup in the pot simmering.
3. Remove the meat from the chicken, discarding the skin and bones, taking care not 
to mangle the meat and keeping it in neat pieces. Tear or pull the boned chicken into 
large bite-sized pieces. (We prefer hand-pulled chicken to chopped chunks.)
4. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt to 
taste. Add the ditalini and cook according to the package directions until tender. 
Drain well.
5. Using a large slotted spoon or a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes in the 
pot to lightly thicken the broth. Add the chicken and pasta to the pot. Season with 
salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Tip: Do not add uncooked pasta to soup, or it will soak up too much broth during 
cooking, and make the soup very thick.
"From the Menu"

Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup (Atlanta Journal Constitution recipe)

Hands on: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Makes: 16 cups

16 cups water
1 (3-pound) whole chicken
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 green bell peppers, diced
2 onions, diced
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (about 1 large)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
8 ounces cooked pasta

In a large stockpot, combine water, chicken, celery, carrots, potatoes, peppers, 
onions, tomatoes, garlic and parsley. Bring mixture to a boil. Add salt and pepper; 
reduce heat to a simmer. For the first five minutes, skim surface to remove the 
foam that gathers there. Cook soup until chicken is cooked through, about 90 minutes.

Remove chicken from broth and allow to cool slightly. While chicken is cooling, 
use a potato masher to lightly mash potatoes and vegetables in the pot. Remove 
and discard chicken skin and bones, shred meat into two-inch pieces and return 
to pot. Add cooked pasta and heat just until everything is hot.

Per 1-cup serving: 185 calories (percent of calories from fat, 44), 13 grams protein, 
13 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 9 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 53 milligrams 
cholesterol, 753 milligrams sodium.

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