When scrambled eggs are beaten into hot broth, the eggs shred into "rags." The name derives from Straciatella, meaning rags in Italian. Adding spinach gives the soup an appealingly robust flavor.
1. Remove the coarse stems from the spinach and discard any blemished leaves. Rinse the spinach thoroughly in several changes of lukewarm water to remove the sand and grit. Drain and gently pat dry in a clean kitchen towel. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and coarsely chop the leaves.
2. In a 10- to 11-inch skillet with a lid, sauté the garlic cloves in the oil over medium heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes; discard the garlic. Put the spinach in the skillet and coat with the garlic-infused oil. Cover the pan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and simmer, stirring frequently, to evaporate the moisture in the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and the nutmeg. This can be done up to a day ahead to this point and refrigerated in a suitable container.
3. Pour the stock into a large saucepan. Bring to the edge of a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium low and briskly simmer the spinach for 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the eggs until frothy and then stir in the cheese. Add a small amount of the simmering stock to the eggs and whisk to temper the mixture. Return the egg mixture to the stock and stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes or until the egg looks as though it has been torn into little flakes. Adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve at once with additional cheese passed at the table, if desired.
From Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island's East End by Silvia Lehrer (Running Press Book Publishers, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Silvia Lehrer. Photographs copyright © 2011 by Karen Wise. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
"[Side dishes] have to be quite dramatic," says Australian author Donna Hay. "They're like the good supporting actors in their roles."