Quiche Lorraine with Bacon and Kale

Last year, our friends, Maribeth and Michael, hosted an impromptu and festive Easter Brunch. I volunteered to bring something eggy. The morning of the brunch, I looked at what I had in the fridge: eggs, cheese, and bacon, with green onions and kale growing in the backyard. I decided on quiches. Easter Quiche

I had a Trader Joe’s pie crust in the freezer. All I needed from the grocery store was heavy cream. Easy-peasy. It doesn’t take much to make a quiche which is just a mixture of custard (eggs and cream), cheese, vegetables, bacon if desired, and pie crust. You can easily make do with what you have on hand: mushroom and onion, spinach and goat cheese, tomato and corn, whatever you have in the fridge. This week, I went for the kale and green onion version because once again, I had both growing in my winter garden.

Easter Quiche
The kale and green onions wintered-over under hoops covered with agricultural fabric as I described here.
Easter Quiche
Yield:  This recipe makes 2 single-crust quiches.

2  9 inch pie crusts (I love Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts)
1 pound of bacon, crumbled
1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup chopped kale or spinach
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
10 large eggs, beaten with a fork or blender
4 cups whole milk (ok), or half-and-half (better), or heavy cream (best!)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a pinch or two of freshly ground nutmeg

Mise en Place:
Easter Quiche
To prepare bacon:  
Here’s an easy way to cook a pound of bacon without making a mess. Preheat oven to 375º. Place a sheet of parchment paper or foil on a 13 x 18-inch baking pan. Set the bacon on a cooling rack and place it over the lined baking pan. Cook bacon for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. When done, throw parchment paper in the trash as soon as it is cool enough to handle, before it has a chance to stick to the bottom of the pan. No messy splatter to deal with or dirty pans.
Easter Quiche Easter Quiche Easter Quiche
Wash and slice green onions. Wash, spin, and chop kale leaves.
Easter Quiche

Instructions for putting it all together:

Preheat oven to 425º.

To make the custard: beat eggs together first and then add cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Easter Quiche
Place a single pie crust in each pie plate. Flute edges to make them look pretty. If using Trader Joe’s brand, keep the plastic wrap on the crust while you roll it out and transfer it from the countertop to the pie plate.
Easter Quiche
Layer pie ingredients as follows:
Easter Quiche
Onions and Kale
Easter Quiche
Easter Quiche
Egg Mixture
Easter Quiche
Bake pies at 425º to ensure that the pie crusts cook. Undercooked, doughy crusts are not very appetizing. After 20 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350º to cook the custard interior. When you reduce the heat, take pies out of the oven and line their edges with foil or pie plate shields to keep crust rim from burning. Bake for about 25-30 minutes more. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Note to self: purchase another 9″ pie crust shield– they are so much easier to use than foil.
Easter Quiche Easter Quiche
Let quiche rest about 15 minutes before serving. You can make the day before and reheat in the oven.

How big IS that egg, or a few words about egg sizes.
In the olden days, farmers would gather eggs from their hen houses and use this Jiffy Way Egg Scale to measure the egg’s weight and grade, from small to extra large, for marketing purposes.
My friend, Patty, gave me this scale with the marketing logo “DeKalb Chix” printed on it. I treasure it!

Our chicken eggs range in size from medium to extra large, so often times I have to weight them to get the right amount of eggs for a recipe.
Medium to extra-large.
A little more or less volume won’t matter with a quiche, but it would definitely matter with a cake or pastry recipe where the ratio of dry to liquid ingredients needs to be accurate. This recipe called for 20 ounces. I use my modern digital scale for weighing!
Easter Quiche
The more you know…


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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Aunt Bridget’s Chicken Soup with Little Meatballs

My high-spirited Great Aunt Bridget was the original #nofilter. Always, words were coming out of her mouth that caused us to look at one another as if to say, Did she really just say that? She had a memorable look, too: her hair was always done up, her dresses were colorful, and she rocked the cat-eye glasses look. She was comfortable in her own skin. AND, she made a great pot of chicken soup. Between the things she said, the clothes she wore, the bouffant hairdos, and the food she cooked, Aunt Bridget was memorable. And, loved. What more could we each want?

Jerome Bridget - Version 2

She and her husband, Uncle Jerome, both immigrants from Sicily, owned successful side by side businesses on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore — Bridget’s Beauty Shoppe and Jerome’s Barber Shop. They created an interior doorway between their adjoining buildings so they and their customers could visit one another all day. It was a happening place. As a little girl, I loved to sit under the hairdryer hood and basque in the attention of my aunt as she paraded her loyal customers by my chair so they could meet her grandniece.

In this photo from 1963, Aunt Bridget is standing at the forefront of her salon wearing a white uniform, and Uncle Jerome is in the back in his barber’s shirt. Aunt Bridget employed a dozen full-time “operators.” They were her girls, and they were busy. This was when women went to the beauty parlor weekly to get their hair washed and set. Upstairs from the shop, Aunt Bridget had a kitchen where she and her niece, Theresa, fed everyone — either chicken soup or spaghetti and meatballs.


One year, in the mid-1970s, I visited my grandparents in Florida during Easter break; so did my Aunt Bridget. In the whirlwind that signaled her arrival from the airport, my aunt walked into the kitchen, opened her purse, and pulled out an “old hen,” complete with its collagen-laden feet. She announced she was going to make a pot of soup. Her nephew had brought her by the Fell’s Point Farmers Market in Baltimore to get the hen on the way to dropping her off at the airport. I regret now that I spent more time rolling my 19-year-old eyes than looking for a pen and paper to write down her soup recipe; it was the best. I have spent years trying to recreate it.

What was so memorable about Aunt Bridget’s soup was the broth’s full-bodied flavor and the light, bite-sized meatballs that floated on the surface.

In my early attempts at recreating her broth, I was left with either perfectly cooked chicken in a thin stock that had to be boosted with a bouillon cube or a great tasting stock with tasteless, limp meat. Eventually, I figured out a way to have both rich stock and tasty meat. I simmered the soup for sixty minutes, removed the chicken thighs, pulled the meat off the bones, set the meat aside, and returned the bones to the stockpot to simmer for a few more hours.

About the Ingredients

My mother taught me to use chicken thighs when making soup. As the mother of seven children, she worried about us choking on small bones, so using whole chicken breasts with ribs attached was out. That was fine with me because I love the taste of thigh meat.

Bones, cartilage, and connective tissue contain a protein called collagen. As the bones simmer in water, the collagen breaks down, and once chilled, congeals into gelatin. This gelatin is your goal in broth-making. If the broth is not cooked long enough or is too dilute, it will not gel up like this.

chicken broth

The aromatic vegetables used to flavor a stock are known as mirepoix (pronounced “MEER-pwah”). The standard French mirepoix consists of 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery. Other aromatics I use are garlic and parsley.

bridget's chicken soup

Now to get started! First, we’ll make the broth, then the meatballs, and then add the greens.

To Make the Broth

Chicken stock ingredients:
8 pounds chicken thighs, with skin and bones
5 quarts cold water
1 large unpeeled onion (1 pound), quartered
⅓ head celery, with leaves (½  pound)
4 unpeeled carrots (½ pound)
6 cloves unpeeled garlic (½ ounce)
10 whole stems Italian flat-leafed parsley
3 fragrant bay leaves
1 teaspoon black pepper, or about 20 twists of the pepper grinder
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Yield: 4 quarts of chicken stock

Rinse and drain chicken. Put in a large stockpot.

bridget's chicken soup

Cover with cold water. If you start with hot water, the stock could become cloudy. Bring ingredients to a simmer. Remove foam as it forms.

aunt bridget's chickens soup

Prep the mirepoix: wash unpeeled vegetables and cut into large chunks. Add to stockpot. Add seasonings: bay leaves, garlic, parsley, and pepper. I do not add salt until I decide how I’m going to use the broth.

bridget's chicken soup

Add the vinegar. Acids such as vinegar or lemon juice help break down cartilage and pull nutritious minerals like calcium out of the bones.

Bring stock to a gentle simmer and cook for 60 minutes. A hard boil will make the stock cloudy.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the thighs. Once cool enough to touch, pick off the meat and refrigerate until later.

bridget's chicken soup

Return bones, cartilage, and skin back to the stockpot. Simmer for a minimum of 5 hours. Strain through a colander positioned over a large container.

To get a couple more cups of flavorful stock, put the solids from inside the colander back into the stockpot. Add about 3 cups of hot water and stir. Run the solids and stock through the colander again, collect the stock, and add to the saved container of stock. Discard solids.

Strain the stock through a fine sieve to clarify it further.

Refrigerate stock until fat rises to the top and hardens. Use a spoon to scrape it off.


To Make the Meatballs

bridget soup

bridget soup

Yield: 70 small meatballs

1 pound of ground meat. (I use a package of combined beef, pork, and veal when I can find it.)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
¾ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
zest from 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 tablespoons water

Mise en Place for Meatballs:
Grate the Parmesan cheese.

bridget soup bridget soup

To learn how to make your own bread crumbs, go here, or buy plain, fine bread crumbs.


Zest a lemon.

bridget soup bridget soup

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix gently until just blended– less than 30 seconds.

meatballs meatballs

Use a melon scoop to make bite-sized meatballs. Place on a 13″ x 18″ rimmed sheet pan. The meat mixture weighed 1½ pounds. From that, I made 70 meatballs. Set aside.

meatballs meatballs

Prep the Greens

I used spinach because I have so much of it in my garden. Otherwise, escarole or endive would be my first choice. Wash the greens. If leaves are large, chop them.


Putting It All Together

bridget soup

4 quarts chicken stock, homemade or boxed
1 pound fresh spinach
About 70 uncooked bite-sized meatballs
1 pound cooked small pasta, such as ditalini, cooked separately

Bring the pot of chicken broth to a boil in a soup pot. Add the meatballs. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

bridget soup

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the greens.

bridget soup

Serve immediately while greens are still brightly colored. bridget soup

Sprinkle with freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan. If desired, serve over pasta cooked separately. Do not cook the pasta in the broth — it will soak up most of the liquid.

bridget soup

Only the most memorable great-aunts get chickens named after them! Our two Rhode Island Reds were named Bridget and Josephine (my grandfather’s sisters who had reddish-brown hair). The two blonde Buff Orpingtons were named after my husband’s blonde grandmothers, Mildred and Alice. The two black and white Plymouth Barred Rocks were named after my silver and black-haired grandmothers, Marion and Concetta.

Aunt Josephine and Aunt Bridget flank their older brother, my grandfather, at my wedding. They were the last of the thirteen Giordano siblings.

Other Soups
Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Chicken Bones
Mrs. Lombard’s Portuguese Kale Soup
Pasta e Fagioli, aka Pasta and Bean Soup
Award-Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili
Kelly’s Duck Stew

Other Family Favorites
Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Marinara Sauce
Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower
Rapini and Fettuccini
Spiralized Zucchini with Fresh Marinara Sauce
Rachelle’s Italian Sausage, Onions, and Peppers
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram @JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.