Recipe for avgolemono (Greek egg-lemon soup)
When you want to tickle your taste buds with lemon, whip up a pot of avgolemono, the famous Greek egg-lemon soup. Thick and frothy, yet somehow incredibly light, avgolemono requires just a few ingredients from the pantry: chicken stock, eggs, a couple of lemons, a bit of orzo or rice. It doesn't sound like much, I know, but like many soups, it is more than the sum of its parts. This recipe comes from my friend Greg's Greek grandmother, who believed that making a series of three spitting noises would prevent the eggs and lemon from curdling (Greg advises you turn your head to the side while you do it). After all, who are we to argue with the wisdom of grandmothers?
Avgolemono (Greek egg-lemon soup)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
1/2 lb orzo (or rice)
3 extra large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons, depending on size)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil. Cook orzo in the stock until al dente (about 5 minutes).
Take 1/2 cup of stock out of the pot and set aside to cool slightly.
Remove the pot from heat, and stir every minute or so for about 15 minutes to release some of the heat from the pot and cool the stock a bit.
While the pot is cooling, separate the eggs, putting the egg whites into one large bowl and the yolks into another. Using a whisk, whip the egg whites until firm (when you can lift the whisk and the egg whites stay in place, they're firm enough; this will take about 10 minutes of whipping by hand, or you can use a mixer). Whisk the yolks until they are smooth.
Add the lemon juice to the 1/2 cup of cooled stock that you set aside earlier.
Gently fold the yolks into the egg whites, and then add the lemon/stock mixture to the eggs and fold to combine.
Slowly pour this egg and lemon mixture into the pot of orzo and stock, continuously whipping the stock with a whisk. It is very important that the stock not be too hot, as this will cause the egg to curdle.
The soup should have a nice foamy consistency. Liberally add freshly ground black pepper to taste (I use at least one tablespoon) and a teaspoon or so of salt. Whisk again, and serve.
This soup is even better the second day as it becomes nice and thick.