Greek Avgolemono Soup
Using eggs instead of butter or cream as a binding agent in sauces was a hallmark of Jewish cooks in Greece. While many Greeks thickened and enhanced the flavor of their meat dishes with a thick béchamel or cream sauce, Greek Jews who observed kashrut often substituted an avgolemono sauce—a mixture of eggs and lemon—instead. Avgolemono is also used as the base for more complex sauces and custard toppings, or incorporated into soups as a flavoring/ thickening agent.
- Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan. Sauté the onions over moderate heat until they’re soft and very lightly golden.
- Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Pour in the rice.
- Simmer the soup, covered, for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Begin the lemon-egg mixture by whisking the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they’re lemon colored. Add the lemon juice and combine. Fold the egg whites into the mixture.
- Whisking constantly, add 1⁄2 cup of the hot soup to the egg mixture to gently raise its temperature (so it won’t “seize” and curdle when combined with the remaining hot soup).
- With the soup on the lowest flame (if the soup is too hot the eggs will curdle), slowly add the lemon mixture into the pot. Whisk constantly until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated.
- Add the chopped dill. Refrigerate if serving cold.
- Garnish with thin strips of lemon zest and a sprig of dill.
- Never allow raw egg yolks to “sit” with an acidic food for more than a few minutes. The acid will “cook” the yolk and make it grainy.
- Never use bottled lemon juice. The flavor bears no resemblance to “real” lemon!