I first tasted soúpa avgolemono at a Greek restaurant on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago in the early 1980s. It was my first exposure to fine Greek cooking—the soup, a brilliant bread I can sadly no longer remember—what bread would that have been, o Greek food fans?—and a butterflied lamb chop so delicately flavored that I actually liked it. The wine was not retsina, but that’s all I remember. Good wine was wasted on me in those days.
This soup is easy to make if you can master the not-letting-the-eggs-curdle thing. If you can do Hollandaise sauce, you can do this. In fact, it’s easier than Hollandaise.
5 cups clear stock
2 T fresh chopped dill
1/3 cup orzo or tiny seed-shaped (seme di melone) pasta or white rice
3 to 5 eggs
1 T lemon juice or more, to taste
1. Simmer stock with dill in a large pot.
2. Add the pasta or rice and cook until tender.
3. A couple of minutes before serving, beat the eggs in a separate bowl until very frothy. Add the lemon juice and beat it in. The eggs will thicken in consistency.
4. Pour about 1/2 cup of hot stock into the eggs in a thin stream, whisking constantly.
5. Pour all the egg mixture into the soup pot, whisking constantly and making sure to scrape sides of the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer but NOT to a boil. Remove from heat after it has simmered about 2 minutes, and serve immediately.
6. You can cover the remaining soup in the pot now, but not for long, because the eggs will curdle up. The ideal consistency is very creamy, like an ultra-thin custard. It tastes just fine curdled, but the consistency may seem funky to those who know how it should be.
You can make this with any kind of stock—meat, vegetable, or fish.