This recipe is inspired by avgolemono, the classic Greek lemon, chicken, and rice soup. We've turned it into a main course by adding meatballs and spinach, and we used orzo instead of rice.
What Is Avgolemono Soup?
Greek Avgolemono is typically made with chicken. When I was researching this I found out that what we've made here is actually Yuvarlakia, which is a soup made with meatballs!
Avgolemono (pronounced ah-vo-le-mo-no) is the Greek name for a sauce or soup made by mixing eggs with lemon juice. The egg mixture can be used as a sauce, or to thicken soup. It's originally Sephardic Jewish, and was made with pomegranate or bitter orange juice until lemons became more popular in the Mediterranean. Versions of this soup are found throughout Europe and the Middle East.
The Well-Tempered Egg
The trick to a silky-smooth avgolemono is tempering the eggs before adding them to the soup. When cold eggs meet hot soup they start to cook immediately. So you have to balance the temperature of the eggs so that it's close to that of the soup. (And yes, "temper" and "temperature" come from the same Latin root word. "Temper" has a similar meaning in emotions, because "losing your temper" means you're out of balance.)
What you need to do is gradually raise the temperature of the eggs by adding small amounts of the hot stock. I whisk in about two tablespoons of stock at a time. (If you look at one of the pictures below you'll see that I'm using a 2-tablespoon coffee scoop.) I test the eggs with the tip of my pinky finger to tell when it's close to the temperature of the stock. I did five additions of stock for this recipe.
Ingredients You'll Need
- chicken stock
- Greek-Style Lamb Meatballs
- lemon juice
- cooked orzo
- baby spinach
Tips For a Faster Meal
- Make the meatballs a day or two in advance and store in the fridge.
- Or buy frozen meatballs at the supermarket. They won't taste the same, but the soup will still be delicious!
- Use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh-squeezed.
- Cook the orzo the day before and store it in the fridge until soup day.
- If you have leftover rice from Chinese take-out or delivery, use that instead of the orzo.
Frequently Asked Questions
I need to get dinner on the table, I don't have time to make meatballs!
That's okay, you can pick up a package of frozen meatballs at the supermarket and thaw them out in the microwave.
I don't like lamb, can I use another kind of meatball?
Sure, you can use beef, pork, or chicken meatballs.
Can I use frozen spinach instead of fresh?
You can, but I wouldn't recommend it. There's too much water in it, and the texture won't be the same. Plus, the spinach juice will tinge the color of the soup with green.
I don't have any orzo, can I use rice instead?
Absolutely, the original avgolemono is a chicken and rice soup!
My stock was too hot and it cooked the eggs! What can I do?
Finish making the soup and eat it! It won't be the same soup, but it will still be delicious!
Make Some Avgolemono Soup!
Here are the ingredients: meatballs, baby spinach, orzo, lemon juice, and eggs. I made the meatballs the day before, and I and cooked the orzo and juiced the lemon in the afternoon. With all the prep work done, making the soup was just whisking the eggs and lemon juice and adding everything to the soup pot!
Here's the stock heating on the stove. You want it to be just below a simmer... hot, but not boiling! When you add the eggs, you want them to blend into the stock. If it's too hot, the eggs will cook and you'll end up with something like egg drop soup.
Add the meatballs to the stock and let them heat up while you mix the eggs.
Whisk the eggs and lemon juice until they're well combined. You want a smooth mixture with a bright yellow color.
Now you need to bring the egg mixture up to a temperature close to that of the soup. This is called "tempering" the eggs. You do this by gradually whisking the hot stock, a couple of tablespoons at a time, into the egg mixture until it's warm.
Gradually stir the egg mixture into the stock. I grabbed a whisk instead of a spoon! Don't do that! I had to be careful not to break the meatballs.
Taste the stock and add salt and pepper if you like. Add the spinach and orzo to the pot.
Heat the soup for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted.
Soup's on! Serve with a Greek salad, or with warm pita bread and tzatziki sauce.
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📖 Recipe Card
Greek-Inspired Lemon Soup with Lamb Meatballs
- 6 cups chicken stock
- Greek-Style Lamb Meatballs
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups cooked orzo
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- Heat the stock in a large pot. Bring it to just below a simmer, you don't want it to boil.6 cups chicken stock
- Add the meatballs to the stock and simmer for about 5 minutes to let them heat up and absorb some of the stock.Greek-Style Lamb Meatballs
- Combine the lemon juice and eggs in a bowl and whisk until it's smooth.4 eggs, 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Whisk a couple of tablespoons of stock into the egg mixture. Don't add too much at once or you'll have scrambled eggs! Repeat until the egg mixture is just warm.
- With the heat on low, gradually stir the egg mixture into the stock. You want a smooth consistency and a bright yellow color.
- Add the spinach and orzo and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper if you like.2 cups cooked orzo, 5 ounces baby spinach
- Heat gently until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with bread and a Greek salad.
THIS RECIPE IS FROM
The Spice of Your Life - https://thespiceofyourlife.com
Did you make this recipe? Please let me know what you think!