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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Asparagus and Avgolemono (Greek Lemon and Egg) Soup

I've made a version of this soup with just the eggs, lemon, and rice and I've made it with shredded chicken for a heartier meal, but until this week I hadn't seen it with vegetables. Since I have asparagus growing in my garden, I felt compelled to try out this version. I'm glad I did. This soup is great accompanied by a crusty baguette or a flat bread.


Asparagus and Avgolemono (Greek Lemon and Egg) Soup

Source: Adam Reid at
Serves: 6-8

1 1/2  lb. asparagus
Salt and pepper
2  qt. homemade chicken stock or packaged low-sodium chicken broth
Zest (removed with a vegetable peeler in large strips) and 1/4 cup juice from 1 1/2 medium lemons
1 large bay leaf
Pinch of ground cardamom, or 2 whole cloves
1/2 c long-grain white rice
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
3 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature

Infuse the stock: Bring the stock, lemon zest, bay leaf, and cardamom or cloves to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover the pan and set it aside off the heat to infuse for 20-30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the zest, bay leaf, and cloves if you used them.

Prep the asparagus: Bring 1 quart of water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set aside. Cut the tips off the asparagus spears and reserve the spears for another use. Add the asparagus tips and 2 teas salt to the water, and cook until the asparagus tips are bright green and tender, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Drain the asparagus and immediately transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again, dry with a kitchen towel, and set aside.

Cook the rice: Return the pan to medium-high heat and bring to a strong simmer. Add the rice, adjust the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is cooked through and tender, about 18 minutes.

Finish the soup: Whisk the eggs, yolks, and lemon juice in a medium heatproof bowl to blend. Whisking constantly, slowly ladle about 2 cups of the hot broth into the egg mixture. Continue whisking until the egg-and-broth mixture is uniform, then pour it into the pot with the rest of the broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until the soup thickens slightly and wisps of steam appear, about 5 minutes (do not allow the soup to simmer or boil). Add the asparagus tips, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, to heat the asparagus through, about 1 minute longer.

Serve the soup: Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve immediately, garnished with lemon slices.

Because of the egg, avgolemono thickens a lot as it cools, and can be tricky to reheat. If you have leftovers that you want to warm up, use super-low heat so you don’t curdle the egg, and gently whisk in a little extra stock to loosen the consistency if you need to.

Notes from Colette:

I found that using just the tips of the asparagus wasn't enough, so I cut some of the spears, although not the entire pound and a half--probably about 6 spears. This soup is a exceptionally pretty shade of yellow if you use farm eggs.

Adam Reid writes that in season he uses corn, zucchini, leeks or spinach in place of the asparagus. I imagine they'd all be good, but I think asparagus and lemon are particularly good together.

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