Creamy Egg & Lemon Soup with Meatballs

I wanted to share this with you yesterday, but when I woke up in the morning, I was queasy.

Now, sometimes that just happens when I wake up (though usually from a nap), so I puttered around, getting ready for the day and all, while trying not to think too much about my stomach. Breakfast was prosas biezputra (millet porridge) with a mushroom omelet and my now-usual iced coffee. (I love my husband’s omelets. He’s the only one who can cook an omelet that I will not only willingly eat but actively look forward to.)

Writing about food when you’re feeling queasy is not fun. In fact, it only stopped once my husband gave me one of his antacids to try, since I was snacking a lot more than my usual half apple. Lo and behold, the nausea stopped. I was able to cook dinner and finally, I felt well enough to sit down and begin writing this post.

In honor of feeling generally bad all day and wishing for a good soup I didn’t have to cook or fight with the microwave to defrost, I’ll share with you a recipe I made last week. It’s a take on a classic Greek avgolemono soup with tiny, fluffy meatballs that soak up the deliciousness and explode on your tongue like concentrated stars.

The original called for lamb and I agree – ground lamb here would be divine. But it’s expensive and hard to get in my town unless I get lucky with the sales, so I used some leftover ground pork which turned out to be delicious. Often avgolemono soups are not very good reheated the next day but this one was pretty good albeit without the wonderful mouthfeel of the original.

Creamy Egg & Lemon Soup with Meatballs [printable recipe]

Adapted from Sunset
Serves 4 to 6

Meatballs:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • zest of 1 whole small lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, minced or 1 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb ground pork or lamb
  • oil for frying

Soup:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I recommend using 4 tsp of Vegetable Bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup arborio, sushi or other short-grain rice
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • large strips of zest from 1 lemon – use a peeler or knife
  • juice of 2 small lemons (about 1 1/2 ounces)

Making the Meatballs
Combine 1 beaten egg, milk, panko, garlic, lemon zest, mint, parsley, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and let it rest for a few minutes so that the panko can begin to soak up the milk. Add the ground meat by crumbling it in your hands into the bowl, then mix everything together thoroughly.

Form tiny meatballs – about 1/2″ to 3/4″ in diameter or 10 g each by weight – and set aside. In a large, preferably cast-iron skillet, heat about a tablespoon of oil over moderate heat. Fry the meatballs in batches, being careful not to overcrowd, until golden brown and remove to a dish.

Making the Soup
In a medium pot, bring both broths and strips of zest to a simmer. Add the rice and cover partially, simmering for about 20 minutes until the rice is al dente. Remove the zest ribbons and discard. Add the meatballs and return to a simmer then remove from the heat.

Whisk the three eggs together well in a large bowl then whisk in the lemon juice. Slowly pour in about 1/2 cup of the soup, whisking constantly.1 Repeat four times. Pour the egg-broth mixture into the soup and serve immediately.2

I recommend serving this soup with a small salad and a slice of crusty bread to sop up the last drops.

Notes:

  1. This is called tempering the eggs. If you add the eggs into the hot soup, they will curdle. By adding hot liquid slowly into the eggs while whisking, we can control the temperature and prevent the eggs from getting too hot too fast. It seems kind of finicky but it’s necessary and will result in a deliciously creamy soup.
  2. If it isn’t hot enough for you, you can gently rewarm it over low heat but DO NOT allow it to simmer or boil. The eggs will curdle and all that hard work you did tempering will be for naught.

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