An egg-broth with rice is finished with a bright splash of lemon juice to make Avgolemono a simple, light Greek soup.
Many Mediterranean cultures have their own version of avgolemono (translated as “egg-lemon”), an ancient soup that may have origins with the Sephardic Jews of Iberia. It began as a simple lemony sauce to serve over dolma or other vegetable dishes, but thinning it out with chicken stock or vegetable broth and adding a little rice makes a mild and satisfying soup characteristic of Greek cuisine.
As a sauce, avgolemono is most closely associated with hollandaise, as it is thickened with beaten eggs to form a light emulsion. Because the soup has its beginnings as a sauce, its thickness can be easily adjusted by the beating of the eggs and rice and by the quantity of stock added. If you wish to serve it as a soup, be aware of overwhisking after adding the eggs else you could be well on your way to a custard.
Chicken stock is traditional as is lamb or fish stock, although vegetable broth or a blend can be used to preference. Rice is the easiest addition to add bulk (the starch of the rice also serves to stabilize the thickening abilities of the egg) but small pasta like orzo, stelline, fideo, risoni or even small precooked dumplings can be used just as well. Classically, the egg whites can be separated and beaten to soft peaks, then folded into the soup for additional thickening and texture.
Avgolemono can be used as a customizable base, and cooked lamb or shredded chicken can be added with vegetables for a more substantial meal, or larger (cooked) pasta such as penne or rigatoni. The lemon at the finish is the preferred souring agent but pomegranate or bitter orange juice would not be historically inaccurate. (Avoid vinegar as it would likely curdle the eggs.)
Serve hot in a small bowl as an early appetizer to a larger Greek feast.
4 c chicken stock
½ c rice
1 T lemon juice
1 Bring the stock to a boil and add the rice. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 min.
2 Whisk the eggs and lemon juice together and temper with the hot stock. Add the warmed egg mixture to the stock while still whisking until smooth and slightly thickened.
3 Season to taste, and finish with parsley.