Avgolemono is a family of eastern Mediterranean sauces and soups made with egg and lemon juice mixed with broth, heated until they thicken but before they boil and curdle. Avgolémono is the Greek name, meaning egg-lemon; in Arabic, it is called tarbiya or beida bi-lemoune ‘egg with lemon’, and in Turkish terbiye.
It is the typical sauce used on warm dolma and many vegetables, especially artichokes. It is part of certain stew-like dishes such as the Greek pork with celery and the Turkish yuvarlak, added just before serving to thicken the cooking juices. In Middle Eastern cuisines, it is used as a sauce for chicken or fish.
As a soup, it usually starts with chicken broth, though meat, fish, or vegetable broths are also used. Typically, rice or soup pasta, such as orzo, are cooked in the broth with thin strips of meat (chicken, for example) before a mixture of eggs and lemon is added. Its consistency varies from near-stew to near-broth. It is important to remove the mixture from the heat before adding the egg-lemon mix, in order to avoid curdling. The safest way to prevent curdling is to remove a cup of broth from the pot and let cool a little, then gradually add the egg and lemon juice while beating the mixture vigorously with a fork or whisk; once the broth is frothy, it is gently added back to the pot and the soup is served immediately. Leftover soup will invariably curdle, even if refrigerated or rewarmed. Its taste will not change but the texture and mouthfeel cannot be recovered.
The soup is usually made with whole eggs; sometimes with just yolks. The whites typically are beaten first until soft peaks form and then the yolks and lemon juice are beaten into the whites until just combined. Whole eggs may also be beaten together without the initial separation. Starch may be added to the soup as an additional thickener, however, it is most often used if one omits the egg whites from the recipe, as the volume from the whipped whites create thickness. (wikipedia)
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup orzo pasta, or rice
4 eggs, separated
Juice of 3 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring stock to a boil and add orzo or rice. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Season stock to taste with salt, if necessary.
2. When the orzo or rice is nearing tenderness, whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until medium peaks. Add egg yolks and lemon juice, whisking continuously.
3. When the orzo or rice is finished, transfer 2 cups of the hot stock to the egg/lemon mixture, adding very slowly in a constant stream and beating vigorously to prevent the eggs from solidifying.
4. Take the soup off the heat and add the beaten mixture back into the pot, whisking to incorporate. Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper.