New techniques: Avgolemono

Firstly, I should apologise for my choice of headline for this new series of blog posts. The classic avgolemono, or egg-lemon sauce, is not in any way a new technique. I’m not calling it so with the intention to mislead, but rather because avgolemono is very new to me.

I’ve decided to start this new feature as a way of becoming more adventurous with my cooking. No matter how much of a dedicated cook you are, it’s hard not to slip into the habit of doing things the same old way. Meal planning and keeping a record of what you eat, even for a short time as I have, can bring to light the repetitive nature of one’s cooking habits. Of course it’s good to have your own style, but I believe that, as it is with language, the broader your vocabulary, the more versatile and interesting home cooking can become.

So today, I made my first ever soup with avgolemono.

Avgolemono is a name given to a family of mediterranean, often Greek, sauces made with ‘tempered’ egg, lemon juice and  stock. I consider it a technique, because avgolemono can be used in a number of different ways, both as a sauce and an ingredient. It is most often used to thicken and add sharpness to soups and stews or as a sauce for dolma, vegetables, fish, light meats and even pasta. Avgolemono is said to have originated from the Sephardic Jewish recipe for Agristada, a similar sauce from Ibirica, originally made with sour pomegranate or bitter orange juice in place of lemon.

The method for making avgolemono is simple, but you must pay attention and have all the ingredients ready before you start otherwise you risk splitting the sauce. Take one egg at room temperature and separate. Lightly whisk the yolk and keep it to one side while you whisk the egg white until it is thick enough to form peaks. Gently whisk the yolk into the white, and as you go, dribble in the juice of half a lemon. Take about 400ml of hot chicken stock and ‘temper’ the egg mixture by steadily dribbling in the hot liquid as you whisk. When the stock is amalgamated, transfer the egg and lemon mixture to your soup, stew, or simply to the stove, and then continue whisking over a low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Be careful not to boil the mixture or it will separate.

I’d like to say that I chose to make my debut avgolemono for a turkey, flageolet bean and brown rice soup because I needed to give my baby girl something warm and curative for her nasty cold. I would be lying though. I made it because I planned to on Wednesday, after reading the recipe for Greek egg and lemon soup with chicken, brown rice and chickpeas on the lovely US food blog Katie at the Kitchen Door. I altered the recipe slightly, because I had turkey escalopes in the fridge that needed to be used (such a cheap and healthy alternative to chicken) and no chickpeas. The fact that my snotty daughter gobbled it all up very happily is a pleasing aside.

Pictured: Greek egg and lemon soup with turkey, brown rice and flageolet beans with celeriac and blue cheese soda bread.


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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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