ROOTS & TRADITIONS
In Sephardic Jewish cuisine, avgolemono was called agristada, or salsa blanca. Due to a strict kosher diet prohibiting dairy, agristarda grew out of necessity, utilizing eggs as a thickening agent. It was known as “the cornerstone of Sephartic cooking.” It was originally made with verjuice, pomegranate juice, or bitter orange juice. During the Middle Ages, the Sukkot festival popularized citrus cultivation and lemons became the standard acidic ingredient. When the Iberian Jews were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition, they brought agristada with them to Greece.
Today, avgolemono, or “egg-lemon” in Greek, is used to define a whole category of soups made with eggs, lemon, and broth. The broth can be made from meat, fish, or vegetables. All ingredients are emulsified to make a thick, creamy, tangy sauce. In Greece, the sauce can be used to thicken soups and stews such as psarosoupa avgolemono (fish soup), magiritsa (lamb offal soup made for Easter), prasoselino soupa (leek and celery soup), patsa (tripe soup) or yuvarlakia (meatball soup). It is also used in a variety of dishes such as dolmas, artichokes, and roast meats. The standard chicken soup called soupa avgolemono or kotosoupa avgolemono is thought to be gentle on the stomach and is a traditional way to break the Yom Kippur fast.
Traditionally, Avgolemono is made to heal any sickness. It’s packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Vitamin C from the lemons contributes to hydrating, aids digestion, and is loaded with antioxidants for an immune boost.
Prep Time: 10–15 min
Cook Time: 15–20 min
4 cups chicken broth, or lamb, fish, vegetable broths, or make your own
4 cups cooked orzo, or rice, couscous, or tapioca
4 eggs, small pasture-raised for optimal taste, separate yolks, and whites
2–4 lemons, depending on your desired acidity level
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 small can artichokes (6.5oz)
Fresh herbs such as mint, tarragon, or chives
ADD-ON’S FOR HUNGRY CROWD
Chicken — rotisserie
1. Add broth to a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer. Once the broth is hot, add orzo (and chicken, if using). Bring to a simmer and let cook until desired thickness.
2. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then mix with yolks and lemon juice. Add a small amount of the broth to the egg mixture while whisking to temper the eggs and avoid curdling. Then gently add the broth mixture to the tempered eggs while whisking.
3. Add other ingredients, if desired, including meat and vegetables reserved from homemade broth.
I’m Callie, and I’m the Founder & CEO of Nonna Eats, a Boulder (CO) startup dedicated to fostering community through food. I have experience running a variety of culinary teams, as well as web design and branding.
About this publication
This is a series of stories about reclaiming the art of eating and gathering. Through working with the highest quality chefs and producers, we know how to eat well. If you’d like to read more, please follow. Originally posted on nonnaeats.com.