By Melissa Clark
Avgolemono is a Greek mixture of eggs and lemon that is tangy and silky, and used to thicken sauces and soups. In the United States, most versions of avgolemono soup are loaded with grains of rice and chunks of chicken. In this recipe, a riff of youvarlakia avgolemono, ground chicken and rice are rolled into meatballs and then simmered in the broth, making it heartier without losing the soup’s characteristic shine. Many youvarlakia recipes call for ground beef, and if desired, you can substitute it here. Note that because of the eggs in the broth, leftovers don’t freeze well.
Youvarlakia Avgolemono (Lemon Greek Meatball Soup)
Yield: 4 servings
Total duration: 1 hour
1 pound ground chicken (or ground turkey or beef), very cold
3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
1/4 cup shredded carrots (from about 1 carrot)
1/4 cup uncooked long grain rice, such as basmati or carolina, well rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press or minced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6 cups of chicken broth
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving (optional)
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Mix gently with your hands until well blended.
2. Gently shape mixture into 24 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs hold their shape while cooking.
3. In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add the meatballs to the pan. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. Otherwise, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting heat so broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (Open a meatball to test it.) Remove the pan from the heat.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just blended. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in two more ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
5. Slowly pour the egg-lemon mixture into the pan with the meatballs, stirring gently so as not to break the meatballs. Return the pan to medium-low heat until it begins to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pan boil.) The broth should be silky smooth. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary. (It may need a little salt if you’re starting with an unsalted broth.) Garnish with nutmeg, if desired, and dill, and serve.