Gail, a dear and very long-time friend reminded me in an email this morning about how she adores my mother's Greek Egg Lemon Soup. Let me tell you about it and I promise you'll make it!
Every time one of us many children got sick, Mom made her famous hot egg lemon soup. It got so that, as we met our men who became our husbands, she'd make it for them, too, if they felt unwell. Then it got so one who worked way downtown (about an hour in LA traffic) would drive to Mom and Dad's house just so Mom would make him what we all have come to call SICK SOUP. Sad name because it should really be called HEALTHY SOUP! You know what they say about Jewish chicken noodle soup....this is that delicious and healthy but SO much tastier (I promise). Come to think of it this soup also includes lemon as the star surprise ingredient as did my last post on scrambled eggs just below this post. It's an Egypt/Mediterranean thing. Actually, I also have to stop pretending this is Mom's recipe or anything to do with the place she was raised, Cairo, or anything Armenian (my heritage)...I have to give it up and admit this is AGVOLEMONO SOUP, as the Greeks, who probably invented it, call it. They deserve the credit.
Mom's EGG LEMON SOUP...
Heat chicken broth (maybe the size of the smaller Swanson's boxes for 2 people) in a saucepan and throw in a little broken up vermicelli (maybe one cup?) until the vermicelli's cooked (Angel Hair pasta's fine just make sure you break it into roughly 1" pieces first). Turn off the heat.
In a bowl, break one egg and beat it. When the broth isn't quite as hot as it was, take a little bit of the broth and put it in the bowl with the beaten egg in it WHILE YOU KEEP STIRRING/BEATING...this is the key...add only a little at first or you'll get egg drop soup with curdled pieces of egg! Add a tad more broth, and KEEP STIRRING as you keep adding the broth to the egg....when you've got about a cup of broth in with that egg, then start adding that cooled off eggy broth (cooled while beating it with the egg) back into the saucepan VERY gently AND KEEP BEATING! Go back and forth very carefully and slowly, continuing to stir/beat until you've got all the egg/broth mixture into the saucepan.
Now, you've got the lovely broth with the vermicelli and egg perfectly mixed and you won't have egg drop soup (Actually, the first few times, you will get some curdling but even seasoned cooks of this soup have that happen sometimes...no worries, just do your best to make that mixture as smooth and curdle-less as possible...it'll be beautifully smooth and almost look like you'd added cream to it...silky and opaque from the lemon juice and egg.)
Squeeze a fresh lemon and add a bit to that mixture....and some salt...to taste. You can have the heat back on very low during this step but make SURE you keep stirring a little so you don't curdle. If it's just right with the amount of little lemon you added, drink and enjoy. If you're a tart taste lover like I am, add more lemon (which I recommend to get this flavor just right)....keep tasting.... Do not leave out the salt, it really does do a lovely thing to this soup.
I hope you enjoy it... It sounds complicated with the curdling threats but it really isn't so bad the second or third time and you just might get it right the first time...just keep stirring and let the broth cool just a bit before starting the mixing process. I hope it becomes a favorite for you. And, I swear, the combo of chicken broth (satisfying, wholesome protein), lemon (citrus, Vit C) and egg (more protein, silky texture and comfort) works wonders on a cold. By the way, you can use rice instead of vermicelli, just don't use too much of either or it'll be too starchy.
Let me know if you make this........good luck! If you, too, have a special and surprising chicken soup ingredient, let us know!