Saturday, April 11, 2009


Every Easter, I make this Greek Easter lamb soup. Traditionally, Mageiritsa is prepared on Holy Saturday. This soup my all time favorite (probably because it’s a once-a-year treat)! It has such a rich, unique flavor that comes from the lamb stock. The egg and lemon mixture adds depth of flavor, and gives it the look of a cream-based soup without the use of any cream at all. Delicious!

The trickiest part of preparing this dish is tempering the egg and lemon mixture and adding it to the soup.
Tempering is the process of adding a cooler liquid to a hotter one (usually containing eggs) to prevent curdling. The tempering process is very important to keep the egg from cooking into stringy shreds—it should be smooth and well blended. McHubby usually helps me with this step of the preparation. I whisk-whisk-whisk like a mad woman while he slowly adds a few ladlefuls to my bowl. I know it’s enough when the bowl is warm to the touch. Then he keeps the liquid moving, stirring with a wooden spoon, as I slowly add the mixture to the pot.

Adapted from: Mageiritsa, The Food and Wine of Greece

Lamb stock:
10 to 12 cups water
Lamb bones (for making stock)
1 yellow onion, unpeeled, quartered
20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
20 sprigs fresh dill
8 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled, crushed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Lamb stock
¼ cup olive oil
6 to 7 scallions, finely chopped
1 pound boneless lamb, shredded or finely chopped
1 to 1 ½ cups chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
½ cup chopped fresh fennel
1 to 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
⅓ cup long-grain rice
2 to 3 large eggs, at room temperature
Strained fresh juice of 1 to 2 large lemons
Freshly ground pepper

Bring water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Add lamb bones and remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. Return stock to the pot.

Add shredded lamb, herbs, fennel, and lemon zest to the pot. Add more water, if necessary, and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes. Add rice and continue simmering until soft.

In the meantime, in a medium-sized bowl, beat together egg and lemon juice until frothy. Very slowly add 4 to 5 ladlefuls (2 to 3 cups) of hot soup to egg mixture, until egg is tempered, beating vigorously with a whisk to keep egg from curdling. Pour egg mixture into pot and stir well with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 1 minute, but don’t allow to boil or egg will curdle. Serve hot, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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