Everyone is getting sick around here. The mayor of Boston declared a health emergency for the flu epidemic, and you can’t go anywhere without seeing people out and about sniffling and spreading the plague. So I’ve been trying to stay in, limit my face time to critical meetings, and exercise outside without meeting up with anyone. Because I’m a hermit at heart, this is admittedly enjoyable.
One of the best ways you can fortify yourself is with soup, so I’ve been drinking copious amounts to ward off the sickness. I’ve now made this liquid health elixir twice this week, and thought finally that I should share it here. Egg Lemon Soup (or sauce) is common in Greek, Turkish, and Jewish cooking – all of which are part of my culinary heritage. Despite this, I have very few memories of my mom or grandmother making this soup, but I do fondly recall ordering it often as a child with my grandparents at the Putterham Deli, which later became Andrea’s and then shuttered before I moved back to New England. The soup was always the first part of a gleeful two part culinary adventure – usually followed by poppy seed hamantaschen and picking up a challah for the sabbath next door at Cheryl Ann’s – and thus is etched in my memory in a positive way. Unlike jello, another sick-person-food, which to this day revolts me.
If you are lazy, tired, or coming down with something, this soup comes together in mere minutes, with ingredients you are likely to have on hand. It’s rich and chicken-y if you use good stock, tart and lemon-y enough, and filling because of the egg. You could add a handful of orzo, rice, or pieces of chicken, but I don’t usually bother. Traditionally you are supposed to temper the eggs by pouring some of the hot chicken stock into the egg mixture first, and whisking vigorously. Then you pour it back into your soup for a silky smooth texture. But I like doing a bastardized version by just heating up my chicken stock, and slowly pouring in my egg mixture while stirring, so that the soup has some intrigue to it, like a finer egg drop soup. It’s seasoned simply with lemon juice and fish sauce rather than salt, which I like because it provides a bit more savory depth to the soup.
Not So Traditional Egg Lemon Soup for 1
2 eggs, whisked
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon Red Boat Fish Sauce (more for salt and funk, less if your stock has salt already)
1 – 2 cups chicken stock, preferably home made
optional: a small handful of orzo, leftover roasted chicken, some dill, a sprinkling of lemon zest
In a small bowl, whisk together two eggs, the juice of half a lemon, and some fish sauce. I like using a few good glugs. It’ll smell funky, like fish sauce, but don’t worry. Set aside. In a small saucepan on medium high heat, bring your chicken stock to a simmer. (If you’d like to add some pieces of chicken, or a small handful of orzo, do so here, and cook until warmed or cooked through.) Turn down the heat to medium-low, and start slowly whisking in the egg mixture. It’ll look like egg drop soup, then suddenly fluff up. Take off the heat, pour into a bowl, and savor immediately. If you feel compelled to gussy it up, go ahead and sprinkle on some parsley or lemon zest. I rarely feel the need to.