Avgolemono or egg-lemon (from Greek: αυγολέμονο or αβγολέμονο), is a family of Mediterranean sauces and soups made with egg and lemon juice mixed with broth, heated until they thicken. In Arabic, it is called tarbiya or beida bi-lemoune ‘egg with lemon’; and in Turkish terbiye. In Sephardic Jewish cuisine, it is called agristada or salsa blanco, and in Italian cuisine, bagna brusca, brodettato, or brodo brusco. It is also widely used in Balkan cuisine.
As a sauce, it is used for warm dolma, for vegetables like artichokes, and for stew-like dishes where the egg-lemon mixture is used to thicken the cooking juices, such as the Greek Pork with Celery and the Turkish Yuvarlak. In some Middle Eastern cuisines, it is used as a sauce for chicken or fish. Among Italian Jews, it is served as a sauce for pasta or meat.
As a soup (Avgolemono Chicken Soup), it usually starts with chicken broth, though meat (usually lamb), fish, or vegetable broths are also used. Typically, rice, orzo, pastina, or tapioca are cooked in the broth before the mixture of eggs and lemon is added. Its consistency varies from near-stew to near-broth. It is often served with pieces of the meat and vegetables reserved from the broth. Magiritsa Soup is a Greek avgolemono soup of lamb offal served to break the fast of Great Lent.
The soup is usually made with whole eggs; sometimes with just yolks. The whites may be beaten into a foam separately before mixing with the yolks and lemon juice, or whole eggs may be beaten with the lemon juice. The starch of the pasta or rice contributes to stabilising the emulsion.
History of Avgolemono
Egg-lemon sauce may originally be a Sephardic Jewish dish. Agristada was made by Jews in Iberia before the expulsion from Spain with verjuice, pomegranate juice, or bitter orange juice, but not vinegar. In later periods, lemon became the standard souring agent.
- 2-3 eggs, separated
- 1 tablespoon of water
- juice of 2-3 lemons
- broth from the dish being cooked (or hot beef or chicken broth or stock)
- Beat the egg whites until foamy.
- Beat in egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and 2-3 ladlesful of broth, beating (or whisking) continuously.
- Add the avgolemono sauce to the dish being cooked, stir, cover with a towel for 10 minutes, and serve.