Recipe: Spinach and Lemon Soup with Orzo
This soup is a riff on the Greek avgolemono: a delicious concoction of beaten eggs and lemon juice, whisked into broth and cooked just enough to thicken. While I borrowed the egg and lemon motif, I also added spinach used orzo instead of the rice.
This soup has one other curious feature. It really is a pasta and a soup in one — a two’fer.
See, when you reheat the leftovers, the orzo will thicken even more and the egg will expand so much that you’re left with a bowl of creamy, lemony, spinach pasta. Which is not such a bad thing, really.
Of course, what’s really happening is the eggs are curdling when reheated. This is unavoidable in a soup like this, and we really don’t mind. In fact, the thick, creamy orzo we ate on the second night was delicious and reminiscent of risotto.
But a fair warning: If you just want soup, eat it all the first night, or whisk the eggs and lemon juice into just half a batch, and repeat on the next night.
This soup is so comforting and satisfying, yet light-tasting at the same time. I love the fact that you can use either orzo pasta or rice if you want to go with a more authentic Greek soup. It definitely makes a big batch that will feed a crowd — especially if you assemble a crisp Greek salad to serve on the side.
– Christine, January 2016
Spinach and Lemon Soup with Orzo
- 2 tablespoons
garlic cloves, smashed or minced
large onion, diced
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
red pepper flakes
(10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
- 1 1/2 cups
orzo pasta or long-grain rice
- 2 quarts
(8 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
Juice of 3 medium lemons
Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until fragrant and slightly translucent. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the red pepper flakes, spinach, and orzo or rice. Cook for about a minute, then add the broth.
Bring to a light simmer, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the orzo is just barely tender. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool down for a moment or two.
Whisk eggs vigorously in a large bowl, then whisk in the lemon juice. Whisk for a couple minutes; the mixture should be thick, pale yellow, and creamy. Add a small ladleful of the soup broth to the eggs and whisk vigorously. (If you want to be really sure not to curdle the eggs, take a ladle of soup and cool it a bit before tempering the eggs.) Whisk in two more ladles of soup broth, whisking each well and letting them cool.
Add the egg mixture to the soup pot, whisking very well. Return to very low heat, stirring the whole time. Cook carefully over low heat until the soup has thickened slightly. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and Parmesan if desired.