Lemons: The culinary gold of Greece

From city apartments to island homes, it’s a safe bet that all kitchens in Greece will always have at least one ingredient in common: the lemon. Abundant in these ancient isles, lemons have been used in Greek cooking since at least the first century, contributing to everything from savory sauces to sweet desserts. Two millennia later, the golden fruit remains prized not only by Yia Yias (grandmothers) cooking comfort food, but also by chefs capitalizing on the current embrace of healthy cuisine, as you’ll discover throughout our Turkish Coastal Voyage, Treasures of the Aegean; or Hidden Gems of the Dalmatian Coast & Greece Small Ship Cruise Tours.


Avgolemono (Egg-lemon) Two Ways: Soup & Sauce

One of the most beloved Greek food pairings is the luscious blend of egg delicately flavored with lemon juice. Avgolemono is the name for both a soup and a sauce with similar ingredients. Both feature dairy and citrus emulsified into broth to yield a texture reminiscent of a cream sauce, but with a bright, tangy flavor. And they’re both simple to make: the soup, a meal in itself, requires just four ingredients besides salt and pepper, while the sauce requires only three, and makes a perfect accompaniment to chicken, fish, or rice.

Soup Ingredients:

8 cups chicken stock
1 cup orzo or rice
4 eggs, separated
Juice of 3 lemons
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup chicken stock
3 eggs, separated
Juice of 3 lemons
Salt & pepper to taste

Soup Preparation

  1. Bring broth to a boil.
  2. Add orzo or rice. Simmer 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. While the orzo simmers, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form.
  4. Maintaining a steady stream, whisk the egg yolks and the lemon juice into the whites, making a creamy sauce.
  5. When rice is cooked, ladle two cups of the broth into a measuring cup with a good spout for pouring. Slowly pour this broth into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs into solids.
  6. When all the broth has been added and thoroughly incorporated, pour the liquid back into the cooking pot, whisking to incorporate with the orzo and existing liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sauce Preparation

  1. Bring the cup of broth to a boil.
  2. While the broth heats, whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.
  3. Maintaining a steady stream, whisk the egg yolks and the lemon juice into the whites, making a creamy sauce.
  4. Slowly pour the broth into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs into solids. If the sauce is not liquid enough for your liking, whisk in a tablespoon of warm water.
  5. When sauce is desired consistency, add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle over meat or rice.

Serves: 4-6