Avgolemono is a family of
Mediterranean sauces and soups made with egg and lemon juice mixed
with broth, heated until they thicken. Avgolémono 'egg-lemon'
is the Greek name; 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, 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.
Leftover soup will invariably curdle.
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
stabilizing the emulsion.
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.