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Avgolemeno Soup with Mini-Meatballs


After a few weeks of holiday food, I feel ready for a detox. I want light food, but since the weather remains kind of chilly, I want that “something light” to still be warm and nourishing.

This avgolemeno soup with mini-meatballs fits the bill perfectly. The broth is bright and punchy from the lemon. The texture is silky smooth from the egg yolks and the blended rice. The toothsome meatballs are delightfully dill-scented. And the soup is also a cinch to make — which feels refreshing after all those complex holiday recipes.

This recipe is adapted from one by Grace Parisi that appeared in Food and Wine.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of long grain white rice

3 cups of water

Salt

1 pound of very lean ground beef

Freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup of white onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh dill, finely chopped

All-purpose flour

5 cups of chicken broth

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

Special equipment:

A hand-held immersion blender

How to prepare:

1. In a large Dutch oven, cover the rice with 3 cups of water. Season with salt. Bring everything up to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the rice until it is tender — about 15 minutes.

2. In the meanwhile, use your hands to combine the ground beef with the onion, the parsley, and the dill. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

3. When the rice is done, drain the grains in a colander. Return the Dutch oven to the stove top. Heat the chicken broth in it over medium-high heat. When the broth starts to simmer, lower the heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice to the chicken broth.

4. In a separate bowl, temper the egg yolks by whisking them together with a ladleful of hot broth. Whisk the tempered yolks into the rest of the chicken broth. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend about half of the drained rice into the broth until the soup is smooth and frothy. Adjust the seasoning.

5. Raise the heat so that the soup comes back up to a simmer. Carefully skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

6. Dust the meatballs with flour. Knock off any excess flour before adding them to the soup. Simmer the meatballs until they are cooked through, about 8 minutes or so. You may need to continue to skim the surface while the meatballs cook. When the meatballs are done, add the remaining rice to the soup. Adjust the seasoning again.

Serve with sprigs of dill.

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