Spinach, Lemon & Egg Drop Soup
Farmers are beginning to bring their first harvests of the season to the weekend markets. One of the earliest vegetables to appear is baby spinach. We’ve already enjoyed it many times this spring – in salads, chopped into omelets and sautéed with garlic. On a recent unseasonably cold spring day I wanted to make some soup to help take the chill out. I decided to make a simple soup by chopping up some spinach, onion and garlic and adding it to chicken stock. But the soup needed something to make it more flavorful and substantial. I could have added some cubed potatoes or perhaps some orzo but I wanted to keep it light and fresh-tasting in keeping with the spring season; I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some eggs.
Many cultures have recipes for soups that contain eggs: Greek Avgolemono, Provencal Garlic Soup, Chinese Egg Drop Soup and Italian Stracciatella to name a few. The Greek and Provencal soups create an emulsion with the eggs resulting in a smooth creaminess, whereas the Chinese and Italian versions pour beaten eggs directly into the hot soup creating wisps of egg that resemble delicate cirrus clouds (or “stracciatelli” which translates to “little rags”). If you’d like you can add a little grated carrot to sweeten the flavor a bit and add a pretty contrast color to the soup. My Spinach, Lemon and Egg Drop Soup can be made in less than 30 minutes and is perfect for a light lunch or served as a first course for a spring dinner.
SPINACH, LEMON & EGG DROP SOUP
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more if necessary)
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups baby spinach, finely chopped
½ cup grated carrot (optional)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 large eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a medium soup pot sauté the onion in the olive oil over low heat until soft, stirring constantly. Do not let the onion brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is soft and fragrant. If the onion or garlic begins to brown carefully add a splash of water to the pot.
Add the shopped spinach and continue stirring and cooking over low heat until the spinach is wilted. If you want to add carrot, sauté it along with the spinach. If necessary, add a little more oil. Sautéing the vegetables will give the soup more depth of flavor but you don’t want the vegetables to stick to the pot or scorch. If the spinach begins to stick, add a little water.
Add the stock and continue simmering over low heat for 20 minutes. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs while you continue stirring the soup – this will cook the eggs and create the delicate little wisps. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately.
For a bit more flavor, feel free to top each serving with some grated cheese or chopped chives.