Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vegetarian Lemon Orzo Soup

A couple of weeks ago I realized Trader Joe's carries bags of orzo, which was in the back of my mind. I wanted to try it out, but couldn't figure out a good reason. This weekend I decided to pick one up for soup. I had some extra lemons and decided that lemon orzo soup was on the menu. I didn't do research beforehand though and figured I could just use the 2% milk I had at home or powdered milk for the broth. I was pretty surprised when I finally got home and looked up the recipe and realized the milky-colored broth was actually made from a combination of eggs and lemon, as indicated by the real name for it that I hadn't heard before: avgolemono!

I did some searching around online & most of the recipes were made with chicken broth. I wanted to make it vegetarian, so I used way more veggies and spices to add flavor. Using information from these 3 recipes from:, and, I came up with a delicious, filling soup that my boyfriend and I have been savoring all week. The most complicated part of the recipe is tempering the egg and lemon mixture with the broth, but a bit of patience helps make such a delicious and flavorful soup that it's worth taking the time to do it. I also had some plain chicken tender quorn in the freezer, so I tossed a bit in to add in that chicken-y element. Between the quorn and eggs, this soup was not vegan. I'm not really sure how to get the same broth without the egg (although you could just use lemon juice instead) and you can add chicken as well as chicken or veggie broth instead of water.  I personally don't think this soup needs to be served with bread since the orzo adds a lot of carby type foods to the meal, but some people might like a bread to soak up the flavorful broth. Even after rewarmed, this soup still has a nice flavor and thickness. I will definitely be making this easy, bright & lemony flavored soup again!

Vegetarian Lemon Orzo Soup (~6 meal sized servings):

1 medium-large onion, diced
3-4 carrots,cut into half moon slices
5 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup of cut leeks (I used the frozen leeks from Trader Joe's)
5 cloves of garlic (or adjust to taste if you don't like it that much) diced or dried garlic powder to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
8 cups of water
1 cup frozen spinach or a couple of cups of fresh spinach, chopped if not baby spinach
1-2 teaspoons of tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried oregeno, or more to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried dill
2 teaspoons of dried parsley or ~1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste (more salt than pepper in this recipe)
 8 oz dried orzo
juice of 2 lemons
3 eggs
toppings such as: fake chicken-y thing, real chicken & cheese

  1. Prepare veggies. In a stockpot, warm the oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery & leeks to the pot and saute until onions become translucent. 
  2. Add fresh garlic, if using, to pot and continue to cook for about a minute. Add the water, spinach & spices (besides parsley) to the pot. 
  3. Allow the soup to simmer for a while, letting the flavor develop. If using quorn or other frozen/coldish meat things, you can add them in after at least 30 minutes & bring back to a simmer.
  4. In a separate pot, cook the orzo according to directions and then add to soup. 
  5. In a decent sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice. Once well combined, begin tempering the eggs with the simmering broth and adding to the soup once warm enough. 
  6. Allow mixture to reach a simmer again, add parsley and taste. If needed, adjust seasoning, salt & pepper, but the soup should be lemony tasting and you don't want to overpower that!
  7. Remove Bay leaf before serving. Eat alone or top with chicken, cheese, etc.

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