Lemon-Egg Soup with Quinoa

When I was in Peru, I learned all about quinoa: where it's grown in the mountains and how it's eaten throughout the country. One of the best dishes I sampled there was a simple but tasty soup that had chopped vegetables and was thickened with eggs and evaporated milk. My mind immediately imagined using quinoa in avgolemono, a creamy lemon-egg-orzo soup that's served in Greece but also throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. This recipe became my perfect marriage of the two and is one of my go-to weeknight meals. Here, I use quinoa instead of orzo for a bit of protein, add a few more aromatics, but keep that signature, silky texture and bright lemony flavor.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

1 small red onion, cut into 4 to 8 pieces depending on food processor size

1 jalapeno, halved or quartered, some ribs and seeds removed for milder flavor

2 to 3 garlic cloves

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

1 cup raw quinoa

2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

1 (2-inch) piece of lemon peel

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Small handful of cilantro, parsley, or chives, finely chopped, for garnish

Directions

  1. To the bowl of a food processor, add the red onion, jalapeno, and garlic cloves. Process until finely chopped.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven or large pot with a lid over medium heat. Add olive oil and the chopped vegetables with a little salt to draw out the moisture. Sweat these out for 4 to 5 minutes, until the red onion is translucent.
  3. Add the quinoa to the pot and toast for a minute or two, stirring frequently. Add the stock, bay leaf, and lemon peel and bring up to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer covered for 20 minutes, until the quinoa is fully cooked. Remove from the heat.
  4. In an electric mixer or in a bowl with a whisk, whisk the egg whites until they have tripled in volume and are foamy. Whisk egg yolks together. Fold or very gently whisk yolks and lemon juice into the beaten whites. Ladle some of the hot (not boiling) soup into the egg mixture, whisking at the same time. You want to bring the eggs up to temperature without scrambling, so continue to add ladlefuls of soup until the temperature of the egg mixture is the same as the soup. Add the egg mixture back into the soup and stir for a minute or two to incorporate and create an even, creamy texture. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the fresh herbs. I think cilantro is the most complementary herb here, but go with what you love best.

Cook’s Note

This soup is a fast one. If you so happen to have cooked quinoa on hand, this will take you less than 10 minutes and still be bright and flavorful. This soup actually tastes best the same day, but if you are making it ahead of time, it's best to add the eggs and lemon at the last minute for optimal flavor and texture. You can still reheat the soup--you just want to do it slowly (on low heat) to prevent the eggs from curdling.