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The Best Recipe: Soups & Stews, Cook's Illustrated Magazine

Serves 6 TO 8

Homemade chicken stock gives this soup the best flavor and body, but in a pinch you can use low-sodium canned broth. The longer the final soup cooks after the eggs have been added, the thicker it becomes. About 5 minutes of heating produces a soft, velvety texture; any longer and the soup begins to turn pasty. Scallions and fresh mint, individually or together, make simple and flavorful garnishes. Serve the soup immediately; it thickens to a gravylike consistency when reheated.

• 1 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
• 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
• 1 bay leaf
• 4 green cardamom pods, crushed, or 2 whole cloves
• Zest strips from 1½ medium lemons (about twelve 1/2 inch by 4-inch pieces )
• 1½ teaspoons salt
• 2 large eggs, plus 2 yolks, preferably at room temperature
• 1/4 cup juice from zested lemons
• 1 large scallion, sliced thin, and/or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the rice, bay leaf, cardamom, lemon zest, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the rice is tender and the stock is aromatic from the lemon zest, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf, cardamom, and zest strips. Increase the heat to high and return the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

2. Whisk the eggs, yolks, and lemon juice lightly in a medium nonreactive bowl until combined. Whisking constantly, slowly ladle about 2 cups hot stock into the egg mixture; whisk until combined. Pour the egg-stock mixture back into saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until soup is slightly thickened and wisps of steam appear, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not simmer or boil. Divide soup among serving bowls, sprinkle with scallion and/or mint; serve immediately.


This variation, the test kitchen favorite, is based on a Tunisian-style egg-lemon soup.
Follow recipe for Greek Egg-Lemon Soup, substituting one 2-inch stick cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne for cardamom.

Follow recipe for Greek Egg-Lemon Soup, adding a pinch (about 1/4 teaspoon) saffron threads, crushed between fingertips, to stock along with rice, bay leaf, cardamom, zest, and salt.

Diced breast meat makes this soup especially hearty.
Follow recipe for Greek Egg-Lemon Soup, Egg-Lemon Soup with Cinnamon and Cayenne, or Egg-Lemon Soup with Saffron, adding two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 12 ounces total) cut into 1/2-inch cubes to stock along with rice, seasonings, and zest.


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