Lobster Avgolemono
from Lydia Shire

Serves 6 to 8

Lobster Avgolemono  

"This is probably my second favorite soup in the world," says Lydia, never revealing her first choice. But no matter, this soup stands on its own.

At first, it resembles the classic Greek soup of the same name, but then it doesn't, because Lydia has taken this simple peasant preparation and turned it into something else entirely—something familiar and comforting, yet outlandishly rich, even exotic.

She retains the lemon, of course, as well as the chicken stock and egg yolk essential to the original and both umami loaded. To that she adds lobster, potato, and tomato, which not only build on the umami, but also introduce new dimensions of flavor, texture, acidity, and pure luxury.

The key to success with this soup is never to let it get too hot once the eggs are in. Follow this rule and you will get a thick, creamy, almost custard-like broth. Also, Lydia says, if you do not have homemade broth, use canned. The flavor just won't be quite as rich or deep.

3 Maine lobsters, 1 to 1-1/4 pounds each
2 quarts homemade chicken stock
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1 large yellow Spanish onion, diced
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus additional for serving
8 small, skin-on red bliss potatoes, diced 1/2-inch
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped garlic chives or regular chives, for garnish

1. Cook the lobsters in rapidly boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Remove and shock in ice water. Take all the meat from claw and tail shells and reserve.

2. In a stockpot or large saucepan, simmer the chicken stock with the lobster bodies. Do not remove the coral or tomalley as they contribute to the flavor of the soup. Add chopped fresh tomatoes (if using). Reduce until you are left with 1 quart of stock. Strain and discard the solids.

3. In separate saucepan, sauté the onion in 4 tablespoons butter until soft. Add the diced potatoes. Pour in the reduced stock and simmer until potatoes are just done al dente, about 15 minutes.

4. Cut the lobster meat into large chunks and sauté in 2 tablespoons butter until heated through, then add to the soup.

5. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the lemon juice. Ladle 1 cup of the hot liquid slowly into yolk mixture while stirring. Then pour the mixture back into soup. Stir continuously; bring just to the boiling point, but do not boil.

6. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, add a small nugget of butter into each. Sprinkle with the chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Buy the Book  

The Fifth Taste: Cooking with Umami
by Anna and David Kasabian
Hardcover; $27.50; CAN $39.95
ISBN: 0-7893-1356-1
Recipe reprinted by permission


The Fifth Taste: Cooking with Umami



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