Mushroom "Avgolemono" Soup

“Avgolemono” means egg (avgo) and lemon, and it is a technique used in many Greek dishes to thicken but also flavor a liquid cooking medium, like a broth. This soup is a vegetarian alternative to the traditional soup we eat on Easter Saturday night "Magiritsa", which features livers and intestines and essentially marks the end of the fasting period.

· Broth: Use the mushroom stems, celery stalks, parsley and other herb stems, onion, bay leaves, whatever you use in a vegetable stock. Simmer for 30 minutes and drain. Discard solids. Start with about 4 lt of water and quite a lot of vegetables, the more the merrier, the flavor will be more intense. You can keep remaining stock for a few days in the fridge and several months in the freezer.

· Mushrooms: In a very hot non-stick pan, with very little oil, or not at all if your pan is good sear the mushrooms for 1 – 2 minutes. This is an important step for both texture and flavor so do not bypass it. If using oil drain on kitchen paper

· Soup: Finely cut leek, fennel and garlic. Sauté in a pot over medium to high heat, first the leek and fennel, and the garlic seconds before deglazing with white wine. Add the stock and seared mushrooms, turn heat down, put a lid on and simmer for about 30 minutes.

· Extra Vegetables: In the last few minute add thin strips of white cabbage, and thinly sliced spring onion, to just soften them slightly.

· “Avgolemono”: I will describe the easiest way to make it, but keep in mind that there are various alternatives. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add the lemon juice. Take half a cup of the soup liquid and slowly add to the bowl whisking constantly. Return the egg-lemon-soup mixture to the pot, that should be on very low heat, or not at all if too hot (it takes some experience to know the right temperature), slowly and whisking constantly to avoid splitting. After a few minutes it should start to thicken and turn white. If you have to much liquid in the soup you might need to use corn flour to fully bring it together. When ready add chopped parsley and dill, and adjust seasoning, with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if necessary.

Quantities are indicative of 3 generous portions:

1 kg white button mushrooms cut in 1,5 cm thickness, or even better to mix 500 gr white button with 500 gr of any other or more than one variety.

Leek, 1 large

Fennel, 1 small

Garlic, 3 cloves

White Wine, 1/3 cup

Stock, about 2 lt, it will depend on the size pf the pot you will use. You don’t not want too much liquid, so it is best to start with less, just enough to cover the mushrooms and add gradually if it looks like it is drying out.

Cabbage, ½ small

Spring Onions, 5 stalks

Eggs, 2 pcs

Lemon Juice, start with 50 ml, and adjust at the end.

(Corn Flour, 1-2 tbsp)