My Greek-Cypriot husband made it for me that first time during our university days in Vienna as international students.
He used the recipe he found in an old Cypriot cookbook and struggled a bit with the decidedly vague instructions, but managed to make a success of it as far as I was concerned. I gobbled it up.
Since that first time enjoying it, this soup has been a mainstay of our family menu planning.
I also substituted brown rice for the white originally called for to make it somewhat healthier, and added the spinach for color and as a vegetable to create a balanced meal in one pot.
I find that the spinach and the lemon complement each other deliciously.
I should mention that the broth of this soup is traditionally made by boiling a chicken and serving it on the side with the soup. However, my husband actually prefers this vegetarian adaptation of making it with vegetable bouillon.
A number of years ago, he opted to reduce the meat in his diet, and this is one way we achieve that.
It also streamlines the process, in addition to making this a dirt cheap meal. Even when it's made with chicken - bought on sale, of course - it's still a very economical meal and will come in at well under $2 per serving.
In fact, this meal is one of the most economical you can make, and also one of the easiest to prepare. As is, this recipe makes about 8-10 hearty servings at a cost of only about $5-$6, or about 60-75¢ per serving. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that.
When served with a nice tossed salad and some garlic or fresh bread, the cost still comes in at little more than $1 per serving. That’s a bargain by any measure.
The prep time is only about 10 minutes, and the total start to finish time is around 40 minutes.
A great meal in every way, and one I’m sure you and your family will enjoy for years to come.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 8-10 hearty servings
Prep Time - Approximately 10 minutes
Start to finish meal time - Approximately 40 minutes
Per person recipe cost - approximately 75¢
Total per person meal cost with salad and garlic or fresh bread - Approx. $1.25
15 cups of water
4-5 vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes or 3-4 teaspoons salt
1 cup brown rice
2- 4 lemons, or ½ cup of bottled juice
10-16 ounce box or bag of frozen spinach
½ teaspoon pepper
Additional salt and lemon to taste
Recipe continues below pictures.
- Measure the 15 cups water into a large pot. Add the 4-5 bouillon cubes or the 3-4 teaspoons of salt and the 1 cup of brown rice, cover and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 35 minutes. Set a timer to remind yourself.
- While the soup broth and rice are cooking, place the spinach in a microwavable container, if necessary, and microwave it on medium power (5-7) for about 3 minutes. Set the spinach aside.
- Wash the 2-4 lemons. Roll them firmly under the heel of your hand on the counter or other hard surface to soften them and loosen the juices. Cut them in half crosswise. Place each half on a juicer, press hard and rotate vigorously to release the juice. Pour the juice into a measuring cup, straining out any seeds. Repeat the process with as many of the lemons as you need to make about 1/2 cup of juice. A little more is okay, too.
- Or simply measure out 1/2 cup of the bottled lemon juice.
- When the rice is done to taste (about 35 minutes) remove the pan from direct heat.
- Break the 10-12 eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk or beat them with a fork to blend the whites and yolks.
- Pour the lemon juice into the egg mixture and whisk briskly for 1 minute or so, until the eggs are somewhat frothy, and the mixture is well blended.
- Add the egg-lemon mixture to the soup broth, whisking or beating continuously until the eggs are blended with the broth.
- Return the soup to low heat and continue stirring until the eggs are cooked, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the thawed spinach and the ½ teaspoon of pepper (or to taste). Cover and heat through, stirring occasionally. Taste test and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Keep the soup covered until ready to serve.
- Serve the soup with the tossed salad and fresh or garlic bread, and more lemon on the side, if desired.