Arganak (Armenian chicken soup with meatballs)
Prep Time: 20 minutes + time to prepare the chicken broth
Cook Time: 20 minutes + time to make the chicken broth
Keywords: boil saute soup/stew gluten-free nut-free low-carb soy-free sugar-free egg yolk onion broth beef Armenian
Ingredients (serves 4-5)
- 1 tablespoon / 14 g butter
- 1 1/2 ounces / 42 g onion, minced
- 9 ounces / 250 g ground raw beef 85% lean, 15 % fat
- 3/4 ounce / 20 g smoked ham, minced
- 1 ounce / 30 g raw pork sausage meat
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 ounce / 15 g freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 4 cups / 950 ml chicken broth, possibly homemade; I use my homemade chicken stock/broth
- 2 large egg yolks from pastured poultry
- Prepared meatballs
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml fresh lemon juice
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley as topping
If you make your own chicken broth, which I recommend, you need to do that the day before making arganak, so it has time to chill overnight in the refrigerator and you can defat it before using it.
Melt the butter in a small skillet and add the minced onion. Stir well and cook gently until the onion is soft, 10 minutes or so, stirring often.
Pour the egg yolks into a small bowl and whisk them lightly with a fork. (Later you will add some broth to the yolks, so choose a bowl that can accommodate more than just the yolks.) Set aside.
Place the remaining ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Note that the original recipe for the meatballs uses only beef and adds cooked rice. Due to family dietary requirements, I cannot use rice. Ham, sausage and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano are my contributions to the meatballs' flavor profile.
When the onion is ready, add it to the meat and incorporate. With the help of a scale, divide the meat into 16 equal portions (or 20 if you prefer smaller meatballs or you want to serve 5 people) and press each into a small ball.
Pour the broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the meatballs into the boiling broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so (less if you made 20 meatballs), until the meatballs are cooked through.
With a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs from the broth and place them in a bowl. Cover and keep them warm.
Keep the heat under the saucepan very low. Add the lemon juice to it and stir. Take half a ladleful of broth. With one hand very slowly add it to the egg yolks in a thin stream while whisking the mixture with the other hand. Repeat with another half ladleful of broth. Tempering the yolks prevent them from curdling when you add them to the broth.
With one hand very slowly add the diluted egg yolks in a thin stream to the broth while stirring the broth with the other hand. Do not boil the soup. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary.
Put the meatballs back into the soup while you quickly gather the people around the table. Put 4 meatballs in each bowl, add 1 cup / 240 ml broth (less if you are making 5 portions) and finally sprinkle some chopped parsley on top. Serve immediately.
This is a hearty soup, very low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat. If you are not much into meatballs, you can skip that part altogether and follow the rest of the recipe to make lemon and egg soup.