Margheritsa is a traditional soup made by Greeks for Orthodox Easter. It contains cleaned intestines, organs of the lamb or goat and may contain sweetbreads and even the boiled head of the animal. The meat is boiled until softened and a stock is created. Spring onions, herbs are added and the soup is finished off/thickened with an egg/lemon mixture (Avgolemono).
This soup is often served upon return from the Megalo Savato/Anastasi church service and it is often the first taste of meat for those that fasted for the entirely of Great Lent. Magheritsa is a logical dish to eat after the long fasting period – ease your belly from a fast to feast. Magheritsa is a transitional dish – the feast of Easter Sunday awaits later in the day.
Now thing about Magheritsa is that involves alot of work in cleaning the intestines, not everyone salivates at the thought of eating offal soup and in recent times, some jurisdictions have outlawed the sale of certain offal to the public. I still love the traditional Magheritsa but I felt the need to make a version that looked traditional, tasted traditional and did not exclude anyone from this Greek Easter tradition.
My solution is to use lamb meat (bone-in) to recreate an “easier to prepare” Magheritsa and one that can be enjoyed by all at the Easter Sunday table. A bowl of this fabulous take on Magheritsa will be waiting for me when I return from church just after midnight Easter Sunday.
1 1/2 kg. of lamb shoulder (or other cuts like shank, ribs, necks)
enough water to cover the meat (about 3 litres)
1/4 cup olive oil
12 scallions, sliced
1/2 head of romaine lettuce, finely chopped
1/2 bunch finely chopped dill
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup long grain rice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 fresh chopped dill
- Rinse your lamb pieces and place in a large pot or pressure cooker and cover with enough water to just cover. Add about Tbsp. of sea salt and cover. If using a conventional pot, cover and bring to a boil then lower and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until the meat falls off the bone. A more timely method is to use a pressure cooker and cut your time to just 1 hour. Remove from the heat, adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove meat and pull off the bone, remove any fat and cartilage and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces.
- In another large pot, add the olive oil over medium heat and add your scallions lettuce and sweat for 5-6 minutes or until softened. Now add the your hot stock, meat, rice, parsley, dill and bring up to a boil then lower to medium and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
- In the meantime, crack your eggs in a bowl and add the juice of 2 lemons and whisk until just frothy. Once the rice is cooked in the soup, remove from the heat and slowly add hot stock into your bowl of egg and lemon while whisking. While whisking add about 4-5 more ladles to temper and the heat of the egg/lemon mixture.
- Pour the tempered egg/lemon mixture back into the soup pot, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and add the remaining 1/2 cup fresh dill. Serve with a wedge of lemon, good crusty bread. Christos Anesti! (Christ has risen!)
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