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I have seen different techniques for adding eggs to soups. They seem to be a polarizing topic - I have known people to find the sight of "raggy" soup disgusting, and I have family members who won't eat a clear soup.

These are the methods I know of, but if you can add to the list, I'd be happy to hear about it.

  • yogurt: Mix egg with yogurt, don't overmix/froth. Pour it in one big glob into the prepared soup the moment you remove it from the heat, stir. Should result in very fine grains distributed perfectly throughout the soup, making it opaque. Sometimes results in big rags floating on top instead.
  • pure egg: Pour slowly a mixed, slightly frothed egg into the soup while stirring vigorously. Should result in big, spongy rags floating in the clear broth.
  • egg and cheese: Mix the egg with finely ground hard cheese (parmesan works best). Slowly drizzle into the broth. Not sure what the perfect result is supposed to look like.
  • egg and flour: This is more of a thickener. Slowly pour it after the soup is removed from the heat. Should result in an even, slightly thickened broth with no visible rags and no fat spots swimming on the soup.
  • emulsified egg. Emulsify egg with oil (or use mayonnaise or hollandaise) and add it to the soup after it has been cooled to serving temperature. Should result in evenly thickened soup without visible rags.

All these are used in a usual "meat, broth and veggies" soup, not a pureed soup or something fancy, although I suspect there are egg methods for those too.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each method? How do they influence texture, richness, rag size, taste? Are there special conditions under which I should prefer one method above the others? Is there a consensus among cooking professionals for which method is to be used with which kind of soup?

Edit

The answers are interesting, but I would like to see more information than a simple list: What type of soup should the method be used with, and why? How does it change taste?

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I decided to kick off the new soup contest week early with this question, hope that we'll see more participation - the prize is worth it. –  rumtscho Jan 31 '12 at 19:24
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The terms "rag size" or "egg rags" are such a turn off when talking about egg and soup. I usually call it "egg ribbons" or "egg blossoms". That sounds way more appetizing ;) –  Jay Jan 31 '12 at 19:30
    
@jay never heard of egg ribbons or blossoms before, does it differ depending on the desired shape? I guess I translated stracciatella too literally. Also, I think only the pure egg (Chinese) version looks like blossoms. –  rumtscho Jan 31 '12 at 19:59

5 Answers 5

In Spain I've mainly seen these following ways of adding eggs to soup:

  • beaten egg: egg must be added at the end of the cooking process. Just pour a beaten egg in the soup/broth/stock, stir, remove from heat and then, cover it for a few minutes.

  • whole egg: same process as the beaten egg but, of course with beating the egg ;) it's good to crush the egg in a bowl prior to the addition to the soup, in order to avoid broken egg yolks.

  • boiled eggs: as well as Poland (as Jacek's reply), we also add boiled eggs to soup. In the spanish case, boiled eggs are finely chopped.

  • egg yolks (as Adam's reply): used to thicken and give more richness to soups. Beat the yolks and off the heat, adding the egg yolk and mix it well with the soup.

  • poached eggs: sometimes even fried, but poached are more common though (nowadays a lot of people make Arzark's eggs, poaching eggs inside a film tape with flavourings to taste and sinking it in boiling water for some minues). Just put in the surface right before serving it. You crash it when you start eating your soup! Delicious!

I hope this helps! :)

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In Poland some soups (notably żurek or a sorrel soup) are served with a hard boiled (separately) egg added.

Żurek with an egg

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In many Asian areas you will find mostly transparent soups and broths including a thin rolled omelette (Tamagoyaki in Japan)

Usually they are sea food based soups, with a variety of solid ingredients added just before serving, including slices of the rolled egg omelette

Sometimes it is a whole slice, sometimes slices from a slice off the roll

enter image description here

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I've added egg yolks to soup as an enrichment/thickening technique. This is done just before serving, after the soup is off the heat (or even after it has been transferred to a soup tureen). Put egg yolks in a bowl and break up with a whisk. Add a couple ladles of soup, while whisking. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the pot of soup, and stir to combine.

This should result in no lumps, strings, "rags", etc., just glossy, thickened soup with a velvety feel in your mouth.

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I use egg yolks to thicken and to add more "food" to the soup. I beat a number of egg yolks in a cup. Take the soup off the heat. I add a bit of the soup to the egg yolks while whisking. Then I add the whole thing to the soup. If the soup is too cold it will not thicken. If too hot, the yolks will separate.

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