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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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  • 1
    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
  • 4
    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
  • If somebody wonders why I closed my own question: I asked it early in my days on the site, when I did not know all rules well. Now I recognize it as a typical big-list question, with all the usual results of what happens to such questions. The answers are difficult to comb through, repeat themselves, and don't actually solve a specific problem, just make a random collection of trivia. It's not the worst case I have seen, but certainly not allowable under current site rules.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 20 at 18:35
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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 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 without beating the egg ;) it's good to crack the egg into 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 turn 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 minutes). 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 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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I've added just the yolks, unbroken, to the final boiling process, then cook through. The flavor it adds is just a back note...but once you've tried it, you'll never want chicken soup any other way.

It's similar to the Polish version, just without the egg-whites.

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Egg white can be used to clarify rather than thicken a clear soup. Also used in booze for same reason and referred to then as "fining".

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Greeks separate egg yolks and froth egg whites and then temper in some hot broth to the egg yolks. Then they mix warm yolks with white froth. Then add to soup which will thicken it and also give a good flavour, usually done with lemon. It's called avgolemono

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My grandmother makes a soup called Chicken Pastina soup that uses an alternative egg method. Here are the ingredients.

-Chicken Broth

-Chicken

-Noodles/Pastina

-Two Eggs

Using the Pastina, Chicken, and broth, make a normal chicken soup (as you usually might with regular chicken soup) and scramble the eggs in a seperate pan.

Add the scrambled egg into the hot soup, and if this is executed correctly, the egg should start to break down in the soup into small pieces and it gives it an extra layer of flavor and also provides extra protein.

I haven't seen this method with soup and scrambling eggs, but it certainly tastes good and provides richness to the soup.

This egg method can be used in any soup. See this link for what it should look like if done correctly, in the Pastina soup enter image description here

The "stringy, small bits" are the eggs. Again, can be used in any recipe with any pasta.

Update: Adding a raw egg into the HOT soup will cook the egg in the soup (this is another method I researched.

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