Mayiritsa or magiritsa –μαγειρίτσα in Greek. A fabulous soup originally made with chopped liver, lettuce and intestines. It is traditionally served after the liturgy of the Resurrection, the evening before Greek Easter. This light and delicate version with estragon and turmeric makes a gourmet soup and first course for many creative menus.
I adore the traditional Mayiritsa (Greek Easter soup). Sadly, it is reserved for a single holiday and identified with a specific ritual, almost totally excluding the enjoyment of the soup during the rest of the year. I have told myself many times that I must start cooking it regardless of its association with Easter, simply because it is a wonderful dish, but, unfortunately, I must confess that I have never attempted to do so.
This year, I thought of altering the recipe slightly, to make it lose its traditional identity somewhat, to transform the concept and turn it into a more gourmet proposition that could serve as the basis for making it at times other than Easter. The recipe that follows is the one I prepared for Holy Saturday, inspired by that occasion. Those who tasted it declared it the best mayiritsa they ever sampled, so I do recommend it, regardless of season.
It is light and extremely delicate, and upgrades the traditional recipe to a higher level, though without bombast or removal of the dish from the intimacy of its accustomed culinary reference. If you like liver and offal, you will find more than pleasant this refined mayiritsa soup flavoured with estragon and served with egg lemon sauce.
Magiritsa with estragon and liver
Preparation: The soup can be prepared well in advance or the day before. The preparation and cooking takes about 1½ hours. Allow the soup to cool and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge 2-3 hours ahead and warm it over low heat for 15 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, prepare the egg and lemon sauce (avgolemono). Even though you can warm the soup completely ready, the final result and appearance are better if egg and lemon sauce is made at the last minute.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
1 lamb offal (liver, lungs and heart)
300 g intestines
8-10 spring onions, finely chopped
2 romaine (cos) lettuce hearts, finely chopped
2 endives, finely chopped
10-12 sprigs of dill, finely chopped
50 g fennel bulb, finely chopped
6-8 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
½ cup long grain rice
200 ml dry white wine
1.6 lt warm vegetable stock
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste
For the egg and lemon sauce (avgolemono)
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp corn flower
Cleaning the intestines: Wash thoroughly the intestines under running water and put them in a bowl filled with water and a little vinegar for 10 minutes. To clean the inside of them, find either end of the intestines and turn them inside out.
To do so, take the back of a wooden skewer or chopstick and push it gently to enter one end for approximately 3-4 cm. Hold it securely and start rolling the intestine around the skewer (see foto). When finished, push the skewer and turn slowly the intestine inside out. Wash one at a time with water and vinegar -the whole process won’t take more than 20 minutes.
Preparing the intestines and offal: Use a large pot with lots of water and bring to a boil. Add the offal and the intestines and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, put under running water (for 1-2 min.) and let them cool.
Cut the liver into small cubes and finely chop the rest, heart and intestines. Remove and discard the fat.
Preparing the magiritsa with estragon soup: Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot. Add the spring onions and fennel. Sauté in a medium heat for 5 minutes, until soften but not coloured, add the offal and the intestines and sauté for 5 minutes more, stirring constantly.
Pour 100 ml of the wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining wine, chopped lettuces and endives. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add turmeric and hot stock. Season and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Add dill, tarragon and rice and simmer for 25 minutes.
Preparing the egg and lemon sauce (avgolemono): Whisk (by hand or mixer) the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, corn flower and gradually the ¾ of lemon juice, beating constantly.
To complete and serve: Slowly tickle with a ladle some hot soup into the egg and lemon sauce, whisking constantly as you do so, until mixture thickens (about 10 tbsp). Slowly tickle the egg-and-lemon mixture back into the soup, stirring gently. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and lemon, if needed. Serve mayiritsa in warm soup plates.
Note: Although lemon juice goes very well with the traditional magiritsa, in this recipe use it in moderation, so that it won’t impose its taste on the other ingredients and aromatic herbs.