Easter Lamb Soup with Marjoram and Lemon

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

The combination of egg and lemon beaten into soups, stews, and vegetable dishes provides extraordinary delicate flavor and visual appeal. Usually this ethereal combination, found most everywhere around the Mediterranean, is added to very simply cooked food, bringing it to new heights.

Some humble products such as lamb breast have fallen out of favor, supplanted by such glamorous ingredients as foie gras and other luxurious meats. In fact, lamb breast, being cheap, juicy, and flavorful, makes a great ingredient for soups. Here the bones, rich in natural gelatin, provide body to this brodetto Pasquale. Some cooks serve the meat as a separate course, but since there is so little of it, I just cube it and float it in the soup.

In Rome, the cheese of choice is pecorino (which is Italian for “sheep”), but you might find it too strong and salty for such a subtle soup. I usually substitute another sheep’s milk cheese, such as a Spanish manchego or even a dry cow’s milk Monterey Jack.


  • 2 pounds breast of lamb in one piece, rinsed well, excess fat removed
  • 2 quarts hot degreased rich meat stock
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup grated pecorino Romano, Spanish 6 egg yolks manchego, or dry Monterey Jack cheese
  • 18 slices of narrow Italian bread, toasted


  1. Place the lamb in a soup pot, preferably earthenware, set over a heat diffuser. Add the hot stock. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, partially covered, until very tender, about 2 hours. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
  2. Remove the lamb when well done. Cut the meat into fine dice and discard the bones, gristle, and fat. Keep moist with a few tablespoons stock. Carefully skim the remaining stock to remove as much fat as possible. Keep warm over very low heat while preparing the egg yolks.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice until blended. Very slowly, whisk in 1 cup of the hot stock to raise the temperature of the egg yolks. Whisk in a second cup of stock. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the remaining stock and cook, whisking constantly, until the soup thickens. Do not let it come to a boil, or it will curdle.
  4. Stir in the marjoram, correct the seasoning with salt and pepper, and add the cubes of meat. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with the toasted cheese and bread slices.