In my house, we grew up celebrating Greek Easter. My mom was a Greek New Yorker who believed in keeping our family traditions alive, even as she found herself raising two native Angeleno children in the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley. We went to Greek school, Greek church, learned traditional Greek songs and Greek dances but, most importantly, we inherited the Greek way of life…a deep passion and love for food, family, friends, nature and Life itself. For Greeks, every day on Earth is a gift to be unwrapped and enjoyed, a reason to celebrate! And there is truly no bigger Greek celebration than the Anastasi!
Known to Americans as “Greek Easter” or “Eastern Orthodox Easter”, many Greeks, Armenians and Russians celebrate the Easter holiday in accordance with a different calendar—which is why it often falls on a completely different weekend than when the Easter Bunny comes to visit, much to the confusion of many of my childhood friends. (For the factually curious, Eastern Orthodox churches still abide by the Julian calendar instead of the western Gregorian calendar.) Greeks traditionally celebrate the Resurrection with a midnight candlelight church ceremony, followed by the Anastasi Dinner—the feast to end all feasts, the party to end all parties. Lamb, red dyed eggs and tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) pour out of the kitchens as children and grandparents alike eat, sing and dance until dawn.
Over the years, we adopted our own Anastasi celebration at home, centered around the Greek Easter traditions while gathering our family together to celebrate the gift of life and each other. We eat tsoureki Greek Easter bread, a sweet and fluffy egg bread that is hand-braided into circular loaves with red dyed eggs baked on top. We make these at home, but you can find them at your local Greek or Armenian market, or just buy a good soft loaf of egg bread in a pinch. We also dye our hard-boiled eggs red to symbolize the gift of the Resurrection—of death and rebirth. The red egg dye can be purchased at any Greek, Armenian or Russian market or deli. We play the traditional game where each person picks an egg and you go around the circle, tapping your egg ends against each other until one person is left with at least one side of their egg uncracked. The winner is blessed with good luck for the year.
The star dish at our dinner table is always my mom’s famous magiritsa, the traditional Greek Easter soup. Magiritsa has a tart-tangy-sweet flavor unlike any other soup you will ever eat… and it is instantly addictive. The flavor comes from the lemon and egg broth (avgolemono) that gets added in at the end, as well as a small amount of organic chicken or beef liver that is incorporated into the main soup. Even people who swear they don’t like liver (me included) love this soup. Every single person who has ever tried this dish at our dinner table has gone back for seconds and asked to take some home. I’m literally smiling just thinking about it. It’s that good. And paired with the subtle sweetness of the tsoureki Greek Easter bread, it is a dream come true that makes your body hum and sing with joy from the inside out.
This Magiritsa recipe is our family recipe brought over by my grandmother from her ancestors in Greece and I am so happy to share it with you now. Serve it with a big chunk of Greek Easter bread or good crusty bread, fresh feta cheese and olives on the side. Greek Easter is a time to celebrate life and renewal, but you don’t have to celebrate the traditional holiday to enjoy this delicious soup. Spring is a time full of promise—with so much new life, new energy, growth and expansion at your fingertips. Gather up your family and friends, set a pretty table and celebrate the joy of being alive on this beautiful Earth together! What an incredible gift it is!
MAGIRITSA GREEK EASTER SOUP
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 30 mins
Serves: 8 people
- 1 lb. organic ground beef or bison (or lamb if you can find it)
- ½ lb. organic chicken or beef liver
- 1 medium onion, finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 bunch green onion, finely minced (use both the white & green parts)
- ½ cup fresh parsley, finely minced & well-packed
- ½ cup fresh dill, finely minced & well-packed
- ½ cup fresh basil, finely minced & well-packed (optional, but we add it to our recipe)
- 3 stalks of celery, finely minced
- ¼ cup white basmati rice
- ½ cup white vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
- 10 cups water
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 6 eggs
- juice of 2-3 lemons (to taste)
- 1 tsp light olive oil or butter (to grease the pot)
In a large soup pot, heat 1 tsp olive oil or butter to coat the bottom of the pot on medium heat. Sauté onions until they turn translucent. Add ground meat and stir until it browns. If the meat renders any excess fat, spoon the fat out of the pot and dispose of it.
Cut off any tough tissue or fat from the liver. In a Cuisinart or blender, pulse liver until it liquefies.
Add liquefied liver to the meat and continue to heat until the whole mixture browns. Add minced garlic and stir. Add all minced vegetables and herbs (green onion, parsley, dill, basil & celery) and stir into meat.
Add 10 cups of water. Add 1 dried bay leaf. Let simmer on low heat for 1½ -2 hours on low heat.
Add ¼ cup white basmati rice and stir.
Add ½ cup white vinegar.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes, just until the rice softens. Keep an eye on the water levels and make sure it does not reduce down too much. Add a small amount of water if necessary.
Now it’s time to prepare the avgolemono (lemon and egg broth) to be added into the soup.
In a blender, beat 6 eggs until frothy.
With the blender running on low speed, add the juice of 2-3 lemons (to taste) through a strainer. Keep the blender running and slowly ladle in 2 ladles of broth from the soup pot into the egg mixture in the blender, one ladle at a time until everything is incorporated. It’s important to do this slowly so that the eggs do not curdle or separate. Turn blender off.
Slowly pour the egg mixture from the blender into the soup pot a little bit at a time, stirring gently until everything is incorporated.
Salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
HOT TIP: You can make the soup base in advance, but wait to make the avgolemono until right before serving. After it is all made, the soup is fine to keep in the refrigerator and reheat for leftovers. But when first serving to guests, it is best served with the avgolemono freshly prepared.
Celebrate life this weekend! Ask yourself what new life you want to create!~ How do I want to expand? How do I want to grow? What seeds do I wish to cultivate?
Happy Easter and happy eating!! love, Sirens & Scoundrels xoxo
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