You find the egg-and-lemon finish, also called bel tarbeyah, in all Middle Eastern countries. In Greece it is the famous avgolemono. Use skinned fish fillets-white fish such as cod or haddock-or have a mixture of seafood including peeled shrimp and, if you like, a handful of mussels.
- 6 cups fish or chicken bouillon (use 2 fish or chicken bouillon cubes)
- ¼ teaspoon saffron powder or threads or ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 2 ounces vermicelli, broken into small pieces, or litde pasta like orzo (they are called lissan al asifour, bird’s tongues, in Arabic)
- 2 pounds skinned fish fillets, or 1½ pounds fillets with ½ pound shrimp and a dozen or so mussels
- 3 eggs
- Juice of 1 to 2 lemons or 3 to 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon to garnish (optional)
Bring the stock to a boil in a large pan.
Add the saffron, vermicelli, and fish fillets, cut into pieces, and cook 3-6 minutes, until the vermicelli is tender and the fish begins to flake. Add the seafood, if using, for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the lemon juice. Add a ladle of the liquid soup and beat well. Then pour the egg mixture into the soup and stir for a minute or so over low heat, until the soup thickens a little. Do not let it boil, or the eggs will curdle. Taste and add salt and pepper.
Serve at once, dusted, if you like, with cinnamon.
A Tunisian version has 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 large boiled potatoes cut into pieces, and 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro added to the stock.