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What does adding egg to soup do?

Adding eggs to soup can provide several benefits and enhance the flavor, texture, and nutrition of the dish. Eggs are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different types of soups, from creamy chowders to light broths. Here’s an overview of what eggs do when added to soup.

Thickens the Broth

One of the main effects of adding eggs to soup is that it thickens and enriches the broth. Eggs act as a thickening agent and emulsifier, adding body and texture to soups. This makes the broth richer, creamier, and more substantial.

There are a few different ways eggs can thicken soup:

  • Stirring in beaten eggs: Adding 1-2 beaten eggs to simmering soup and stirring constantly as it heats thickens the broth.
  • Making an egg custard: Slowly pouring egg mixed with cream or milk into hot soup and cooking gently results in soft egg custard pieces that thicken the soup.
  • Using an egg yolk liaison: Tempering egg yolks with hot broth then adding back to the pot creates a rich, velvety texture.

The protein and fat in eggs are what gives body and richness to the surrounding liquid. So using whole eggs or just yolks can bump up the thickness of broth for a more substantial mouthfeel.

Enhances Flavor

In addition to changing the texture, eggs also enrich the flavor of soups. The yolks in particular add a warm, nutty, subtly sweet taste. The egg yolk fats carry flavor, allowing the ingredients to come through in a more intense, savory way.

Some examples of how eggs enhance soup flavor:

  • In chicken noodle soup, eggs boost the meaty flavors from the chicken broth.
  • In potato soup, egg yolks lend a buttery, rich taste that complements the starchy potatoes.
  • In vegetable egg drop soup, scrambled eggs give a soft, custard-like accent to the vegetables and broth.

Even just a small amount of egg can provide a savory umami quality. Beating the eggs well before adding integrates them fully into the broth for the biggest flavor impact.

Improves Mouthfeel

The increased richness and body that eggs provide also improves the mouthfeel of soups. They make the liquid feel smooth, substantial, and almost velvety as it coats the mouth. This is especially true when adding egg yolks, which contain the emulsifying fats.

Some ways that eggs enhance soup mouthfeel:

  • In chowders, eggs make the broth thick and creamy for a heartier texture.
  • In hot and sour soup, scrambled eggs add delicate strands of egg protein for a silky texture.
  • In ramen, soft boiled eggs have a smooth, almost custard-like yolk that contrasts with the noodles.

The added viscosity and fat from eggs results in a richer, more luxurious feeling broth. Yolks in particular create a luscious, velvety impression on the palate.

Increases Nutrition

Adding eggs boosts the nutritional value of soups by incorporating high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals. Just a single large egg contains:

  • 6 grams protein
  • Vitamins A, D, E, B6, B12
  • Iron, zinc, copper, selenium
  • Choline, lutein, zeaxanthin

The protein makes the soup extra satisfying and nutritious. The wide range of micronutrients also provides health benefits and makes eggs a great way to “sneak” extra nutrients into soups.

Some examples of nutritious egg soups include:

  • Egg drop soup with spinach for protein, lutein, and folate.
  • Stracciatella soup with eggs and greens for antioxidants.
  • Avgolemono chicken soup with protein, selenium, and B vitamins.

Just remember that the vitamins are primarily in the yolk, so be sure to include the whole egg. The protein in the whites and fat in the yolks pair to deliver a balanced nutritional addition.

Adds Protein

Eggs are one of the highest quality, most easily digestible sources of protein you can add to soups. The white contains the majority of the protein, with about 6 grams in a large egg.

Adding chopped boiled eggs, poached eggs, or scrambling eggs into soup substantially increases the protein content for a heartier, more filling meal. The protein takes longer to digest, so it keeps you feeling full and satisfied.

Some examples of protein-packed egg soup recipes include:

  • Ramen with ramen egg and pork for 20+ grams protein.
  • Egg drop soup with tofu and spinach for 15 grams.
  • Stracciatella with chicken and Parmesan for 30 grams.

Including some egg white when adding eggs to soups can thus make it a well-rounded meal high in satisfying protein.

Provides Fat

In addition to protein, eggs contribute heart-healthy fats, mostly contained in the yolk. A large egg yolk has about 5 grams fat, including:

  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7g
  • Saturated fat: 1.6g

These fats add richness and carry flavor in soups. They also help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from other ingredients. The cholesterol in eggs has minimal impact on blood cholesterol for most people.

Some examples of egg soups where the yolk adds healthy fats include:

  • Creamy potato soup
  • Chowders like corn and clam
  • Brothy ramen with ramen egg

So be sure to include some yolk when adding eggs to soup for the nutritional fats that impart flavor, richness, and creaminess.

Provides Emulsification

Egg yolks contain lecithin, a natural emulsifier that helps blend fats and water. Adding yolks to soup helps to emulsify and stabilize the broth, keeping fats suspended evenly throughout the liquid.

This gives the broth a rich, creamy texture and helps prevent separation. The lecithin assists in smoothing out the mouthfeel as well. Other ingredients like cream or oil can be incorporated more thoroughly with the addition of eggs.

Some examples of egg yolks emulsifying soup include:

  • Smooth blended soups like potato leek
  • Bisques with pureed seafood and cream
  • Gumbos and chowders with mixed fats and seasonings

So if you want to add dairy or oil to a soup, consider including some egg yolk to emulsify and stabilize the mixture for the best texture and mouthfeel.

Provides Bindings

The proteins in eggs are effective binding agents that can hold ingredients together and add coherence to soups.

When eggs are cooked into soups, the proteins set and slightly firm up, helping to bind together diverse textures and prevent separation. This gives a more cohesive consistency.

Some examples where eggs bind soup ingredients:

  • Dumplings stay suspended in broth better with egg as a binder.
  • Meatballs hold together with the addition of egg.
  • Quenelles of fish or meat paste keep their shape when bound with egg.

So for soups with lots of additional ingredients like dumplings, eggs help bind the mixture together for better texture and enjoyment.

Adds Color

In addition to altering texture and taste, eggs provide color contrast when added to soups. The white and yolks add visual appeal in different ways.

The white from boiled, poached, or scrambled eggs provides bright white flecks and strands that stand out against the darker broth. This contrast makes the soup more visually interesting.

Egg yolks add a vivid yellow-orange color when used. This can provide color balance with green ingredients like herbs or vegetables. The yolk also adds richness and makes the presentation more elegant.

Some examples of soups where egg color makes an impact:

  • Egg drop soup with white strands suspended in the broth
  • Stracciatella’s flecks of yolk complement the green spinach
  • Ramen eggs with vivid yolky centers

So consider eggs as an easy way to naturally enhance both the appearance and taste of soups.

Conclusion

Adding eggs to soup provides multiple benefits beyond just flavor. The proteins thicken the broth for heartier texture while the fats carry taste and provide creaminess. Eggs also boost nutrition, act as emulsifiers and binding agents, and improve presentation with color and texture contrast. With all these effects, it’s easy to see why cooks have long turned to eggs as a secret ingredient for enhancing all kinds of soups.