Do you need a quick yet unusual soup to help you get through the end of winter? Avgolemeno soup, in my abbreviated version, is bright, creamy, and healthful. It is thick and rich, yet relatively low-fat and easy to make. This is one of my favourite soups to make during the winter for its simplicity and ingredients, which I regularly stock.
Avgolemono soup is a traditional Greek soup, which requires eggs and lemons for its consistency and lively taste. While it is generally chicken-based, recipes sometimes call for vegetarian stock or other meat broths. NB: I do not agree with the Wikipedia entry for avgolemono soup “invariably” curdling, when refrigerated and reheated; I have not had this happen to me.
I have fond memories of avgolemeno soup from living in “Chicagoland”. Greater Chicago had such an influx of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries that it would make such claims as more Poles than anywhere in the world except for Warsaw and more Greeks than any place outside Athens. There were many outstanding Greek restaurants throughout Chicago, as well as diners, coffee shops, and other such American-style restaurants run by people of Greek descent.
As my family ate out many times each week while I was growing up, we often had Greek cuisine in “Greektown” as well as eating in Greek-influenced diners. Avgolemeno (“egg-lemon”) soup was frequently on the menu in the former and the latter, with the name always in English at the diners. Except during my strictest vegetarian years, I always enjoyed avgolemono soup.
Gratuitous feline and fowl photos
George seems to be pondering when spring will arrive.
Any sprouts coming up yet?
Jinja may be looking around the corner for spring….
While a bald eagle appears to be contemplating spring nest locations.
For the review – and the recipe
Though I follow the traditional chicken-based version, a vegetarian alternative – though not vegan – could work well. The thickening of the eggs, I suspect, could not be readily replaced by vegan alternatives with the same results. Similarly, brown rice could work, but I believe the creaminess of white rice contributes to the texture (I generally use Basmati or jasmine rice in this soup).
Black pepper is a key star, along with the sassy lemon. Lemon-chicken-pepper are natural allies, so they shine together in this soup. The thick luxurious texture and rich taste belie the relative low-fat nature of the soup and its easy preparation. If there is leftover white rice in your fridge, this soup can be ready in fewer than 15 minutes – making good use of the rice.
As is, this soup is substantial enough as a main course, with a hearty bread – try a good sourdough, with its tanginess to complement the lemony soup. Perhaps a Greek salad and/or a spanakopita, spinach-feta filo pie, could accompany the soup for a Grecian feast? So if you are not taking a winter fantasy/get-away to the Greek Isles like Shirley Valentine, this soup is the easiest way to transport yourself to sunnier, warmer climes.
Avgolemeno Soup, adapted from many different recipes over the years, serves four as a main course, six as a starter
- 1 litre or quart organic chicken stock (or substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian alternative), either home-made or from a high-quality packaged product
- 1/2 cup uncooked white rice or 1 cup leftover white rice (brown rice might work but not as much creaminess)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 egg, beaten
- 2 lemons, juiced
- Parsley, for garnish
- pieces of chicken, optional
- Prepare rice according to directions for that particular rice, if making fresh rice, one-half hour before you would like to serve the soup.
- Heat stock in a large sauce pan.
- Add fresh rice or left over rice to stock and stir to combine.
- Whisk the eggs with the lemon juice in a heat-proof glass or ceramic (i.e., non-reactive) bowl.
- Add about one-cup of hot broth into the egg-lemon mixture very slowly in a steady thin stream to temper the eggs (that is, to ensure they do not curdle), stirring constantly with a whisk or large wooden spoon.
- Gradually whisk in more broth until the egg mixture is well-heated, approximately another cup.
- Pour the egg-lemon broth mixture back into the pot, whisking or stirring to combine briskly. The result should be a creamy, opaque soup.
- Taste and add salt and plenty of pepper (more lemon juice at this point, if you want it to be really lemony).
- If you have leftover chicken, add pieces of chicken to the soup before serving.