During my December episode with the flu, I downed a lot of chicken soup. I started with the thin, brothy type. As my condition improved, I moved on to the more substantive, such as Lemon Chicken Soup, or what the Greeks call Avgolemeno.
Debra, my daughter-in-law, has a special fondness for the soup and brought me some of the comforting concoction sometimes referred to as Greek penicillin, because of its supposed healing qualities.
A Gift from Mount Olympus
Avgolemeno is basically a velvety, egg-lemon sauce for vegetables, pasta, fish or meat. But the addition of a bit more chicken broth, rice and shredded chicken turns it into a satisfying soup. And it’s gluten free! Thickening is achieved from the egg yolks rather than flour. Food Network has a video clip showing the few steps involved.
This is a fabulous soup and easy to make! Truly a gift from Mount Olympus.
Hints for Getting it Right
- Never let the soup boil once you’ve added the egg-lemon mixture. The soup can “break” (separate) and leave pieces of cooked egg floating about. It’s still edible, but not as pretty as it should be. When reheating leftovers, do it gently on low, and don’t let the soup boil. Garnish at the end with a few sprigs of fresh dill.
- To shorten preparation time, start with a carton of chicken broth and reduce it by half. Follow the Food and Wine video that uses shredded meat from a deli chicken to further jumpstart this recipe.
- Avgolemeno is pronounced “ah-vo” (which means egg) and “lemon-o,”(meaning lemon); the “g’ is silent.
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemeno)
Place chicken in a large pot and add enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, skimming when necessary.
Heat oil in a separate pan over medium heat and add onions. Cook onions until clear, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
When chicken is cooked through, 45 minutes to 1 hour, remove from broth. Let chicken cool and pull meat from bones. Dice into large cubes and set aside.
Add bay leaves, carrot, leek and reserved onions to broth and simmer, about 1 hour.
Remove carrot and leek from broth and add rice. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until rice is cooked to al dente, about 30 minutes. Add chicken back into broth. Add more water, if needed.
In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and eggs together. Pour 2 cups of broth slowly into the bowl, whisking continuously. Start with just a few teaspoons at a time until broth is incorporated. Add mixture to pot of chicken soup and stir to blend. Do not let soup boil. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot.