Contains: Gluten, wheat, egg. Is: Yet another Greek recipe…
I reviewed several recipes, and worked off of ideas from all of these:
The book by Micheal Psilakis, How to Roast a Lamb
Psilakis has been a wonderful resource for many things Greek. If you love this cuisine as much as do I, you’ll find it a cookbook where your money is well-spent. He does take this recipe an extra mile, by separating the egg yolk from the whites, and adding them separately, making the soup almost foamy upon the addition of the white. I didn’t go there this time.
I admit, done right, this is one of my favorite soups of all time – at least from the Western world. I prefer it with the orzo pasta over using rice, but your mileage may well differ. Either way is Greek. If you do use rice, you simply will have to cook it longer (and the recipe can thus be transformed into gluten-free if desired).
In April, I’ll be posting a Georgian variant of this recipe.
There are several variants for the Greek style. Besides choosing between the use of orzo or rice, the eggs can be whole or simply the yolks, you can vary the amount of lemon juice towards your fondness for things sour or less so, you can use home made chicken stock / bone broth, or you can use the supermarket low sodium boxed chicken broth. You can use white or dark chicken meat, or best yet, a combination of both.
I used whole eggs because I seldom have a use for egg whites by themselves. And my chickens are still not fully over their winter laying doldrums.
Ideally, one should make a home made chicken stock, but if you have a lack of time, a pre-made boxed chicken broth is serviceable. But for a quick re-hash on making a chicken stock:
MAKING CHICKEN STOCK: (for European-based soups * )
You can use the whole chicken, or you can reserve bones and bits left over from other meals. Break it up and put in a stock pot, or in your slow cooker, along with a quartered onion or two, shredded carrots – maybe half a cup, diced celery stalks, say three long ones. If you are lucky enough to have clean chicken feet, clip off any claws, and add those in. Bring to a boil if using the stock pot, and skim off and discard any foam. Set on high for the crock pot, and observe if there’s foam developing, which should also be removed. You can add herbs such as thyme as desired. I do not add salt at this stage at all – especially if you are using a stock pot, your broth is going to concentrate down as water evaporates, and if you do that, you’ll end up with The Great Salt Lake or worse yet, the Dead Sea.
Allow to simmer in the stock pot for about 1.5 – 2 hours. In the crock pot, this stock is ready at about 4 hours. (NOTE: for a true bone broth, you can simmer for a couple more hours, adding a tablespoon or two of vinegar to draw out collagen, after removing any large pieces of chicken minus bones you might want to reserve for food. Cooking the chicken itself for longer will simply toughen it – although you will still draw out stock flavors). Remove chicken, should you have used a whole chicken or intact chicken parts, de-bone and de-skin, saving the meat. Strain out everything else, saving the liquid. I put the stock in the fridge until it congeals, then I remove the fat layer. (Some people will save the fat as schmaltz and cook with it – I suggest only doing that if you know where your chicken came from – and frankly even though I know where much of my chicken comes from (ie, the back yard), I haven’t been saving it.) Alternatively, if you have one of those oil layer decanting cups, you can use that while the stock is still warm – I priced those out on Amazon and decided I’d stick with the old fashioned method of simply… waiting and then scraping.
The broth that remains can be divvied up and frozen for use at a future date.. The meat can either be added back in at this stage, or saved separately. Or used for something else. For the recipe that follows, I’ll assume you will not have saved any meat with the stock. Don’t add any salt just yet…
Okay, for the recipe below, you will work with either some variant of the above recipe, or with the boxed low sodium chicken broth found in most supermarkets. The home-made stock will produce a richer, more unctuous soup, but the boxed broth is serviceable, too. (I do NOT ever use bouillon or powdered recreations of stock for anything.)
Time to make our soup!
Prep Time: 20 minutes.
Cook Time: 25-35 minutes.
Rest Time: Not needed.
Leftovers: Certainly. Don’t re-heat to a boil, however, so as not to denature the work you put in on the egg.
Greek Avgolemono Soup
- About 3-4 cups of chicken broth, either home-made or store bought low sodium boxed broth. If the broth is thick you can use water to make up the balance of liquid.
- 1 yellow or white onion, chopped coarsely.
- 1 – 3 carrots, dependent both on predilection and on whether you are using home made broth where you’ve already added some of their flavor (less are needed), or store bought. Cut fine.
- 1 – 2 long stocks of celery, dependent both on predilection and on whether you are using home made broth where you’ve already added some of their flavor (less are needed), or store bought. Dice.
- 8-10 ounces of previously cooked boneless, skinless chicken meat. Which could have been roasted, or simply poached during the making of a a homemade broth. (I used both dark and white meat.)
- 1/4 cup orzo. (Or, Arborio rice).
- One half to a full amount of whole juice from a fresh lemon. (never use the bottled stuff).
- 3 egg yolks or 2 whole eggs. I used two whole eggs.
- 1 teaspoon potato starch. (Or use corn starch, but I don’t buy any. In this country I think it is all Monsanto/Bayer, but you decide for you.)
- Salt and ground white pepper to taste.
- Parsley or dill for garnish.
Into to your soup pot add the broth, onion, carrots, celery, and bring to a rapid simmer. Allow to cook until all the vegetables are softened, about 15-20 minutes.
Add the chicken, thyme, salt, pepper and orzo (or rice). I’d start here with about half a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for about 7 minutes (if orzo) or 20 (if rice). DO check the cooking time on the back of the orzo package – cook about a minute less than called for (unless the box gives a specific soup timing instruction). For my brand, it was 7 minutes….
Meanwhile, squeeze the lemon and beat the eggs, into two separate bowls. Once you’ve made this a couple times you will know how much lemon juice you prefer, and can combine them outside of the soup, but for the first time we’ll be adding these separately.
When the orzo or rice is ready, add a ladle or two of soup slowly to the eggs, in a process called tempering. The liquid when added should be below boiling, and you should whisk the ladle-ful in. The egg should not become egg-drop-soup-like – you want the temperature to be below that. Meanwhile, reduce the heat on the pot of soup itself to a hot that is just below a simmer.
Add the teaspoon of starch to the egg/soup bowl, and beat in with a fork or whisk.
Pour this back into the pot of soup, stirring.
Then, add about half the lemon juice, stirring. Taste, and adjust using more lemon or salt or pepper as needed. Remove from heat, and serve, topping with garnish.
For leftover soup: reheat in a pot to just below a boil, so as not to overcook the eggs.
‘* The mirepoix of onion, celery and carrot is European, specifically southern European and France. If you want to reserve stock for unknown future purposes, omit the celery and carrot. Cajun and Creole uses a different flavor profile, as do stocks used in eastern Asian cultures.
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