Avgolemono Soup: how to make it
Inexpensive, easy to make, and delicious. What's not to love?
It seems to be a common theme for online recipes to have some sort of deep, emotional backstory from the person who wrote it. I don't have one of those. All I can say is that avgolemono soup is really, really good. It was a great excuse for me to go to fancy Greek restaurants that routinely served it as a starter. That is, of course, until I learned how ridiculously easy it is to make.
My recipe has a few variations on the traditional Greek grandmother's classic. I like to start off by taking a very finely-chopped onion and sweating it in the soup pot with some EVOO and lemon zest over medium-low heat. I also like to add chicken, and I find it easiest just to dump a can of cooked chicken breast straight into the pot. The juice that it's packed in also adds a bit of seasoning to the chicken broth, eliminating the need to use extra salt. Finally, I like to add the lemon juice into the egg yolk mixture rather than directly into the soup. It'll get there either way.
If the thought of tempering egg yolks seems like a painful process, trust me when I say it's not hard at all. Just don't rush it. If you go at the speed of James May, it's quite easy to get the yolks to adjust to the correct temperature. The challenge is that if you're going to reheat leftovers, you can't do it in the microwave--otherwise the egg mixture will separate from the broth. Yuck. But if you take your time and gently heat it up on the stove, those leftovers will be just as delicious as the night before. Give this super simple recipe a shot, fellow FoodTribers. Let me know how it went for you in the comments!
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 medium onion, very finely chopped (you can use a food processor to do this)
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 can cooked chicken breast (and its juices)
- juice from 2 large lemons
- zest from 2 large lemons
- 3/4 cup orzo
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- In a medium-sized soup pot, heat up the olive oil on medium high heat. Once it starts to bubble, add the onion and lemon zest. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and sweat the onions for a few minutes. Don't let the onions caramelize!
- Once the onions have softened, add in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then add the orzo, stirring constantly for the first minute or so. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook the orzo. This takes around 7-8 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, add the 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks and beat them. Add the lemon juice and stir a bit more.
- Once the orzo has cooked, turn the heat down to low and add the canned chicken. Stir. You'll want the soup to be somewhat hot, but not bubbling.
- If you dump the eggs straight into the soup at this point, you're going to have an oddly zesty chicken-noodle-scrambled egg soup. To avoid this, you need to temper the eggs. All you have to do is ladle out some of the broth and very slowly pour it into the beaten eggs, whisking the mixture constantly as you do this. 2 ladle-fuls of broth should be enough to keep the eggs from cooking as you do the next step.
- Remove the broth from the heat, and whisk in the tempered egg-lemon mixture. Whisk until the eggs are completely mixed with the broth. You should notice the soup start to thicken as you do this.
- Serve immediately.