Everyone has heard of chicken noodle soup and if you haven’t, go whip up a batch or grab a can of Campbell's, it's known as an American classic for a reason. Chicken noodle soup found its way to America with the immigration of Scotland and Poland and became a staple in the Mennonite, Amish and Jewish cultures. The simplicity of chicken noodle soup is its key, with nothing more than chicken, noodles, a few veggies and broth, it will warm you up from the inside out and make you smile. That being said, I am not going to teach you about the classic broth soup, I am actually going to show you how to make its delightful cousin, Avgolemono soup! Avgolemono may sound a bit odd, but it is truly nothing more than a chicken noodle soup (subbed with either rice or orzo for the noodles) thickened with an egg and lemon mixture.
“Eggs and lemon?” you may say? Yes, you read that correctly. The name translates directly to Avgo- egg, Lemono- lemon, in Greek. The soup actually has many names as it is a huge fan favorite across Central and Eastern Mediterranean culture. Having this wide of a culture base also makes it a very diverse food. I have seen the consistency range from a thick stew to a lightly foggy broth. I have seen lamb, chicken or fish used as the protein. I have seen people use rice, orzo, noodles, tapioca, and pastini as the starch. In fact, this soup is also used as a sauce to go over all assortments of proteins and sides alike!
This soup is a middle ground that will allow you to try the fantastic flavors and from there, you can develop your own household twists for you and yours to enjoy.
2 chicken breasts (boneless skinless), ½ inch dice
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup uncooked brown rice (I like brown rice for soups so it doesn’t turn to mush if reheated.)
3 large stalks of celery, thinly sliced on an angle
5 small to medium carrots, cut into coins
1 large yellow onion, medium diced
5-8 cloves of garlic, minced
3 large eggs
2 medium lemons
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
High temp cooking oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
All “mise en placed:”
1. Preheat a pot on high and after it is hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer and 45 seconds later, pour in the diced chicken and season with salt and pepper. Be patient as you want to get some browning on the meat without cooking it all the way through.
If your chicken does not get brown do not fret, remove the meat from the pan and keep the heat high on. The residual juices from the chicken will brown and give you good flavor!
2. Add the carrots, celery, onions and season with salt and pepper. Stir the veggies frequently until they begin to soften and the onions begin to turn a light tan color.
3. Add the garlic, rice and chicken and stir for an additional minute.
4. Pour in the stock, oregano and paprika and bring the pot to a slow simmer, then cover. This will now cook for 25 minutes to fully cook your rice and meld the flavors.
5. After about 15 minutes, you can whisk your eggs and add in the lemon juice and zest. Whisk these until they begin to froth or foam on the top.
6. After the rice is fully cooked, using a ladle or cup, scoop about 1 cup of liquid from the soup and while continuously whisking, slowly pour the liquid into the egg lemon mixture, gradually bringing the temperate up. This is called tempering your eggs and ensures the eggs don't cook too fast and you end up with scrambled eggs. Once the mixture is warm to the touch, you can pour the mixture into the pot of soup while stirring rapidly.
And there you have yourself a delicious Avgolemono Soup! This is enjoyable on cold days, hot days and even pureed and in a to-go mug.
If soups and stews are something you enjoy making, check out The Chopping Block's Seasonal Soups and Stews demonstration class. It’s a great way to learn new techniques and train your palate to balance flavors and textures. Not to mention soups are a great way to clean out the fridge!