Avgolemono

Let soup week begin!  Today’s offering is a magical Greek soup that manages to be warm, creamy and comforting at the same time that it’s bright, green and sunny.  Perfect for a day like today that started with fog, moved into rain and back into fog.  What’s cool about this soup is that it’s thick and creamy without including any cream – just a little cornstarch and an egg.  Another fun fact for today is that it’s been so warm(ish) in Central Virginia thus far this Winter that I was able to get the parsley out of the herb garden in my front yard!  Can’t recall another late January when that was the case.

As you might imagine I followed the recipe to the letter, almost.  I only made a half recipe because I want to get to as many soups as I can this week.  Halving recipes can sometimes be difficult if you’re a little math challenged like I am.  Often it involves converting fractions of cups into tablespoons.  That’s way too much trouble for making soup so I did a little estimating.  I’ll give you the whole recipe below so that you’ll have the correct proportions.  The only other change I made was to add a little lemon zest right at the end.  I figured a little extra lemon flavor would be nice.  Good call.

This soup comes together really easily.  The rice cooks in the broth so you don’t have to do that ahead or in another pot.  You can use chicken leftover from a roasted chicken.  If you don’t have cooked chicken around you could certainly cut the chicken into very small pieces and poach them in the soup broth.  You’ll want to do that for a few minutes before you add the rice. Otherwise the rice will get gummy before the chicken is cooked.  My only other advice is to be conscientious about how you treat the egg mixture.  The last thing you want is to end up with scrambled egg in your avgolemono.  I recommend setting your egg out when you begin your chopping so that it has a chance to get a little closer to room temperature.  Then, whisk the lemon juice and egg mixture thoroughly before you add it.  I used a large measuring cup for this so it would be easy to pour in a slow steady stream into the soup pot.  Whisk briskly the whole time you’re pouring it.  That’s how you’ll get the really creamy texture that you’re after.  Think of it as a short workout for your whisking arm.  Add your fresh herbs at the very end as usual.  You want them to keep that bright green color.  Add them to the whole pot and cook 2-3 minutes.  If you only add them to the individual bowls as garnish you won’t get the lovely sweet, green flavor out of them.

Bottom line this is really easy, really yummy soup.  It’s easy to see why it’s touted as a “cure for whatever ails ya’.”

Good? Very good.  The lemony flavor keeps it from feeling heavy.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Sure, why not. With a big Greek salad and roasted vegetables.
Special shopping? Nope.

Avgolemono

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil
zest of 1 lemon (optional)

Directions

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add Chicken Stock; bring to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes. Combine juice, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly pour egg into broth mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken and most of the herbs to broth mixture; cook until mixture thickens and rice is done (about 3 minutes). Top with remaining parsley and basil and lemon zest.

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