Introduction: Avgolemono - Lemon Chicken Soup

So easy to make, so filling, so good!

The trickiest part of this soup is pronunciation, but after you've said it a few times, you'll get the hang of it. AVE (as in 'have') GO (just as it sounds) LEMON (just as it sounds) NO (just as it sounds)

Put it all together, and you have AVE-GO-LEMON-O.

Some people pronounce the ending as LEH-MAH-NO, but whatever gets it in the bowl works fine for me.

Contrary to what looks somewhat gourmet, this soup is amazingly easy to make, and much of the prep can be done ahead of time. Recipe is courtesy of Cooking Light.

The first time I served a bowl of it to my husband, he asked what it was. I simply looked it up online, and read the opening text from the Wikipedia internet page, verbatim:

"Avgolemono or egg-lemon (from Greek: αυγολέμονο or αβγολέμονο, is a family of Mediterranean sauces and soups made with egg and lemon juice mixed with broth, heated until they thicken. In Arabic, it is called tarbiya or beida bi-lemoune 'egg with lemon'; and in Turkish terbiye. In Sephardic Jewish cuisine, it is called agristada or salsa blanco, and in Italian cuisine, bagna brusca, brodettato, or brodo brusco. It is also widely used in Balkan cuisine."

He then asked "Well, what is it in America?" I replied "Chicken soup."

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

During the early part of Winter, we can count on Meyer lemons showing up in the local grocery stores. A big fan of the lower acidity, and the wonderfully fragrant scent, we try to impart the Meyer into many dishes during this time.

Gather the following ingredients:

2 teaspoons of olive oil

1 whole onion (chop and measure 1 cup of onion)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 - 32 oz. carton of low-sodium chicken broth

1 - 14.5 oz. can of chicken broth (regular or low-sodium)

* A NOTE ABOUT BROTH * If you were making an authentic Avgolemono, you would make your own broth, using whole chickens, carrots, celery and onions. Consider doing so when you have plenty of time, it is absolutely worth it. For this recipe, and ease of preparation, we are using purchased broth.

1/2-3/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice (consider Basmati), or stick to Greek tradition, and use Orzo pasta!

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (consider Meyer lemons if available)

2 teaspoons of cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast - SEE STEP 4

2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley *

2 Tablespoons of freshly torn basil *

*HERB NOTE - If you do not have basil or parsley, Cilantro makes a fine substitute

Step 2: Mise En Place!

Mise en place (pronounced MEEZ-ON-PLAHS) is a French phrase that applies to my style of cooking, though I only recently learned there was actually a term for what I thought was my obsession with tiny bowls, specific measurements and tidy line-up of ingredients before proceeding to cook. I'm not such a nut after all!

Translated as "put in place", mise en place is definitely a much more convenient way of cooking, at least for me, than having umpteen bottles, cans and miscellaneous packaging strewn about my prep area.

Image 1.) So, let's measure and set aside the following:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of uncooked long-grain rice. Soak in water if using Basmati

Image 4.) Squeeze a lemon, or two, to achieve 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Whisk the following in a bowl, and set aside. This will be your cream sauce.

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 1 large egg, freshly beaten

Image 6.) Prep the chicken

  • If you are in a big hurry, you can always use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken
  • If you have time, consider making your own shredded chicken. See step 4 for instructions.
  • Refrigerate the shredded, cooked chicken until the recipe calls it back into play later on.

Drag out that big, heavy Dutch oven

  • If you don't have a Dutch oven, you should seriously consider begging, borrowing, or stea___, no, wait. Don't do that. Do what you can, save your pennies, and invest in one. Your soups, stews, sauces and more will never be the same. You needn't spend a fortune to buy one, as mine is a brand that is quite fine, and was not as expensive as others.

Step 3: Prep the Veggies

Peel and dice up several cloves of garlic.

Peel and chop enough white or yellow onion to equal one cup

Pick the leaves from the herb you've chosen. I am using cilantro.

Chop, shred, or otherwise dismember the leaves.

Step 4: Prep and Cook the Chicken

You may also use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil on a baking sheet.

Clean and prep chicken breasts, removing tenderloin and all that icky stuff my niece calls 'doingy things'.

Place the chicken breast on the baking sheet, and give it a swirl.

Turn the chicken over, and swirl it again. Salt and pepper if desired.

Bake until a meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees, the safe cooking temperature for chicken.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool.

Shred the chicken breasts with your fingers, or use two forks with tines facing opposite directions, pulling at the breast to shred it.

Keep the chicken breast refrigerated until it is time to add it to the soup, especially if soup prep is going slowly.

Step 5: Saute the Veggies

Pour 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil into a Dutch oven over medium heat.

Allow the oil to heat up just a bit, then add the chopped onions.

Add minced garlic and allow the veggies to saute for about two minutes.

Step 6: Add Chicken Broth, Bring to a Boil, Add Rice

Add the carton of chicken broth

Add the can of chicken broth.

Allow the soup to come to a boil.

Rinse and drain the rice if you chose to soak it.

Stir in the rice, reduce the heat, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.

Now is the time to add a pinch of oregano, if you please. You could also use basil.

Step 7: Add Lemon Cream Sauce

Since you have already created the lemon cream sauce by combining the egg, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and corn starch from step 2, you will now quickly whisk the sauce into the soup. Add only a little bit at a time, whisking the soup very well as you do. Keep whisking. You don't want to make egg drop soup, you want the lemon, egg cream sauce to become the thickening agent, not leave clumps.

You may also wish instead to add a bit of the soup to the cream sauce, again, whisking well as you do, then pour the mixture back into the pot. Mixture will thicken, and rice will be done in about three minutes.

Step 8: Stir, Top With Herbs, and Serve!

Stir well, and savor the scents!

You may need a little more chicken broth if you were heavy-handed with the cornstarch.

This soup is an excellent dish to serve to company, and is well-received.
It will thicken slightly after being refrigerated overnight, but I am here to say, it makes a great breakfast!

Some people actually enjoy this soup in a cold state.

Bon appetite!

Step 9: Nutritional Information

When prepared as instructed in this tutorial, the nutritional information is as follows, according to Cooking Light, who so graciously provides this helpful detail with their recipes.

Serving size is assumed to be 1 1/2 cups per person.

CALORIES - 269

FAT - 7 grams (1.5 g. saturated, 3.5 mono, 1.1 poly)

PROTEIN - 25.4 grams

CARBOHYDRATES - 25.7 grams

FIBER - 1.1 grams

CHOLESTEROL - 116 milligrams

IRON - 2.1 milligrams

SODIUM - 541 milligrams

CALCIUM - 54 milligrams

Comments

author
RuthAnneI (author)2015-12-02

Thanks for a great recipe! I made it tonight, and it was a huge hit with the family :)

author
xxlauraxx (author)2014-12-19

Mmm, I've been meaning to try making this. Had some at a restaurant the other day that was delicious. Thanks for the pronunciation lesson, too!

author
WUVIE (author)xxlauraxx2014-12-23

Hello Laura, many thanks! I had to take the pronunciation lesson myself. LOL

author
CarmelitoAndrade (author)2014-12-19

i am going to have to try making this..thanks for the details.

author
WUVIE (author)CarmelitoAndrade2014-12-23

Many thanks, Carmelito!

author
MikeR3 (author)2014-12-19

Love this stuff!

The trickiest part is "tempering" the egg/lemon so the egg doesn't curdle.

When you're ready to add the egg/lemon to the hot soup, start by spooning a little of the hot soup and stirring it into the egg/lemon, then a little more, then a little more, then start (one spoonful at a time) adding this warmed mixture back to the main pot. The result should be nice and frothy.

Kalla Xristouyenna!

author
WUVIE (author)MikeR32014-12-19

Mike, love the Greek holiday greetings! Many thanks!

author
peppypickle (author)2014-12-19

wow, looks delicious, how long does this take you to make from start to finish?

author
WUVIE (author)peppypickle2014-12-19

Hi Peppy! Many thanks.

The length of time really depends on your chicken, as the rest is simply a matter of dicing and bringing the broth to a boil. With help, or for a quick prepper, you could easily have this on the table in an hour from start to finish, less if you have a rotisserie chicken to pick apart.

Throw the chicken in the oven, chop the veggies, saute the veggies, add broth, and while it is coming to a boil, dissect the chicken. Add rice, simmer for a bit, and add chicken. Very, very quick and easy. :-)

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