Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Classic Avgolemono Soup (Greek lemon, rice and chicken soup)


Avgolemono (pronounced avo-lem-on-o) is a class Greek soup recipe. The word avgolemono means egg-lemon. It doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, in fact, the recipe my yiayia gave me has just 5 ingredients. But don’t let that fool you because the soup is anything but basic.

It is rich and silky smooth and probably unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. It’s the perfect soup when you’re feeling under the weather. The lemon juice soothes sore throats, and the rice can help calm stomach troubles.

The soup appears to be creamy, but the thick consistency actually comes from eggs. Eggs act as a thickening agent in many recipes. But as you already know, raw eggs become scrambled eggs when you heat them, and we don’t want that in this soup (egg drop soup is a different story).

So we must use a special technique called tempering.

Tempering eggs is the process of slowly raising the heat of the eggs to avoid scrambling them. You do this by adding a small amount of hot broth into the egg mixture while vigorously whisking. The process is repeated several times before dumping all of it into the broth.

Staying on the topic of eggs, there seems to be a lot of variance between whether to use only egg yolks or the entire egg.

After much experimentation, I’ve determined this to be the best method:

1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites while the eggs are still cold and before you do anything else! It’s easier to separate yolks from whites while eggs are cold, BUT you want the eggs to warm to room temperature before tempering them. That’s why you should do it first!

2. Whisk the egg whites vigorously before adding the yolks and lemon juice. You want the egg whites almost at soft peak stage. This will help you produce the volume you need to thicken the soup and prevent the egg whites from separating. Once you add the yolks and lemon juice, stir to combine but don't overmix.

Avgolemono soup (Greek lemon and rice soup)
Yield: Serves 8 people
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Parsley for garnish, if desired
Directions
  1. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Make sure the egg whites are in a large bowl. The egg yolks can be in a smaller bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice to the egg yolks but don't mix. Set aside.
  3. Drizzle olive oil in bottom of pot at least 3 quarts in size and warm to medium heat.
  4. Brown chicken in pot, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate and shred. It should be cooked at this point. If it's a tiny bit pink don’t worry because it will finish cooking in the stock with the rice.
  5. Add onion to pot and cook until tender about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Deglaze pot with a couple of tablespoons of stock. Add the rest of the stock, rice, salt, pepper, and shredded chicken. 
  7. Bring stock to boil and let simmer for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  8. Once rice is cooked, turn heat to low.
  9. Going back to your eggs, vigorously whisk egg whites until they’re thick and frothy, about 2 minutes. 
  10. Add the yolks and lemon juice to the egg whites and whisk slowly until just combined. Don’t whisk too much or you’ll lose the frothiness!
  11. While whisking, slowly add 1 cup of hot soup from pot to bowl with eggs and lemon juice. Repeat with several cups of soup, all while still whisking. 
  12. Once you’ve finished tempering the soup, add it back to the pot, remove from heat, and stir.
  13. Serve with fresh parsley!


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