Monday, January 21, 2013

Avgolemono Soup (Greek Chicken Noodle Soup With Eggs & Lemon)



Something strange has been happening here in Southern California lately. The weather, our fair and constant friend in these parts, has seemed to turn against us. I awoke on a recent morning to find ice on my windshield, and that the frost had killed the last of my bell pepper plants. Now, I know that the rest of the country has it much worse than this region when it comes to winter. However, buildings in this area are not made to withstand the cold. Especially not my 1950's bungalow triplex, which has no insulation, and contains vents in the floor that open up to the outdoors through vents in the crawlspace, so the inside of our apartment is always within 10 degrees of the outside temperature. Always.


We do have an old-school built-in gas heater, but when I turn it on I can see an open flame flickering through frosted glass at the bottom of the vent in the floor, and this completely terrifies me. Alas, I have come to depend on my tiny electric heater, heating pad, and hot food to keep myself toasty. And nothing makes me feel warm inside and out like a hot bowl of avgolemono soup. The Greek's version of chicken noodle soup, avgolemono soup translates to egg lemon soup, and is made from chicken broth, eggs, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.


The eggs are separated and the whites are beaten until light and foamy, then the yolks and lemon juice are whisked in and the entire mixture is slowly incorporated into the broth. Beating the egg whites like this creates a wonderfully thick and silky texture. I think the best way to describe it is "liquid velvet". It's me and Jeremy's favorite soup, hand down, and this is the recipe my dad has used for who knows how many years. He also puts celery in his, but I didn't have any laying around and it turned out completely fine without it. However, if you'd like to add some in just follow the same instructions for them as for the onions. Hope this helps keeps you nice and toasty on these cold winter nights! (It's also great at fighting off colds, protein from the eggs and chicken plus vitamin C from the lemons = happy immune system).



Ingredients:

1 Small Chicken, about 2.5 lbs, insides removed
1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Lemons
3 Eggs, with whites and yolks separated
3/4 Cup Orzo Noodles or Rice
3 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
2 Teaspoons Fresh Greek Oregano, or 1 Teaspoon Dried Greek Oregano


Remove the skin from the chicken and cut off the legs. Place the chicken and the chopped onions in a medium sized pot and add just enough water to where the chicken is barely covered by the water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water and bring it to a boil. After about 10-15 minutes of boiling, some froth should start to surface on the broth. Skim the froth off the top and discard it. Do this every 5-10 minutes of boiling. Boil the bird for an hour, or until it is cooked through. Preheat the oven to broil.


Remove the chicken from the broth and place it in an oven-proof pan, breast facing up. Use a slotted spoon to take out the onions and place them around the chicken in the pan. In a small bowl, mix together the juice from 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, half the oregano, and a teaspoon of salt. Drizzle it over the chicken and the onions, then place the pan in the oven and broil the chicken for 15 minutes or until it is lightly golden on top.


Meanwhile, add 2 cups of water to the broth and another teaspoon of salt and bring back up to a boil again. Add 3/4 cup orzo noodles or rice and boil until they're cooked all the way through, then remove the pot from heat and set aside.


In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg whites until a foam forms on top. Then mix in the egg yolks and the juice from the remaining two lemons until fully incorporated. Make sure the broth has sat at room temperature off of the heat source for about 10 minutes before this next step. Slowly ladle the hot broth into the lemon-egg mixture, whisking all the while.


Continue adding the broth until 2 cups of the broth have been incorporated into the lemon-egg mixture. The broth should be slightly thick and frothy at this point, like the photo above. Then whisk the lemon-egg mixture into the large pot of broth until fully mixed. Add the remaining oregano, then taste and add the rest of the salt and pepper if you'd like. Serve warm with the roasted chicken on the side.





21 comments:

  1. It's funny how it seems like the first instinct of many of us in colder climates is to mock warmer regions experiencing cold spells. But the construction of homes and heating systems makes such a huge difference! I was in Florida in February several years ago when a cold spell hit, and it was SO cold in the house where I was staying. It was nice to go for a drive in the car just because it had more efficient heat than the house.

    This soup sounds absolutely delicious. We're on the cusp of a cold spell here (it's currently 5°, and it's supposed to be colder tomorrow), and this would definitely hit the spot. I wonder if I can trick my vegetarian parents into eating chicken. (Muwahahaha...they'd never forgive me.) (:

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    1. Yes! It is crazy how terrible it is when you can't get your house warm no matter how hard you try. All the heat just floats outside :/ And wow, 5 degrees! Lady, I have a whole lot of respect for you right now. I always bundled up ridiculously in Oregon when it'd get into the upper teens, can't even imagine single digits!

      Re: the soup, I bet you could make it with a vegetable broth and it would still be just as tasty. It wouldn't have that signature "chicken noodle" flavor, but a good vegetable base would be delicious with it in its own way :)

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  2. This soup looks so good, but I have to say I am kind of intimidated by the whole "whisking eggs into soup without producing scrambled egg bits" issue. The last time I tried this...well. I think I had the soup too hot still. But the texture looks so amazing when done right! I think I will have to try again. :)

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    1. Yes, don't be frightened! Just make sure the broth has cooled for at least 10 minutes before trying to incorporate it into the egg mixture, and whisk whisk whisk like the wind! :) The texture is my favorite thing, so creamy yet airy.

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  3. Sounds delish, Eva...it's freezing today and I'm a bit stuffy...Quick question. Did I miss what we do with the broiled chicken? I don't recall ever having chunks of chicken in avgloemono soup.
    -Jenn

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    1. Hi jenn! You just serve it on the side. If you wanted to you could put pieces in the soup, but like you said, it is traditionally not incorporated into the broth.

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    2. I'll insert a little instruction at the end to make that clear, thanks for the query! :)

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  4. We made Avgolemono a couple of years ago, and I have been craving it like mad lately--citrus becomes my best friend in January. We used chicken stock that we had already made from chicken bones, but I love the idea of making a quick stock with a whole chicken then broiling that chicken and serving it alongside the finished soup! The texture of your soup looks so dreamy!

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    1. Thank you Brianne :) Making chicken stock from chicken bones is a great idea, too! I always forget to freeze the bones to use for stock later when I'm cutting them from whatever meat I'm using, but I feel like 2013 might be the year I actually remember!

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  5. Avgolemno has been a favorite soup for, like, four decades. I enjoyed it in a Greek restaurant in Portland in 1972. When I asked for the recipe, they gave it to me (!); it's been a regular on my soup menu ever since. Yummmm. . .

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    1. Awww awesome! I love it when restaurants are generous about sharing recipes :)

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  6. Since traveling to Greece a numer of years ago this has been my favourite soup, the Greek version of chicken noodle.

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    1. That is so great you got to visit! It is such a beautiful country, I haven't been since I was 11, hoping to go back within the next few years :)

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  7. I love those wooden measuring spoons! Where did you get them?

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    1. Thank you! I got them at this shop in Portland, Oregon: http://store.alderandcoshop.com/category/home

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    2. It was these ones, specifically: http://store.alderandcoshop.com/product/handmade-measuring-spoons

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  8. this sounds fantastic. It's so cold and dreary today and bowl of this soup sounds divine. I love those bowls by the way!

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  9. Hello! I love this recipe and made some last night. However the recipe I used, not yours :), called for 4 eggs! It has great flavor but I feel it is too thick...do you know of any way I can thin it out? thanks!!

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  10. Hello! I made this soup last night from another recipe and it is so good! However, the recipe I used called for 4 eggs and I think it is too thick...do you know of any way to thin out the leftovers? thanks!!

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    1. Hi Ilyse! The best way to thin out avgolemono soup is to get the soup you have warm and then whisk in warm chicken broth until the desired thinness is reached. If you find that the added chicken broth has taken away a bit of the lemon zing, whisk in some extra lemon juice as well. Let me know if this helps remedy your soup :)

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  11. I love your glass dome food cover...can I ask where you got it?

    btw, I just discovered your blog and have been scrolling through your posts for some time now. Fantastic recipes and your photography is wonderful. Makes me wish I could just stay in my kitchen all day!

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