Avgolemono – Greek Egg and Lemon Soup | BeyondCeliac.org
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Avgolemono – Greek Egg and Lemon Soup

From Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

Greek Egg and Lemon Soup

This is a hearty soup, so only serve a small portion for Easter Meal.

The original recipe came from one of those tiny Church cookbooks (only Greek recipes) from a friend, Sheila, who married into a Greek-American family.  She's changed it to their liking and I did as well, based on what I had and what I liked.  Some people (like me) prefer it extremely lemony – my husband does not.  I have always thought this soup was made just with rice.

My friend likes to add orzo, similarly to the many recipes I’ve seen that only quote orzo. However, I would think that a Greek recipe would not use orzo. Original recipes cook the whole chicken and use the stock.  Again, I think this would have been a recipe where the old layer or rooster was cooked until tender and the soup was made with the stock, perhaps with no chicken, with the chicken being used for other meals.  Some recipes use a large amount of just egg yolks, but me and my friend use whole eggs.  4 egg yolks is the equivalent of one whole egg - that is a lot of egg whites leftover, but just egg yolks gives a deeper yellow color and creamier soup, but it also adds to cholesterol. Sheila recommends the Imagine brand of chicken stock (yes, gluten-free) for flavor.  Use either homemade stock, purchase gluten-free stock you like, or carefully use chicken stock concentrate, which can be very salty.

Makes 6 servings:

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (48 fl oz.) gluten-free chicken stock or water plus concentrate
  • Medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks or celery, washed, quartered lengthwise and cut into small slices
  • 2 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into small slices (not traditional, but adds flavor)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon (add more to your taste.  If you add empty shell of lemon to soup it can become bitter.  I prefer zest and juice of one lemon)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) raw rice
  • 2 Tbsp. uncooked gluten-free orzo  (the more rice/orzo you use, the thicker the soup)
  • 2 whole eggs at room temperature
  • 8 oz. (250 g ) or more cooked brown meat chicken, cut into small pieces– roughly legs and thighs from bought rotisserie chicken.  Brown meat stays moister and Sheila's husband doesn't like brown meat for a meal.
  • Feta cheese crumbles (Optional, but this is my husband’s preference.  Sheila says no, that's not how Greeks eat Feta. This is true, but my husband likes it!

Directions:

  1. In a minimum 8 cup pan, gently cook onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until softening. Stir in raw rice and cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Add garlic, chicken, bay leaf, zest and juice of lemon, salt and pepper to taste and stock.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add gluten-free orzo if using and continue to cook for about 15 more minutes until vegetables are soft and rice and orzo are cooked.
  5. Taste soup and add more lemon, salt etc. to your taste.
  6. Break eggs into a 2 cup jug and whisk with an immersion blender.  Slowly add about 1 cup of stock from the pan (without any vegetables, etc.) and blend eggs and hot stock.
  7. Pour egg stock mix back into pan, stir well and turn off heat. This egg stock mix also thickens soup. If you boil the soup, the eggs can 'curdle'.
  8. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and some feta.
  9. Soup will thicken more as rice and orzo, sit so you might have to add more stock to your taste.  These proportions make a thick soup.
  10. If you make soup a day in advance, only do the egg stock mix as you reheat it to serve.
  11. Consider adding some chopped fresh mint, oregano (Sheila's family didn't like that), basil or dill. 
  12. Provide extra lemon wedges for lemonaholics. Make it your new chicken soup.

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