Sunday Dinner: Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemono is a Greek soup (or sometimes a sauce) made with egg (avgo) and lemon (lemono) and usually chicken broth. I am not Greek. But my husband is and so I learned to make this soup the way his mother makes it, because… Well, because I wanted to, I guess.

This soup is the one a lot of Greek mothers make for their kids when they are sick, and it is a very nice comfort food. It’s plain but not bland, simple enough to not offend most palates. But it also has a bit of zing and enough flavor complexity to be eaten even when no one is ill. It is healthy and filling, and definitely a welcome dish on a cold, rainy day. 🙂

There are hundreds of variations of this soup. Some use milk. Some use cornstarch. Some use whole eggs, some use rice. I’m doing the one my mother in law makes. I hope you like it! Here goes. (It’s really easy.)

So step one is you need a great chicken stock. I am old fashioned (being raised by an Italian grandmother will do that, lol) so I make my own stock by boiling the carcass of a previously roasted bird. If you are unfamiliar with this process (and it shocks me how many people are) all you have to do is take a chicken which you have roasted and eaten, pick off all the remaining good meat and set it aside (for sandwiches or whatever) and put the whole thing – bones, skin, jelly-broth and all – into a stock pot, cover it with water, and boil it for about two hours. Then strain it and you’ll have a fantastic, and pretty much free, chicken stock. And no gross boiled chicken to eat (how do people deal with that???)

Take your stock and bring it to a boil. Add some orzo pasta. I usually use half a box, which is maybe like a cup? A cup and a half? Don’t sweat it, just dump it in. You’re cooking here, not building a rocket!

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Pouring the orzo into the stock. (not sure why I thought this needed a photo but whatevs)

So while that cooks you get your egg-lemon ready. This is the only “trick” to this soup. You need about 2 lemons juiced, and 3 or 4 egg yolks. (again, let’s not get all fussy and measure. Don’t ruin this with math!) You can fry up the leftover egg whites and serve them to your family to tide them over until the soup is done. 🙂

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Be sure to squeeze the lemon over a strainer. Because lemon seeds in a soup are not good.

So you whisk up the eggs and lemon, in a bowl. Then you do a thing called “tempering” which means you pour a little bit of the hot, boiling soup/broth into the eggs, whisking all the while, so that your eggs don’t scramble. I think two ladle-fulls are plenty for this task. Then take the tempered egg/lemon mixture and dump it into the soup. Be sure to stir it well. I like to let the soup come back to a boil because I’m always nervous about raw eggs but that’s just me.

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Tempering step one: pour a ladle of hot broth into the egg-lemon.
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Tempering step two: pour the tempered egg-lemon into the pot.

That’s it! You can top with freshly ground black pepper and serve this with a crusty bread, and it will make a fine meal anytime.

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Some people call this “yellow soup” which will make complete sense when you see it. It’s very yellow.

I’m going to try to get better about my “sunday dinner” blog posts, because taking crappy iPhone photos of my cooking process is super fun for me. Let me know what you think! And if you make this (or any of my other recipes) I’d love to hear how they came out.

Tell me what you think!

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