Avgolemono soup is definitely my favorite winter comfort food. Rich and creamy, a truly flavorsome soup.
It’s also a very famous Greek dish that you probably already stumbled upon at least once. If not under the name Avgolemono (which is how we call it in Greece), maybe as egg-lemon chicken soup recipe, or chicken lemon rice soup recipe or something similar…
Avgolemono Soup is a favorite, family-get-together Sunday meal in Greece. It’s so warm and comforting. Plus, it’s made all-in-one-pot. Which I must say is pretty convenient when cooking for a bunch of people.
In some areas in Greece, they even serve it on Christmas day. It’s a very traditional Greek dish that holds a special place in every Greek’s heart (and maybe even yours too once you try it 😉).
And of course, what’s best about this soup, is the egg and lemon combination. It gives a nourishing, velvety feel to the soup.
What Does Avgolemono Mean?
Avgo-(egg)-lemono-(lemon). Avgolemono in Greek means any dish that’s thickened using egg and lemon. Whether that’s a soup or a sauce that’s accompanying a food.
OTHER TRADITIONAL GREEK EGG & LEMON RECIPES:
- Greek Lamb Stew In Egg Lemon Sauce (Arnaki Fricase)
- Meatball Soup With Rice Egg & Lemon (Yiouverlakia Avgolemono)
- Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Egg & Lemon Sauce (Lahanodolmades Avgolemono)
How this works and what does lemon juice do to the eggs? Eggs when tempered, tend to give a dish a very creamy texture. A more velvety and airy creaminess than any other thickening method can give to a soup or cream (like flour or cornstarch for example). That’s why eggs are always tempered when making pastry cream as well!
Lemon juice because of its acidity thickens the egg, therefore, helps to make the dish even more creamy. Some people think that lemon is added in order to kill bacteria and pasteurize eggs.
And surely an acid environment is deadly and unwelcome for many bacteria but not all. That’s why eggs are tempered by reaching a high enough temperature. In order to kill bacteria without cooking the egg.
What if the egg curdles?
An egg tends to curdle if it gets heated way too quickly. If you beat an egg and toss it in a hot soup right away than you’ll have a lovely omelet soup.
So in order to thicken a soup (or sauce) with egg, you have to bring the egg to the desired heat slowly. You do this by slowly adding the hot soup (pouring it threadlike) into the egg while you whisk constantly.
And once you have added about half of the soup into the eggs, you can then pour the tempered eggs back into the pot, and add the lemon juice to finish off.
How To Make The Greek Avgolemono Chicken Soup
It’s better if you use a whole chicken cut in parts and slowly simmer it for about an hour. This way, you make a sort of homemade stock. It’s healthier, (due to the collagen you get out of the bone marrow) and much more flavorful.
You can though, add your favorite chicken part (breasts, thighs) along with some storebought chicken stock, for a more speedy version of this soup.
Note: Don’t forget to skim off the foam on the surface for a more refined soup.
So after you slowly, (or quickly) simmered the chicken, you transfer it to a pan or bowl. Then pass the stock through a mesh strainer (affiliate), to remove any bones. Add the stock back to the pot, wait until it gets to a boiling point. Then add the short grain rice, olive oil, and the veggies.
Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and slowly pour the soup into the eggs, while whisking constantly. Transfer mixture back to the pot, and add the lemon juice. Always add the lemon right at the end, not straight into the eggs, as many recipes instruct.
The reason? For one, this way you have better control over how sour your soup is going to be. And for two, it thickens the egg, therefore, raising the chances for the egg to curdle.
As for the chicken, you may shred into pieces, and add to the soup. Or serve it separately, on a big serving plate, so everyone can get as much as they like (which is something we often do in Greece).
NO-FAIL Greek Avgolemono Tips
- Remove soup from heat, and let sit for 5-10 minutes for the temperature to drop. If you want to be 100% sure, then let it drop to 160°F / 70 °C that’s the temperature an egg needs to get tempered and the bacteria of salmonella to die (Yieks I know, but it’s definitely life-saving to know).
- Whisk eggs vigorously for a few minutes (until they start to look foamy) before you start adding the soup.
- Or use an electric hand whisk (affiliate). It’s much easier and the eggs will get even more airy and foamy.
- Whisk 1-2 tablespoons of water into the eggs. The less thick the egg mixture, the easier it will incorporate with the soup.
- When pouring the soup (using a ladle), start with small drops, until you have incorporated your first spoonful. Then pour another spoonful threadlike, and gradually ”raise speed” until you have incorporated at least ⅓ of the soup into the eggs.
- Always add the lemon right at the end when the soup is finished. Not straight into the eggs because it thickens them and may help curdle the eggs. Plus this way you have better control, over how much to add, and how sour you make the soup.
- A stainless steel bowl (affiliate) is preferred because it transfers temperature evenly throughout the mixture.
- Let the soup sit. The longer the rice stays in the soup the creamier and thicker it will get. Try making it at lunch and eat for dinner. It’s going to be reaaaally creamy. And yes, you can reheat Avgolemono just make sure you do it over low-heat!
? COOKING TIP: How To Whisk & Pour At The Same Time
In order to be able to whisk and pour at the same time (if you don’t have someone there to help you) place a dampened sponge cloth on your working surface and the bowl with the egg on top. This way it won’t go away while you whisk and pour.
NO-FAIL Avgolemono Soup (Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup)
- 1 1,5-2 Kg / 4 lb 6 oz whole chicken cut in 8 parts
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 150 grams / 5.2 oz short grain rice
- 1 stick of celery finely chopped
- 1 large carrot finely chopped
- 4 medium-sized eggs
- 2 lemons juiced
- ½ lemon zest
- salt and pepper
- In a large stockpot add the chicken and cover with 4 liters of water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium. Skim off any scum that forms on the surface.
- Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about an hour.
- Remove chicken from stockpot and set aside to cool. Then pass the stock through a mesh strainer to remove any small bones.
- Transfer back to heat and bring to a boil. NOTE: Make sure the remaining stock is about 3 liters before you add the rice. Otherwise, add a bit more water to it in order to achieve the right consistency. Add the olive oil, rice, carrot, and celery. Cook over medium-high heat until rice is cooked to completely soft takes about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set the pot aside for 5-10 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Using a ladle, take a spoonful of the soup and start pouring it into the eggs. Start with small drops and then threadlike while whisking constantly.
- Continue until you incorporate at least half of the soup into the eggs. Then transfer back to the pot.
- Add the lemon juice and zest and extra salt and pepper if needed.
- Either shred the chicken into pieces and add it into the soup or serve it separately. Whatever you choose, Enjoy!
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