Avgolemono soup is definitely my favorite winter comfort food. This flavorsome soup has a velvety slightly thickened texture. Very nutritious with a nice and light lemony chicken flavor.
Avgolemono soup is a very famous Greek dish that you may already have stumbled upon. If not under the name Avgolemono (which is how we call it in Greece), maybe as egg-lemon chicken soup, or chicken lemon rice soup or something similar…
Avgolemono Soup is a favorite, family-get-together Sunday meal in Greece. It’s so warming and comforting.
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 😉).
Ingredients In Authentic Avgolemono Soup
The Authentic Avgolemono soup is made using a whole chicken. Preferably a free-range one because it gives much more flavor to the soup. Originally this soup used to be made with aged chickens as roosters were used to make other dishes such as Pastitsada.
There is even a Greek saying that goes like that: The aged chicken (female one) has the juice. Which I guess derives from the making of this soup. And today is used teasingly whenever a younger man shows affection for a woman older than him.
Now I'm not saying you should go searching for aged female chickens to make this soup. But a free-range chicken will be more than ideal. Also, the larger the chicken the better the soup will get.
And of course, you can make this soup without using a free-range chicken. Though in the case of using plain chicken it is better to use some chicken stock also, to ensure the soup doesn't end up tasting a bit bland.
As for the other ingredients to make this soup, you will need:
- Round short-grain white rice. To help thicken the soup. Traditionally in Greece, we use a Greek rice type called Glace rice which is a round-grain sticky rice. If you cannot find this, any short grain white rice will do. You can even use Arborio rice for example.
- Eggs. Again free-range are ideal to give this soup it's original flavor.
- Lemons. Now if you want to really taste the Authentic Greek flavor of this soup, you can dig even dipper, and even pick a specific lemon variety to make this soup. Lemon flavor varies between varieties. Greek lemons are very acidic and aromatic. Try to avoid sweet-scented lemons for this recipe like the Argentina ones. Instead go for a variety like: Greek Citron Lemons, Femminello Lemons, or any other Mediterranean variety of lemons.
- Although not in the old-fashioned recipe, carrots and celery are added to the modern version of this soup. As well as 1 or 2 dried bay leaves to break down the strong chicken flavor.
What Does Avgolemono Mean?
Avgo-(egg)-lemono-(lemon). Avgolemono in Greek refers to any dish that's thickened using egg and lemon. Whether that's a soup or a sauce that's served together with 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)
- Stuffed Zucchinis With Ground Meat & Egg Lemon
Eggs when tempered, tend to give a dish a very creamy texture. A more velvety and light creaminess than any other thickening method can give to a soup or cream (like flour or cornstarch). Think of creme Anglaise texture for example.
To temper the eggs and make the Avgolemono, you need to add hot liquid into the eggs and slowly get them to reach the same temperature as that of the soup. This is done by whisking the eggs constantly with a hand whisk and at the same time pouring the hot liquid into them. Very slowly and thread-like.
If hand-whisking is too straining for you, you may use an electric whisk like this one, though the soup will get foamier this way. Nevertheless, that does not matter much.
And What Does Lemon Juice Do To The Eggs?
Lemon juice due to its acidity helps to thicken the egg. So it's not just used for the delicious and appetizing flavor it gives to the dish. But also helps to give a thicker texture to the soup.
How To Not Curdle The Eggs
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 then 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 temperature 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.
So In Order To Avoid The Eggs Getting Curdled...
- Beat the eggs together with the lemon juice before you begin tempering them. The lemon juice when added to the raw eggs raises the temperature at which the eggs cook.
- Pour the hot liquid into the eggs very slowly. Starting with small drops and then raising the flow to threadlike. Meanwhile, whisk constantly and vigorously.
- Add at least half the amount of the hot soup into the eggs before transfering them to the pot.
And a bonus tip:Beat the eggs inside a medium-sized saucepan. Once you have added half the soup into the eggs, heat the saucepan over low heat and wait until the egg mixture gets to the same temperature as that of the soup. Then you can safely add everything back to the pot, leaving not a chance for the eggs to curdle.
How To Make The Greek Avgolemono Chicken Soup
To make Avgolemono Soup use a whole chicken cut in parts and slowly simmer it for about an hour. If you use free-range chicken simmer for about 1 hour and a half to two hours depending on its size. You should cook the chicken to the point the meat falls off the bone. This way, you get all the collagen out of the bone marrow right into the soup which is really healthy and repairing for our bodies.
So after you simmered the chicken remove it from the pot. You may keep it somewhere warm inside a pot or dish covered, to serve after the soup (as many people do in Greece). Or let it sit uncovered until it cools down. And then remove the bones and shred the meat into pieces to add it right into the soup (which is my preferred way of serving this soup).
Pass the soup through a mesh strainer to remove any little bones that might have remained inside. Add the strained soup back to the pot (clean the pot if needed first), and bring the soup back to a boil. Then add the round short grain rice, olive oil, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and simmer until the rice gets cooked.
Once the rice is cooked, take the pot off the heat. Whisk the eggs in a bowl or saucepan together with the lemon juice and lemon zest. Slowly pour the soup into the eggs, while whisking constantly. Add at least half the soup into the eggs and then transfer everything back to the pot. Taste for any additional seasonings. You may now mix the shredded pieces of chicken into the soup
COOKING TIP: How To Whisk & Pour At The Same Time
In order to be able to whisk and pour at the same time, place a dampened sponge cloth on your working surface and the bowl with the eggs on top. This way the bowl won’t move while you whisk and pour.
Greek Avgolemono Soup (Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup)
- 1 about 2 Kg / 4.4 pound whole chicken (preferably free-range) cut in 8 parts
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 150 grams / 5.2 oz round short grain white rice
- 1 large stick of celery (including its leaves) finely chopped
- 2 large carrots finely diced
- 4 medium-sized eggs (use 2 large eggs instead, if using free-range ones)
- 2 lemons juiced
- 1 lemon zested
- salt and pepper
- Add the chicken to a large cooking pot and add about 4 liters of water to cover the meat completely. 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. Add the olive oil and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low.
- If using a plain chicken cook for about an hour. If using a free-range chicken cook for about 1 and a half to two hours. Ideally, the chicken should cook to the point it falls of the bone.
- Remove the chicken from the and set it aside to cool. Then pass the stock through a mesh strainer to remove any small bones that may have remained inside the pot.
- Add the strained stock back to the pot. Clean the pot first if needed. And then bring back to a boil over high heat. Note: the remaining stock should be at least 3 liters, if not add a bit more water to it. Once it starts to boil, add the rice, carrots, and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice gets completely soft.
- Take the pot off the heat and set it aside.
- In a mixing bowl or medium-sized saucepan, beat the eggs together with the lemon juice and lemon zest. Do this using either a hand whisk or an electric whisk. Beat until the eggs look like they start to thicken slightly. Then place the bowl to sit on a dampened sponge cloth so it won't move while you whisk. Place the pot with the soup next to the bowl.
- 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 the eggs constantly.
- Continue until you incorporate at least half of the soup into the eggs. Then transfer back to the pot. If you want to be absolutely safe, heat the egg and soup mixture over low heat until it gets to the same temperature as that of the hot soup that's inside the cooking pot. Then safely transfer the eggs back into the pot with the remaining soup.
- Taste the soup for any additional seasonings. Debone the chicken and shred it into pieces. Add to the pot with soup and heat over low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve the soup with plenty of freshly ground pepper on top. And an extra squeeze of lemon too if you like.
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