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Avgolemono

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"I don't like to say that my kitchen is a religious place, but I would say that if I were a voodoo priestess, I would conduct my rituals there."
-- Pearl Bailey

This classic Greek chicken-egg-lemon (or just egg-lemon) soup has been a favorite of children for millennia -- hearty and cheering on a cold day.


Avgolemono is a soup I used to make from a package when I was little, only to discover later that the real thing is easier. Max, one of my superfineby that I mean 'best' -- click for how I came to use 'superfine' to describe my indescribable friend Max friends from Oly (who now lives all the way up in Seattle, boo hoo) first taught me how to make the real avgolemono -- but it's been so long that I don't make it anything like that anymore! For one thing, she separated out the yolks to use & I think it's delicious without doing that (& I never figured out how to use the whites). It would thicken more without whites I'd bet & so I recommend, as always, that you experiment! I only follow a recipe the first time myself, then I trust to instinct & memory (not that I would advise that for everybody but mine have rarely failed me).

Now that I pay more attention to the seasons, I make this soup almost every week in the winter. On top of being a wonderfully warming high-protein soup, it is so easy to make! I remember one Sunday winters ago when, after making my first-ever batch of banana bread (it was time, if you know what I mean about brown bananas), I settled down to watch the evening football game. When it came to the usual what-to-do about dinner & nobody was inspired, I decided to whip up some avgolemono (with orzo, my preference) while the boys ran down to fill up a couple of bottles with extra beer from the Batdorf holiday party. I kid you not, when they came back 15 minutes later I had the soup settling on a low, low flame. Now that's an easy recipe!

ingredients

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of uncooked rice or orzo
    If you use brown rice, start it cooking 20 minutes earlier.
  • juice of 6 small lemons
  • 6 thoroughly beaten whole eggs
  • 6 cups of broth
    Chicken broth is best, but vegetable or mushroom broth will work for vegetarians (but you may find it needs more salt). If you are one of those not-so-picky vegetarians I highly recommend using the chicken broth for the best flavor (I recently made both kinds & I am a self-confessed omnivore, but the difference really is amazing).
  • 1 sliced breast of chicken, if you want
    (it's very tasty & plenty filling without it)
  • a few sprigs of fresh dill for garnish
    (unless you forget, as I often do ;)
  • 45 minutes to an hour (20 minutes actual work time)
  • Serves 4 as main course.

instructions

In a medium pot, set the broth to boiling.

Add rice or orzo.

If you are going to use chicken, saute it lightly in a separate pan, then add it to your broth.


In a medium bowl, thoroughly beat the eggs.

Begin squeezing the lemons directly into the same bowl, whisking in the juice as you go.

Gradually add a couple of cups of the heated broth to the egg-lemon mixture to warm it, then slowly add the mixture to the broth.


Stir judiciously over a low flame. (Don't be anxious; it IS possible to overstir.)

Salt to taste.

Within a few minutes (a patient few minutes), something magical takes place.


You can serve it right away, but I like to start this soup early to give it some time to sit & gel. If it cools, bring it carefully up to temperature before serving. Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill.


Be warned: if you don't eat the whole batch at the first sitting, the rice or orzo will continue to expand, and you'll need to add water or more stock to thin the soup enough to heat and eat. Also, since it's full of egg, be careful if you're nuking it.



by that I mean 'best' -- click for how I came to use 'superfine' to describe my indescribable friend Max Describing true friends is hard... searching for a better way to say best I went to another good friend, visualthesaurus.com to look it up. Thinking of my indescribable friend Max (that's her on the right below, a picture that hangs on my wall of us in front of one that hangs on hers), I was naturally attracted to superfine & I mean that in the best possible way... Seriously though, if you're seeking inspiration, try the visual thesaurus.

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leftie My superfine friend Max. We love each other, even though we're separated by several hours now. -- photo credit: Gil Topete
photo credit: Gil Topete
This recipe was originally posted by Michael Potts in the Caspar Community cookbook.
I shamelessly ripped off his words, though I added quite a few of my own. That said...
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