Don’t take Gus Portokalos’ word that Windex cures all. It’d be more believable if he said it was Yiayia’s Avgolemono Soup. I first tried Avgolemono soup one cold day in Astoria many, many years ago. I had no idea what it was (let alone how to pronounce it), but my very-Greek server guaranteed I’d love it. Since I’m a perpetually cold, soup-loving girl, I obliged, and damn I’ve been hooked since. I now order it almost every time I see it on a Greek menu.
Sorry though guys, you won’t find any secret Greek grandmother tips here – This is strictly a base recipe I’ve compiled from many random recipes online. Again, I’d like to reiterate – I AM NOT GREEK! This is merely my adaption and a solid backup when I can’t have Yiayia’s version.
If you take the basic fundamentals from a good ol’ U.S. grandma’s chicken noodle soup arsenal, it should be just about the same as this. Only major differences would be the lemon and egg.
First thing’s first – when I make chicken soup of any sort, I always make my own broth while cooking the chicken. I understand it is not technically broth if I’m just poaching chicken and saving the liquid, but I don’t give a shit. Listen, if you’re trying to reduce “strange” ingredients and lower your sodium, just boil your damn chicken yourself and use the liquid as you would in any recipe. You’ll know what’s in it and it’ll be healthier.
Once you boil your chicken for approximately 30 minutes or so (depending on size, bones, etc.), remove carcass and set in a bowl to cool. I assume everyone is as lazy as I am, so if that is the case, pour the broth to the side and continue on cooking in the same pot to reduce dishes. A little oil added with the remaining chicken broth scum will be just perfect for some onions to cook in.
Because the pot was not technically clean, the onions should stick a lot more to the fat residue from the seeping chicken/stock. This is good! Let them caramelize, but just to a slight translucent color; don’t let the actual onions brown.
Then I chopped up my carrots into a small dice for sweetness. YES – I know it usually doesn’t come with carrots, but this is my recipe not yours.
Once the onions are quite translucent I add the carrots and keep stirring until they’re soft. Only then add the chopped garlic.
Assuming you don’t live in Astoria, NY or any other other predominantly Greek cities, it might be hard to find this – whatever this is (no idea; can’t read Greek). Orzo pasta would be a suitable substitute.
I’ve found many different conflicting recipes online as for how real Avgolemono soup is made. Again, this is clearly my interpretation. With that said, I sauteed the mysterious rice/pasta product with the vegetables. Essentially I’m toasting it to bring out its natural nutty flavors and retain its texture. Pictured here is also the complete amount of broth liquid I separated from the chicken breast (seems about 8 cups or so to me). Note this amount for below upcoming instructions.
For the 1 large-sized chicken breasts I poached, about 8-or-so cups (I’m not the best at eyeballing liquid, sorry) chicken broth was able to be set aside. If you are using store-bought broth, just expect to have that much on hand; otherwise, just use your best judgement with the residual liquid. While chopping your cooled chicken pieces, start adding the liquid to the vegetable mixture. I started with 4 cups, let it mix a bit, saw that wasn’t enough, then added more. Keep adding more and more until you feel the consistency (and flavor) is to your liking. I actually ended up using the entire bowl of saved-stock for this soup, and I would probably recommend you do so as well.
Keep in mind that the soup should be a little more brothy than expected, partly due to the fact that the rice-pasta is still soaking it up, and also the following egg mixture will bring a slight thickness throughout. Wait until the rice-pasta is completely cooked before you finalize your confirmed liquid amount. Then, turn the heat to very, very low.
Keeping with the same saving-dishes-theme, I cracked 2 eggs into the bowl that once housed the broth. Whisk them fully until a light yellow color, then slowly squeeze in some lemon juice while still continuing to whisk. To temper the egg mixture, pull out a serving spoon amount of warm liquid from the pot, and whisk like there’s no tomorrow. Continue, and with larger amounts each time, until you feel the egg mixture is up to temperature with that of the pot. (Always helps to have a whisking/tempering buddy FYI). Add the tempered egg/lemon mixture to the main pot and there you have it. The soup should thicken lovely and smell of a light lemon scent.
This is my non-Greek ass’ version of Avgolemono Soup. Still no substitute to the real thing, but a decent alternative when it’s not as easily accessible. Throw some chopped dill on it with fresh squeezed lemon juice and put on My Big Fat Greek Wedding (the original, of course). Yamas!
- 1-2 large chicken breasts (or comparable parts)
- Enough water to cover the chicken in a pot
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 0.5 cup rice-pasta (such as Orzo)
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 lemon
- Dill for garnish
- Cook chicken and make the chicken broth (Note: This can be substituted with store-bought broth and rotisserie chicken; and if so, skip to Step #3). Place chicken in a large pot with enough water to cover by about an inch or two. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce to medium, about 30 minutes if no bones. If bone-in chicken, check doneness about 45 minutes in.
- Once chicken is cooked through, set aside to cool for later. Remove all liquid to its own container as well.
- On medium heat, saute chopped onion with a little oil in same pot that cooked the chicken broth. Once the pot begins to brown, add chopped carrots. About 5 more minutes, add chopped garlic. Continue stirring until all vegetables look translucent, about a few minutes more.
- Before adding the rice-pasta, make sure there’s enough fat in the pot. If not, add a little more oil and wait until it’s hot. Add the rice-pasta and continue stirring to toast the grains. In only a few minutes, it should have a nutty aroma.
- Slowly add broth to the pot, one cup at a time. Continue mixing while adding more and more broth every few minutes. Give the pasta-rice time to soak up the liquid. You may end up using all broth like I did (about 8 cups or so), and that is fine. After about 15 minutes of adding liquid and mixing, the soup should be good. Reduce heat to low.
- Add the chopped chicken (you should have chopped it while waiting for the broth to heat up in the previous step). Taste for seasoning if it needs salt or pepper.
- In a separate bowl, crack the 2 room-temperature eggs. Whisk until frothy and light in color. Slowly add the lemon juice from 1 lemon into the egg mixture, continuing to stir.
- Using a large serving spoon or something similar, try to skim off only the liquid from the warm pot. With one hand (or help from a friend), slowly pour in the hot liquid to the egg mixture, while continuing to mix with your other hand. Each time add more and more warm liquid to the egg mixture; tempering it. Once the egg mixture has at least doubled in size and is of adequate temperature, slowly pour it into the pot on low heat.
- Stir everything just a few minutes until heated through (and hopefully nothing curdles), then turn off the heat.
- Serve as soon as possible (although, it still tastes good the next day) with chopped dill and some lemon wedges if you want.
Makes about 4 full bowl servings.