Greeks have a fix for every ailment. And no, it’s not Windex as seen in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But if you do have an itch to spray some Windex on something, feel free to aim your spray bottle towards the direction of my windows because half the time I can’t even see out. What Greeks actually use for home remedies and cures are lots of herbs, vegetables, and juices. For example, to fight the common cold, they brew a hot cup of tsai tou vounou (Greek mountain tea). Sprigs of mint are used to prevent an unsettled stomach or used as an aromatherapy for migraine relief. In the frigid winter months, a big bowl of avgolemono soup is a popular cure all.
If you were to make a basketball all-star team of Greek food, avgolemono soup would be on the starting five. Avgolemono soup is like the Michael Jordan of Greek food. Lucky for you, it’s not hard to find. You probably know someone who makes this traditional Greek soup, and if not you can drop into a nearby Greek restaurant to find their version of avgolemono soup on the menu. Just like the great debate of which basketball player is the GOAT (greatest of all time), there’s a debate on who’s avgolemono soup is the GOAT. Ask 20 Greeks who makes the best soup, and all 20 will say theirs is. The truth is when it comes to avgolemono soup, it’s all great. How you make and enjoy your soup will be the best—for you. Add more lemon if you like lemon, use more rice or orzo if you want a thicker soup, don’t add chicken if you don’t like meat. Avgolemono soup is easily altered to preferred taste.
Avgolemono soup is defined by the combination of egg and lemon (avgo meaning egg, and lemono meaning lemon) that’s added to hot chicken or vegetable stock. When it comes to the broth I prefer it be homemade in order to reduce the sodium content. Plus, making your own broth tastes better and the chicken and vegetables can be added to create a heartier dish. But if you ever find yourself short on time or energy, go ahead and use store bought broth (just be sure to get the cans that are reduced sodium). That way you can whip up avgolemono and nip your cold in the butt, or quickly make it to fulfill those comfort food urges that peak in winter.
This recipe demonstrates the basics of avgolemono that begins with boiling pre-made broth and ends up on your table and ready to eat in 30 minutes. Put away the Windex and get your favorite bowl and spoon ready, this delightful soup is all you need.
- 10 cups chicken or vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
- 1 cup long grain white rice or orzo
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup lemon juice
- pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked chicken (optional)*
- Boil the chicken broth in a large saucepan. Add the rice and cook until tender (should take about 20-25 minutes). If you use orzo, it’ll take about 7 minutes. Season with pepper and reduce the heat to low.
- Meanwhile, prepare the egg lemon sauce. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until frothy. Whisk in the egg yolks and lemon juice.
- While whisking the egg and lemon mixture, slowly incorporate a cup of the hot broth to temper the liquids and avoid curdling.
- Add the avgolemono mixture back to the saucepan and stir together until the soup slightly thickens. Remove from heat.
- If adding chicken, shred the chicken into bitesize pieces and add mix into soup.
- Season with more salt, pepper and lemon to reach desired taste. Serve warm and enjoy!
Also, the soup will thicken the longer it sits. If you don’t serve right away, be sure to add more broth or water when warming up.