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.
Avgolemono soup is like the Michael Jordan of Greek food—definitely in the starting five of all-star Greek dishes. 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 in to a nearby Greek restaurant to sample their version of avgolemono. Which NBA player is the GOAT (greatest of all time)? Whose avgolemono soup is the GOAT, that is the real question! Ask 20 Greeks who makes the best soup, and all 20 will say their own. The truth is, when it comes to avgolemono, 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. Just don’t leave out the lemons. Or the eggs.
Avgolemono (avgo meaning egg, and lemono meaning lemon) works a unique Greek touch with just these triple threat ingredients added to hot chicken or vegetable stock. Of course, homemade broth wins over store-bought every time. Making your own broth tastes better, has less sodium, and infuses your house with great scents! With homemade broth, you can also add lots of chicken and vegetables to create a heartier dish. But if you ever find yourself short on time or energy, go ahead and use store-bought, reduced-sodium broth. That way you can whip up avgolemono and nip your cold in the bud, or simply fulfill those comfort food urges that peak in winter.
With broth on hand, you can set your table and be ready to eat in 30 minutes. Put away the Windex and get out your favorite bowls and spoons. This delightful soup is all you need.
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (canned or homemade)
- 1 cup orzo or long grain white rice
- 2 cups chicken (optional)*
- 4 lemons, plus more for serving
- 3 large eggs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large pot, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Add the rice and cook until tender (should take about 20-25 minutes). If you use orzo, it’ll take less time (about 15 minutes). Once cooked, reduce the heat to low simmer.
- If adding chicken, shred the chicken into small pieces and mix it in. Squeeze in juice from two of the lemons. Season with salt and pepper and stir.
- Meanwhile, prepare the egg lemon sauce. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until frothy and thick.
- In a separate bowl, juice remaining two lemons and whisk in the egg yolks. Slowly mix in the yolk and lemon mixture with the egg whites.
- While whisking the egg and lemon mixture, slowly drip a cup of the hot broth into the mix to avoid curdling. Continue stirring as you drip. Repeat with another cup of the hot broth into the mix.
- Pour the egg lemon mixture slowly into the rice/orzo saucepan. Keep the pan on low heat and stir constantly as the soup slightly thickens. Remove from heat.
- Season with more pepper and lemon to reach desired taste.
- Note: Avgolemono thickens the longer it sits. If not served right away, be sure to add more broth or water when warming up.