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Avgolemono is a good choice for those who want a hearty soup that’s easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. (Heather Eyre/Daily Titan)




Avgolemono, the name of the classic Greek recipe that serves as the base for soups and sauces, is a simple dish with bases found in most kitchen cupboards, or inexpensive ingredients that can easily be get it at the grocery store.

The name avgolemono translates to egg-lemon, which are the defining flavors of the dish. It only requires five ingredients and is dairy free. The secret to its velvety texture is the careful mixing of egg yolks with hot chicken or vegetable broth. Pasta or rice, as well as shredded chicken are added to make the soup robust. Finally finished with fresh lemon juice and zest, as it thickens the soup becomes slightly tangy and surprisingly refreshing.

At its heart, avgolemono is a Greek version of every culture’s classic chicken soup, and it evokes the same soothing and healing prescription for a cold or sore throat. It can be enjoyed any time of the year, and it’s not uncommon for a Greek grandmother to have her own version of the basic recipe.

A batch of avgolemono makes for an inexpensive meal that can feed a hungry crowd. Kept warm in a slow cooker and served with chunks of sourdough bread, avgolemono is perfect for a lazy day. Divided into individual containers, it can be stored in the fridge and microwave for a piping hot meal anytime.

Because it travels so well, soup is a great dish to bring to a potluck. As a twist on the traditional chicken soup, a big bowl of lemony broth would be appreciated when delivered to a sick friend or a busy couple celebrating the arrival of a new baby.

Because this soup is dairy-free and contains only a few ingredients, for people with dietary restrictions, avgolemono is a nice option on its own or as a versatile sauce for other meats and vegetables.

It can be served as a side dish or as a main dish, and the flavor has an unexpected complexity that belies its surprisingly simple recipe. Dressed up or down, depending on the occasion, it can be accented with different vegetables, meats, spices and varying levels of spiciness.

The trickiest part of making this soup is tempering the egg yolks, which means you have to dilute them with a hot liquid. When you combine them with the hot broth, it should be done very slowly. Otherwise, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your soup.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken broth

  • 6-7 egg yolks

  • 1 cup orzo pasta (or long grain rice – arborio is nice)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (store-bought rotisserie works well)

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Add chicken broth and pasta to a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is tender.

  2. Put the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk lightly.

  3. Remove and strain a cup of chicken broth from the pan.

  4. While continuously whisking the eggs, very slowly add the broth to the bowl until it is combined with the eggs.

  5. Slowly stir the egg mixture from the bowl into the pot of broth while whisking continuously.

  6. Add the shredded chicken, lemon juice and lemon zest to the pan and simmer for five minutes until well combined.

  7. Garnish as desired and serve hot.

The options, alone or in combination, can increase the depth of flavor, aroma, texture and spiciness:

  • Vegetables: Sweet onion, green onion, carrots, celery

  • Spices: Garlic, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes

  • Garnish: Dill, chives, crumbled feta