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Avgolemono soup is a traditional Greek soup made with chicken broth, rice or orzo, eggs, and lemon juice. When well made, it has a rich citrus flavor and an almost creamy texture from the eggs. The soup can be served hot or cold, as a small appetizer or as a big bowl of warming, comforting soup on a cold day. Many Greek restaurants offer avgolemono soup, and it can also easily be made at home. Home cooks can also adjust ingredients for twists on the basic recipe.
The base of avgolemono soup is chicken stock, and it pays to use a high quality stock. You can make chicken stock at home if you happen to have part of a roast chicken hanging around, or you can purchase it at the store. Look for a chicken stock made with vegetables, if you can, as it will have a fuller flavor; if you're cooking for vegetarians, use a rich vegetable stock, and try to find a low-salt broth, if possible, which will allow the natural chicken and lemon flavors in the soup to come through.
If you plan to use small pasta like orzo in your soup, cook and drain them while you heat the stock, so that they are ready to mix in. You can also just cook rice in the same pot you will use for the broth to make avgolemono soup an easy one-pot affair. Cook one half cup rice for every six cups of broth you intend to use, and pour the broth right over the cooked rice to heat it.
As the broth is coming to temperature, whisk together two eggs, and pour in a small amount of warm broth, whisking it together with the eggs to prevent curdling. Then, add the egg mixture back into the broth and rice mixture, along with the juice of two lemons and salt and pepper to taste. Serve the avgolemono soup immediately, with garnishes to taste.
Some common variants on avgolemono soup add snipped dill or chunks of chicken. You can also create a sauce with avgolemono by blending chicken broth, lemon, and eggs but no rice and allowing the mixture to thicken up with the assistance of corn starch. The sauce can be poured over braised vegetables, pasta, and grains for extra flavor. This soup is fast and fairly easy to make, making it a good addition to the repertoire of busy cooks. You can also interest young diners in avgolemono soup by using small pasta shapes such as miniature bow ties or alphabet pasta.
I love this soup! Any Greek restaurant that has avgolemono on its menu will get repeat business from me. This is such a wonderful soup for a hot day, or when I have a bad cold.
I think I do like it with actual chicken, but if not, it's still delightful. They say chicken soup is good medicine for nearly anything, and if it's avgolemono, then that is certainly the case. I like it with toasted pita bread on the side, as a stand-in for saltine crackers.
I also grind a little black pepper in, just for a little kick. Complete wonderfulness.
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