Greek Lemon-Egg Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)
Homemade chicken broth is seasoned with lemon juice and thickened with eggs and served with shredded chicken and orzo for a simple yet comforting soup. The eggs are incorporated using ‘tempering”, a cooking technique where the cold or room temperature ingredient is slowly and steadily raised by incorporating hot liquid. In this case it keeps the eggs from curdling when being added to the soup – the goal isn’t egg drop soup! Tempering the soup may seem like a daunting task but the result is a creamy, silky soup that is sure to bring warmth to the chilliest of winter days. The Greek term avgolemono refers to the sauce-like mixture of the eggs with the lemon and chicken broth.
While the homemade chicken broth really makes this soup, if you are in a rush or taking a sick day and are looking for a quick fix, then use eight cups of store-bought chicken stock (some butchers make their own high-quality broth and sell it) and shred some rotisserie chicken.
If reheating this soup, add it to a saucepot and bring to a simmer, not a boil, over medium heat, adding a bit of water if necessary.
1 (3½-pound) whole chicken
1 large yellow onion, quartered
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
Kosher salt, as needed
½ cup dried orzo pasta
3 eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slices, seeds removed, for garnish
Freshly cracked black pepper, for garnish
Fresh dill, for garnish
Place the whole chicken in a large (7-quart) Dutch oven with the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let cool. Shred the chicken and set aside. Add the bones back to the pot and continue to cook for an additional hour, uncovered. Strain the broth into a large mixing bowl and discard the bones, vegetables and aromatics. Season the broth to taste with salt.
Return the strained broth to the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Set aside 2 cups of the broth. Add ¾ pound of the shredded chicken to the soup (reserve the rest for another use).
Add the eggs to a medium bowl and whisk until frothy and the eggs fall in ribbons. Slowly add the lemon juice while continuing to whisk. Temper the eggs by slowly adding the reserved chicken broth in a thin stream. Add the egg/ broth mixture to the pot, stirring to combine. Cook until the soup thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Do not let the mixture come back to a boil.
Ladle into warmed soup bowls. Garnish with lemon slices, cracked black pepper and dill and serve hot.
Serves 4 to 6.