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Eric Akis: Lemony Greek-style soup is a palate-awakening delight

Avgolemono a simple chicken and rice soup flavoured and thickened with lemon and egg
Avgolemono, Greek-style chicken and rice soup enriched with lemon and egg. ERIC AKIS

If you’re looking for a sustaining, simple dish with a pleasing tangy taste, consider making Avgolemono, a Greek-style soup with a palate-awakening flavour and interesting texture.

Avgolemono, pronounced “ahv-goh-LEH-moh-noh” in English, means “egg-lemon.” Both are key ingredients in soups, sauces and other dishes made in this fashion.

In its most basic form, the soup is made with seasoned chicken stock or broth and rice or orzo (rice-shaped pasta), thickened and flavoured with a mix of egg and lemon juice. Heartier versions of the soup, such as my recipe, contain bits of chicken meat.

Avgolemono soup has been made for eons, so when reviewing recipes for it, I was not surprised to find variations in how it’s made, with the biggest difference in how eggs are used.

In some recipes, including my own, whole eggs are used, while other recipes only use egg yolks. In other recipes, eggs are separated, the whites are beaten, and the yolks are mixed into them.

No matter what form of egg you use, to help prevent the egg from curdling, some hot stock (or broth) is slowly mixed in to temper it before the egg/lemon mixture is added to the soup. That mixture is then stirred into the soup.

Shortly after that, it’s ready to ladle up.

To make a meal, you could serve the soup with warm wedges of pita bread and a nice green or Greek-style salad.


Greek-style chicken and rice soup for two, flavoured and thickened with lemon and egg.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

Makes: two servings

2 3/4 cups chicken stock or broth, plus more if needed

1/4 cup long-grain white rice

1 (6 oz./170 g) boneless, skinless, chicken breast or thigh, cut into small cubes (see Eric’s options)

1 large egg (see Eric’s options)

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed

• salt and ground white pepper, to taste

• chopped fresh dill or parsley, to taste

Place stock (or broth), rice and chicken in a small to medium pot, set over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Lower heat as needed to maintain the gentle simmer. Simmer soup stock until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

While soup simmers, crack egg into a bowl and beat well. Beat in the lemon juice.

When the rice is tender, scoop out 1/2 cup of the stock (or broth) from the soup and slowly mix it into egg/lemon mixture, tempering it. Pour the warmed egg mixture into the soup in a thin stream, stirring continually. Cook soup another minute or so.

Taste the soup and add a bit more stock, if you prefer it thinner, or add a bit more lemon juice if you want it tangier. Season the soup with salt and pepper, ladle into warm bowls, sprinkle with dill (or parsley) and serve.

Eric’s options: If you have leftover cooked chicken breast or thigh from another meal, cube and use one cup of it in the soup instead of the raw chicken called for.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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