Monday, September 7, 2015

Avgolemono Soup

When I was a college student, I lived in an apartment with three other roommates and money was always tight. Since I loved to cook and had the most experience, I was quickly designated as the one who most often made dinner, while the others divvied up the chores of shopping, prepping and washing dishes. My goal back then was to see how far I could stretch our grocery budget and one of my tricks was to buy a whole chicken and have it one night for dinner. Then, I would make chicken salad sandwiches the next day and I would use the bones to make broth and add in the scraps of chicken with some carrots, onion and celery and also some rice, pasta or potatoes to make a filling soup. These days, I don't have to watch my grocery budget, but I still play this little game and I still almost always make chicken soup out of roasted chicken bones and bits of leftover meat.

The other night I roasted a chicken in the Greek fashion with Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Salt and Rosemary with some Onion, Garlic and Potatoes roasted in the drippings. The secret was to marinate the Chicken for a little while in the Lemon Juice and then squeeze some more on mid way through roasting. It was delicious!  Afterwards, I took all the bones and all the leftover drippings and onions and of the roasted Garlic Cloves and made a broth. I strained it and made Avgolemono or creamy Greek Lemon Chicken Soup. This is a really easy soup and if you want to make it with canned chicken broth, it would be great too, but I love the idea of using up leftovers. 

The trick to this soup is tempering the eggs which make the soup creamy. This means that you add some hot chicken broth to the egg mixture and then add the eggs back into the rest of the soup. At that point, you must keep the soup at a very low simmer for only a few minutes or the eggs might curdle. 

This soup is nourishing and satisfying as only creamy soups can and there's no cream in it.  The little bits of Orzo (I used DeLallo Gluten Free Orzo made from Corn) and chopped up chicken give it some texture. If you like, you can use rice but it will be a lot softer and I like the Orzo's chewiness. And, I like it creamy so I use less chicken broth. This soup is just a bowl full of lemony goodness!  Avgolemono is one of my favorite soups and I want to share this recipe with you.

Avgolemeno Soup

5 - 6 cups of Chicken Broth (preferably homemade using chicken bones, roasted onions and garlic, then strained) - less for thicker soup, more for thinner soup 
Optional:  1/2 small onion minced and 2 garlic cloves minced if not using homemade broth
1/2 cup Orzo (you can also use Rice)
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (can also poach one chicken breast in the broth, remove and chop up)
2 eggs
1/2 cup fresh squeezed Lemon Juice (about 2 medium Lemons)
Salt to Taste
Sprinkling of fresh ground Pepper

Heat the Chicken Broth (and add onions and garlic if not using homemade broth). Bring to a boil and add the Orzo. Cook until al dente.  Taste for salt and add if necessary.  Add in the chopped chicken and reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the Eggs and Lemon Juice together in bowl. Use a one cup measuring cup and scoop up broth and whisk into the egg mixture. Then slowly stir in the egg mixture. Cook for 1 -2 minutes more. Sprinkle with fresh ground Pepper and serve with a few Dill Fronds on top. 

Five Element Analysis

Soup is a Water Element food and the Eggs add even more Water. The Chicken Broth and Lemon Juice bring in the Wood Element. The Onions and Garlic contribute the Metal Element. I used an Orzo made from Corn, which contributes the Earth Element, but if you use regular pasta, which is made with Wheat, you have added more of the Wood Element. So, it is advisable to serve this soup with a meal that includes a Fiery food, like Salad and an Earth Food, either as a main course or a dessert to create a Five Element balance. 

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