I love the versatility of eggs. They’re my favorite go-to protein when I need something simple, enjoyable, and fast. I definitely don’t reserve them for breakfast, either. In fact, I think I probably eat more eggs for dinner—atop a crisp salad or whipped into a quick frittata—than I do for breakfast. Since I’m regularly looking for new ways to incorporate them into my meal plans, it makes me uber-happy when I find something as unique as it is delicious to add to my rotation. One of my more recent discoveries is the iconic Mediterranean soup, Avgolemono, a belly-warming concoction that takes mere minutes to prepare and contains only a handful of ingredients.
I‘ll be honest, when I first heard of Avgolemono, I was more than a little skeptical. I imagined the soup to be somewhat of a thick and gluey, sour savory custard, with mushy, porridge-like rice, and when prepared improperly I bet this could be the case. However, when prepared with care and minimal, quality ingredients, Avgolemono is downright heavenly. After my first taste, I was completely hooked!
To me, this soup is the pure embodiment of ultimate comfort food. The delicate and flavorful broth is not heavy or gummy at all. Quite the opposite, actually: the egg adds a luxurious silkiness that almost makes the soup taste creamy, even though it contains no dairy. The chicken and rice add sustenance and texture, and the lemon is definitely present, though not at all overbearing. I’ve come to lean on Avgolemono whenever I’m feeling under the weather, and it was one of the only things that always sounded appealing to me during the frustrating and mystifying months of dining while pregnant. I only wish I had known about this stuff in college. It seems like it would have been a very welcome meal after a long night out.
I usually have a freezer full of homemade chicken stock on hand, so I will frequently make this with leftover chicken and my frozen stock. For more about making your own stock, read “Bone Broth: It Really Is a Big Deal.” If you don’t have chicken stock or cooked chicken on hand, prepare a broth by covering a whole, small farm-fresh chicken with cold water. You may add additional aromatics, like onions, celery, carrots, and herbs to the mix as well, if you’d like. Simmer until the chicken is tender. Strain solids from the broth and let chicken cool enough to handle before pulling off the meat from the carcass. Add rice to reserved broth, and proceed with the recipe below.
2 quarts homemade chicken stock
⅔ cup brown rice or orzo pasta (note cooking times vary in instructions below)
3–4 cups cooked chicken, diced small
2 lemons, juiced
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
1. Bring stock to a boil in a large pot. Add rice or orzo, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid, and simmer until rice is tender, about 45 minutes, or until orzo is tender, about 5 minutes. While the rice or orzo cooks, whisk eggs with lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Add chopped chicken to broth, and heat through.
2. Slowly whisk one ladleful of broth into the egg/lemon mixture. Add a second ladleful, and whisk until combined.
3. Slowly add egg mixture back to soup, whisking constantly. Cook until broth thickens slightly, but be careful not to boil or the egg will curdle (Don’t worry if it does, though. It will still taste good, though might not look quite as nice). I repeat DO NOT BOIL! If you have any leftovers, heat them gently on stove. Garnish soup with parsley to serve.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
·chemical- and hormone-free meat
·pastured-raised, organic eggs
·whole, unrefined grains
·virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
·whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
·pure, clean, spring water
·raw and/or cultured milk and cream products