Chicken Avgolemono (Greek lemon chicken soup)
Updated: Apr 2
This dish is king in every Greek household. It’s the Greek penicillin, the cure for every illness, cold, flu, broken heart, homesickness. My yiayia even thinks its appropriate for breakfast on a 30+ degree day in Greece, when you're hungover, got home at 6am and just want to wash the night before off at the beach. Still not sure if I agree with her here.
My cousin thinks this dish is surely “the kryptonite” to covid-19. To that my little sister would say something along the lines of “Look if it was that simple, it wouldn’t be a pandemic”.
I do hope this soup brings you as much comfort as it does me. Although it might not, because maybe it's one of those things you have had to grow up on and to you it might just be a little weird.
It may not be the cure to Covid-19 but I hope it does make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside like you’re getting a nice big hug from the loved ones you might be distancing from. And we could all do with a little bit of that right about now.
*Make it Vegetarian*
I have also made a vegetarian version of this dish. This is probably sacrilege and brings shame to my family. But it still actually turned out great and I will definitely make it more often! While I’m not vegetarian, I do try to limit my meat intake to only a couple times a week. I think the technical term is “Flexitarian”. To make a vegetarian version, simply make a vegetarian broth! To do this I add extra onion, carrots and celery plus a couple large flat mushrooms for extra flavour. I will strain out the mushrooms and only serve the soup with the potatoes, carrots and celery. I don’t serve the mushrooms in the soup because I find the mushroom taste becomes a little overpowering.
1 whole chicken
2 celery sticks
4-6 cloves garlic
3 lemons (depending on juiciness)
1 ½ cups Risoni pasta or Rice
2 Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
Peel onion and garlic and chop into quarters. Cut carrot and celery in half or thirds (as much as you need for it to fit into the pot). Make sure you use the whole celery, leaves and all. Only trim off any yuk bits there may be at the bottom and top.
Throw onion, garlic, carrot, celery and whole raw chicken in a large pot.
Add 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, bay leaves and fill pot with water.
Turn stove onto a high heat, place lid on the pot and bring to the boil then turn the heat down so it's on a gentle boil. Put the lid on on a slight angle so there is a small opening for excess heat and steam to escape, this will stop it from boiling over.
Let boil for 2-3 hours. Check on it every now and then and top up with water if necessary. You want the water to be covering (or as close to) the chicken and veg.
After 2-3 hours, remove the chicken from the broth. The chicken will be really soft and it might break apart as you remove it. There will also be a lot of hot broth inside, just be mindful of this. Put the chicken on a plate and separate all the good meat i.e breast, thigh, drumstick meat from the bones, skin and off cuts. You might need to let the chicken cool for a moment till you can handle it with your fingers.
Add the bones etc back into the broth and put the chicken meat aside to serve later with the soup. Tip - You can also save some of this yummy cooked chicken aside in your fridge or freezer to add to other dishes such as salads, sandwiches, fried rice, stir fry etc.
Let the broth cook for another 1 + hours. Remember, the longer you cook the broth the more tasty it will be. Top up with water as necessary. Making sure there is a good amount of soup to serve.
A few hours later….
Pour broth through a strainer into another large pot. Or into a large mixing bowl and then return to the pot after.
Return the broth to the stove and bring to a gentle boil.
Pick the carrot and celery out of the contents in the strainer. Cut them up into bit size pieces and put aside with the chicken meat.
Chop potatoes into bite size pieces and add to the pot.
Throw in rice or risoni. Rice will take about 15 minutes to cook, risoni only about 10. Boil until rice/risoni and potatoes are cooked through.
Turn the heat off
Now for the magic part!
In a mixing bowl, beat egg with an electric beater until foaming. If you don’t have an electric beater, you could probably use a magic bullet or blender. You can also whisk by hand. Squeeze in juice of 3 lemons and continue to beat. Ladle a little broth out of the pot, try to get only broth and no rice. Blow on the ladle of broth to cool it down a little. Slowly pour into the egg and lemon mixture and continue to beat. Repeat this step 2 to 3 more times until the egg mixture is foamy and a little warm. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot of soup, stirring the broth at the same time. Your soup should turn into this nice white, creamy, fluffy texture!
Note* Make sure you don’t pour hot broth straight into the egg mixture, or pour the egg mixture straight into the soup! Remember its raw egg in there and if you pour it into hot soup, it will cook and you get scrambled eggs! So by ladleing small amounts of broth into the eggs, you will slowly bring the egg mixture closer to the temperature of the soup while gently cooking it at the same time.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed! I like to add a fair bit of pepper, it goes so well with the lemony taste!
Throw all the chicken and veggies back into the broth and serve! Or you can leave the chicken and veggies on a plate and let each person add what they want into their one bowl of soup!
I decided to chop all the carrots and celery into small pieces when I made this batch. It made picking the carrot and celery out afterwards a lot more tedious, would not recommend.
Separating the chicken from the bones etc
Ok.. that's all the photos I have, soz I forgot to take more.