Comfort in a Bowl: Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemono literally means ‘egg lemon’ in Greek.  I don’t remember what inspired sampling this soup at a nearby Greek diner, but I was instantly hooked. Don’t let the idea of eggs in soup turn you off; this is 180 degrees different from egg drop soup. This week I made a jumbo pot of it, consuming 3 bowls without blinking an eye –  and am happy as a clam. It’s like the Greek version of chicken ‘n dumplings. Best of all, for all the smooth creaminess you taste, it’s lactose free!

  • 8 cups (2 quarts) chicken broth – vegetable broth would work too
  • 1 cup orzo (or long grain rice, but I prefer how orzo feels in my mouth)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 10 TBS fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 TBS grated lemon zest – or the zest of about 3 lemons
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh dill, slightly chopped
1. In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add orzo; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until orzo is al dente. (If using rice, add another cup of chicken broth. Simmer until grains are tender.) Do not drain; set aside.

2. In a bowl, squeeze lemon juice and zest. Add eggs and whisk until foamy and a bit thick. Gradually add 1/2 cup hot broth from saucepan, whisking constantly. Add two more 1/2 cups of broth, whisking after each addition. Whisk until froth increases and the color looks like light lemon or butter cream. (The orzo should stay in the saucepan with some of the broth).

3. Pour egg mixture back into saucepan and reheat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until egg cooks and soup slightly thickens. Do not boil, or eggs will curdle. The froth will remain on top but settle out as time passes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with dill sprig. Serve hot or cold.

As for a wine pairing, I enjoyed a 2009 Vidonya, a Vinho Verde from Portugal apparently. Light and crisp, but not acidic or sweet. (The picture makes the wine look dark as it’s on top of my dark coffee table). I adapted the recipe from Oprah. This recipe serves 8, but can be halved successfully.

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