Soupa Avgolemono / Σούπα αυγολέμονο
Avgolemono soup (egg, lemon and chicken soup), the most popular in Greece and Cyprus, is known as Penicillin soup as it’s believed to cure all illnesses! It is simple to make, very nourishing and easily digested, with the eggs and lemon juice giving it a pleasant, slightly tart flavour. This is an excellent one pot family meal as the soup is made with the stock from the boiled chicken. Traditionally, the soup is eaten first, followed by the chicken.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
For the stock:
1 boiling fowl or chicken or chicken portions
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
2 sticks celery, cut into 3 or 4 large pieces
2 sprigs of parsley
2 bay leaves
A few black peppercorns
For the soup:
1 litre (2 pints) of the chicken stock
50g (2oz) Basmati rice
Juice of 1 large lemon – or more
Salt and white pepper
Chopped parsley to garnish
Rinse the chicken and place in a large saucepan (you can cut the chicken into portions before boiling if you are using a whole chicken), cover with cold water and add all the vegetables, bay leaves, peppercorns and season with salt. Cover, bring to the boil and skim off any impurities that form on the top. Lower the heat and cook the chicken for 1½ hours. Remove the chicken and keep it warm, strain the stock through a sieve, discarding the vegetables so you are left with a clear stock. Place the stock in a clean saucepan and bring to the boil, add the rice, salt and pepper and stir. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the rice is “al dente”, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes whilst you prepare your egg and lemon sauce.
Beat the eggs in a bowl with the lemon juice and add 1 cup of the hot chicken stock very slowly, whisking constantly. Pour the egg and lemon mixture back into the pan very slowly, whisking all the time, and return to a low heat for 2 minutes to warm through (do not boil or it will curdle). Taste and adjust seasoning – it may need more lemon juice. Serve immediately garnished with chopped parsley.
Serve the chicken after the soup with lemon wedges, using the same bowls, or you can use the cooked chicken for Kotopita / Κοτόπιτα / Chicken pie.
N.B. This soup can be made with 1 litre (2 pints) of well-flavoured ready-made chicken stock.