This is the perfect time to share this wonderful, tasty Greek soup which I think is the Greek version of the Jewish penicillin chicken soup. It’s comforting, good for the soul and a meal in it’s self, which I find a lot of soups lack and need bread to turn it into something that keeps you satisfied like a supper would. My reason for making it today is because my mum is a little under the weather and she loves this soup and it’s not spicy like most of the soups I make, ( she’s not keen on spice ) also we’re due for another cold snap. Where is our spring?
I have lovely memories of this soup whilst holidaying in Cyprus many years ago, enough years ago that it was the time when getting home in the early hours was the norm and didn’t need a three day recovery!! We found a little taverna that at 2am started to serve this soup which for me was a better option than a kebab, lots of the hungry clubbers had a bowl of soup followed by a kebab! It was served to crowds of people well into the early hours. I’m not sure if it was for medicinal purposes in the hope of not having a hangover but whatever the reason it was a great way to end the night.
That’s my memory of Avgolemono but to a Greek Cypriot they would have just grown up with it. I’m sure they will all remember their yiayia ( Greek grandmother) cooking it if they felt poorly or on arrival from a long flight often transported in a big pot wrapped in a tea towel or keeping warm on the stove.Traditionally it’s served at Christmas and Easter and often followed by a feast, I can easily have this for supper. It’s perfect for fussy children especially if they turn their noses up at veg or strong flavours. It’s very easy to prepare and with very few ingredients it’s definitely worth trying and I’m sure you will make it again and again.
I haven’t tweaked the traditional recipe I was given but I do add more rice, I can’t help that bit of extra for luck, so the bag gets an extra shake, also I use more lemon and put extra on the table but that’s just a personal choice. Below I will put a basic recipe then you can decide if you want it with extra rice which I think makes it into more of a filling bowl of goodness but if you are going to follow with a full on feast then leave it as it is, providing wedges of lemon for family to add after the taste test. As with so many traditional recipes there will always be different variations, I’ve shared the easiest version of this recipe and the one I use the most for ease and quickness, you could of course add celery, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns and onions to the water when boiling the chicken then remove before adding the rice, if you do this then I wouldn’t bother with the stock cubes. I’ve done both and both are delicious!
As I mentioned it’s very simple to make, the only bit that can be a bit tricky is making sure the eggs don’t scramble. If they do don’t despair it’s not the end of the world it’s happened to me, now I just find it fun getting it to work. Just go for it, try it, enjoy it.
You will need: A pot big enough to hold your chicken along with enough water to cover.
2 chicken stock cubes
125g long-grain white rice, rinsed
4 large eggs
Juice of 2 lemons ( extra to serve )
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash the chicken and place into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to the boil. Remove any froth that comes to the surface when it begins to boil. Cover and simmer for approx 11/2 – 2 hours or until thoroughly cooked through.
Carefully remove the chicken and put to one side to cool. Spoon off any excess fat from the stock before measuring it and adding water to make it up to 1.7 litres ( 3 pints ) Dissolve the stock cubes in a little of the water then add back in to the stock and return the pan to the heat.
Add the rice, bring back to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20-25 mins or until the rice is cooked, then remove pan from the heat.
Break the eggs into a large bowl. Beat lightly gradually adding the lemon juice. Next, take a ladleful of the soup and slowly pour this into the eggs, beating constantly to avoid curdling. I use a whisk. Repeat this process with two further ladles of soup remembering to beat constantly. Then return the egg mixture to the remaining soup in the pan.
Adjust the seasoning with some salt and pepper, give it a good stir and leave to stand off the heat. Meanwhile, bone the cooked chicken and cut into fairly small pieces. If necessary, re-heat the soup very gently to prevent curdling and serve with the chicken added to it.
Serve in warm bowls with extra wedges of lemon and enjoy.
Remember this soup is perfect if you or someone you know is feeling poorly.