Friday, March 20, 2015

Avgolemeno Soup – Totally Epic

Avgolemeno is one of those soups that I’ve made many times, but rarely from scratch. It’s usually a “there’s nothing in the house” type of thing, made with a carton of broth. Even in its quick-and-easy form, it’s a delicious, and comforting meal, but when you use a fresh, whole chicken, it becomes epic.

By the way, I mean “epic” as in ancient Greek poetry, not hipster cliché. Okay, I mean it both ways. Speaking of whole chickens, that’s your big decision here. If you want chicken meat in your soup, then you’ll only want to simmer the bird for about an hour, or just until cooked through.

This way you get a nice broth, and the meat will still be flavorful when you add it back in. If you don’t want meat in the soup, which by the way, is how my wife Michele much prefers it, then keep simmering until the chicken falls apart and all the flavor has been extracted into the broth.

Some recipes call for orzo pasta in this, but I like the Arborio rice. I think it gives just the right amount of starchiness and body, but any rice or small pasta will work here. The perfect amounts of lemon and egg are also up to you, and experimentation is recommended. I really hope you give this classic Greek soup a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 6 Servings Avgolemeno Soup: 
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
3 quarts cold water
2 tsp salt at least, plus more to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely diced onion
2/3 to 3/4 cup Arborio rice, depending on how thick you like it
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch of cayenne

26 comments:

Daryl said...

Arborio rice: I think I like it a lot. :)

Σία said...

Very happy to see this recipe!
Avgolemono is the No 1 comfort food here in GREECE, espacially with beef meatballs (giouvarlakia avgolemono)!

Σία said...

Very happy to see this recipe! Avgolemono soup is the No 1 comfort food here in GREECE, especially with beef meatballs (giouvarlakia avgolemono)!

james smith said...

Will this keep in the fridge?
I ask because I once made a tomato and rice soup. After leaving it in the fridge overnight, the rice went on absorbing water and left a kind of pasty gloop that wasn't much like soup any more and spoilt it.

Stefanos said...

And in Cyprus too my dear Σία ;)

John, I honestly don't know how arborio rice tastes, but for sure we use Carolina rice in Cyprus (at least in my family we use it) and gives it an amazing taste. I just searched for arborio and looks like Carolina, but not entirely the same; you know better than me of course lol.

Also, we usually boil the chicken first and then we use that broth to boil our rice in it and then the rest ingredients.

This way, anyone who don't want to eat chicken can just enjoy the soup; the rest they can add some afterwards.

Now I got hungry...

WolfyDaddy said...

Great recipe!

I like the chicken meat in my soup. Usually, I cook the chicken for about an hour, then remove the meat, and simmer the carcass for another couple of hours.

John Young said...

Great Recipe! Made it today with a few modifications to save time. First in a pot I sauted the onions, then I poured in the rice (confession I only had orzo) let that brown for a few more minutes and then poured over quality, organic low sodium chicken broth (pacific), then adding the bay leaves. After letting the orzo cook I added the meat from a deli chicken and took out the bay leaf and let that heat through before adding the tempered egg mixture. I also doubled the fresh lemon juice because I LOVE Lemons. Salt, Pepper, and a shaka-shaka of cayenne and it was done! A great dish for spring! Thanks Chef for all that you do!

Michael Glavich said...

Wow, it's almost like you read my mind! I LOVE Avgolemono, and after having some at my favorite Greek-owned diner at lunch yesterday, I was thinking about finding a recipe to make it at home, and lo and behold, here it is! Thank you so much, chef John! I can't wait to try it!

Sarah Som said...

Hey Chef John! This is not quite a food request, but since I've been following you for a few years now I believe I trust you enough with this question : what do you think are the essential knives one should have in their kitchen? I hear/read different opinions on the matter but I would like to know yours!

Georgia Dabinett said...

Yum. Yes again,my husband says "You're alright, Chef John." Delicious dinner last night with roasted asparagus....heart egg and rice thickened soup....gluten free love. Going to try without rice and call it paleo.

Cyn2you said...

My deer sweet Greek mother-in-law would make Dolmades and cook them in a bath of Chicken broth with some lemons squeezed in. She would take some of the broth afterwards and thicken it into a sauce for the Dolmades, but the rest would become her base for a wonderful Avgolemeno Soup with small bits of Chicken and rice and a lovely squeeze of lemon juice. I think I fell in love with her cooking before I fell in love with her son. I can see her now (she has sense passed on) standing in the doorway of the small kitchen whipping the "bejeesus" out of the broth,egg and lemon juice, participating in the table conversation, while she made the soup. I learned a lot about Greek food from her.

teesha said...

Three little letters...OMG!!!!! When you said totally epic, you weren't kidding. This is the best soup I have ever had, period. thank you for all the effort you put into all these videos and funny little, smile inducing jokes. Anyway...I never leave comments but I just had to say a huge thank you for this one!

Barr Soltis said...

Chef John: I made this soup yesterday and it was simply fabulous and absolutely exceeded my expectations.

Thank you!

Rhonda said...

Never heard of Avgolemeno before...thank you Chef John for making this soup part of my life. I made it last night. I followed the recipe precisely and it came out amazing! This is my new favorite chicken soup, comfort food, cold-cure-all, and go-to meal (replacing your Bumblebee Soup). All the flavors blend really well to make a great tasting soup, plus I have tons of leftovers (to me, this is a good thing).

The Heimish Chef said...

Made this last night. Absolutely delicious. I was kind of worried it would be too lemony and acidic but the balance was perfect.

LFox said...

Hi Chef John...I have a bunch of chicken bone broth I made following your - chicken broth recipe. Would the flavor change much if I start off with 3qts of that broth and pick up from there with the sautéed onions and rice?...thanks

jamesbford said...

I noticed Chef John did not de-fat his broth. You guys who have made the soup.. did you perform this step?

Thanks in advance.

Jim Ford

Hairwoman said...

I've been following your recipes for a couple of years now, and every one I've tried has been yummy. This soup was a smash hit with my family, and I'll be adding to my regular weekday meal rotation. Your recipes make me look so good; I feel like a right proper chef.

Chef John said...

you are a proper chef! thanks!

The Heimish Chef said...

I have now made this soup 3 times. Just a couple suggestions. First, I cook the bird as you show in the video for about an hour and 15 min. Then I remove the meat and add the bones back to the stock and simmer for as much time as I have available (a few hours) or until the bones are brittle. This is the standard stock procedure and definitely gives a better mouthfeel.
Also, I would not add all the lemon juice at once. First time I made this, the balance was perfect with the full 1/2 cup. The second time it was too acidic. I was fine with it but my wife was not and I got why. This time I added half at first and then adjusted after tasting.
But this is my new favorite soup so thank you, Chef John!

Michael Ledesma said...

Chef John! I made this recipe last night and it was amazing. I used a stick blender to break down most of the arborio rice, and I skimmed some of the fat and used it to make a rue because I wanted a thicker situation. Then I used your dumpling recipe from your chicken & dumplings post and the result couldn't have been more perfect. The fresh thyme inside the fluffy dumpling paired beautifully with thickened soup/stew! You've been my sole food inspiration for about a month. Keep up the great work. I'll keep trying your recipes because, as always, I enjoy!

JSBowpat said...

Just made this soup today, and it is oh, so good! I followed your recipe and method precisely, and this turned out beyond my expectations! I can't wait for my kids to come so we can have this hearty, delicious soup for an easy Saturday afternoon supper with some crusty bread and a Caesar salad!

NoUseForAName said...

Hi Chef, can the Avgolemeno soup be frozen and reheated? And if so, when should the chicken be added, before or after freezing? Thanks!

beemo said...

Dear Chef John, I just made this Avgolemono soup exactly according to your instructions and it's fabulous, everyone here is raving about it. It's the first time I've heard of anything like this. And tomorrow with the remaining chicken I will make your Spicy Cold Rice Noodle Salad or whatever it's called

AFB said...

My signature chicken soup is made from a whole chicken, and the trick is to cook it a long time to extract the flavor, but REMOVE all the breast meat just after it's wholly cooked (maybe 30-45 mins). After that you can cook the rest of the meat and carcass for a couple of hours to extract everything. You can add the breast meat before serving and you'll end up with a powerful broth, with succulent tender meat. The dark meat tastes very good after all that cooking, too.

penwig said...

MERCY! Arborio rice - you're a flippin' genius! Made everything creamy! Just made this recipe and I almost cried it was so good. Home Sweet Home, awesome mother, cozy rainy day....evoked all these emotions. While the pinch of cayenne seems minor...it really needed it. I used a BIG pinch. Thank you for this recipe!