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