Friday 29 June 2018

#readcookeat recipe : Avgolemono, Greek lemon chicken soup (A Family Recipe)

As soon as I saw the name of Veronica Henry's latest book, A Family Recipe (click through for my review), I knew it would be bursting with dishes to recreate for the #readcookeat challenge. I wasn't disappointed - I've already made flamiche aux poireaux, nachos and a hugely popular leftover nacho salad, and I still have several bookmarked recipes to come back to. There was one particular recipe that caught my eye though, as it also appealed to my passion for globe-cooking : a Greek soup called avgolemono.

p193 It smelt delicious and homely : she had put a chicken in to poach earlier, sloshing in all the ends of the unfinished bottles of wine in the pantry and handfuls of herbs. She took down the little recipe box from the shelf and leafed through the cards until she found the one she wanted. She knew the recipe by heart, but somehow she needed the ritual of finding the card with her mother's writing on it. Even after all these years, it was a connection to Catherine, the mother she had lost when she was only four.
Catherine had been a free spirit, by all accounts, and had spent her late teens and early twenties travelling constantly in search of the sun.
And the recipes that she had brought back from her travels, including the avgolemono, which was the Griffin family's favourite comfort meal.
She took the chicken out of the poaching liquid and strained it, then put on two handfuls of basmati rice to boil. She zested and squeezed the juice of three lemons, and separated three eggs. She was just pouring herself a glass of wine when her phone went.
Fortified by a glass of wine, Laura finished off the avgolemono, beating the egg yolks and lemon juice into the chicken stock, then whipping the whites before folding them in, along with the cooked rice. The creamy yellow concoction never failed to soothe her, and Kanga arrived just in time for her to dollop several spoonfuls into two bowls, then scatter finely chopped parsley, a sprinkling of lemon zest and black pepper on top.

I was intrigued, but I felt rather unsure about how well it would work - putting raw eggs in hot stock just seemed wrong and I had visions of a horrible scrambled-egg-in-soup catastrophe. I still wanted to try it though !

I had lots of leftover cooked chicken from the Sunday roast so I didn't follow the authentic recipe which starts with poaching raw chicken to get a chicken stock. Mine came from a stock cube, I'm afraid !


ingredients :

leftover cooked chicken
chicken stock (homemade or 2 chicken stock cubes)
3 eggs
juice and zest of 1 lemon
handful of basmati rice
salt, black pepper
fresh herbs

If making from scratch, poach the raw chicken in water, adding herbs and any leftover wine you may have in the kitchen, to create a rich stock. Once cooked, remove and shred the chicken, reduce the stock and put the shredded meat back in. If using leftover roast chicken, dissolve the stock cubes in boiling water and add the chopped chicken. Toss in a big handful of basmati rice. (I used a basmati rice with quinoa, as it was in the cupboard.)

I looked at a lot of different recipes for avgolemono - there are a huge number of variations - and there was about a 50-50 split as to whether you should beat the eggs whole or separate them. As I was multitasking (the kids didn't want to try my "scrambled egg soup" so I was cooking something different for them), I went for the simple option and beat the eggs whole, adding the lemon juice and zest.

Now, you need to be careful at this point to avoid the scrambled egg disaster that is just waiting to pounce ! While whisking continually, temper the egg mixture by slowly adding a little stock at a time to raise the temperature gradually without cooking it.

Once achieved, breathe a sigh of relief and pour the lemon/egg mixture back into the soup. Do not bring to a boil or the eggs will scramble! Taste and season with salt and pepper, adding a handful of fresh herbs if you like.

Check the rice is cooked and serve.

Well, I'll be honest, I was underwhelmed, because the lemon flavour was too delicate and it just tasted pretty much like my regular chicken soup, that I make on a Sunday night with the leftovers from the roast dinner. However, I was nervous of how this would turn out and therefore made a half-hearted effort, using only two eggs instead of three (also because I was the only one eating it). The descriptions of the soup that I read mention a thick, vibrant yellow soup with a silky, velvety texture, whereas mine was quite thin and the colour of normal chicken soup. If I made it again, I would definitely add in that extra egg (which is why I put three in the ingredients list) and reduce the quantity of stock to avoid diluting the texture. The lemon flavour needs to be intensified too, so maybe use two lemons instead of one, and a good handful of fresh herbs scattered on top when serving would give it some extra oomph too. It's got potential though, and is an interesting way of using up the leftovers after the Sunday roast and jazzing up your regular chicken soup.

Adding to the #KitchenClearout linky as it used up leftover roast chicken.

Also adding to the #readcookeat linky at Chez Maximka.

Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index - if you fancy trying some more Greek-inspired cuisine, how about these ?


  1. Thanks for sharing the recipe. The cookbook sounds good!

  2. That's an interesting idea, it sounds like it could make a good base for further flavour experimentation.


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