Thursday, February 5, 2009
A new favorite - Avgolemeno (chicken soup with lemon-egg sauce)
Once again, I am Irish/English. No Italian and no Greek blood in me.
I am not sure why I really desired to make this soup in the first place. I don't know what made me search for recipes for lemon chicken soup but I am very glad I did. I think it is basically that I love soup and wanted something different. I am blessed to have a husband who is willing to go out on most culinary limbs with me and try something new.
This soup was so lovely and wonderful. I was not feeling well at all the day I made and ate it. Which makes me wonder -- I don't know how much I have mentioned before on this blog about my health but the short version is I have a chronic illness. This is new within the last couple of years and has been a big adjustment for me. Anyway, the soup. Yes, I was feeling really lousy but I was so determined to make this soup and I am happy that I stuck to it. The end result was well worth all the work and the soup made me feel better, really. I got a recipe from Cat Cora on the FoodTV website. I used orzo instead of alborio rice since I... well, I just wanted to, really. Rice didn't sound all that good in there to me, honestly. Tender cooked orzo however, really did.
Basically, the soup is a homemade chicken broth strained, cooked onions and dried pasta added in along with the cooked chicken meat. Then the whole thing is thickened with a tempered egg and lemon mixture.
I served it with bread and a salad with kalamata olives, goat's cheese, and a light vinaigrette. I was hesitate to add the egg mixture to all of the soup since we were going to eat the leftovers for lunch the following day. Many items thickened with egg will curdle when reheated since it can be just too much stress and I was scared of that happening to my leftovers. I am pleased to say that this soup did not curdle when slowly reheated over low the following day.
Avgolemeno (adapted from Cat Cora) serves 8
1 (3 pound) free range chicken
12 cups cold water
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 leek, cleaned and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and quartered
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
2/3 cup orzo
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a 6 to 8-quart stockpot, combine the chicken, water, and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; immediately reduce the heat to a very low simmer, and skim the foam from the surface. Add the leek, carrot, and bay leaves and continue to simmer with the chicken until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Remove chicken from the broth, and allow meat to cool. Strain the broth and skim the fat. (Place the broth in the refrigerator to make it easier to skim.)
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Dice the meat into large cubes; refrigerate until ready to use.
Return the broth to high heat, add the orzo and onion and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is almost cooked through, about 20 minutes. Add the chicken and reduce the broth to a low simmer.
In a medium sized bowl, beat the lemon juice, eggs, and pepper. Ladle 2 cups of hot broth into a measuring cup with a pourable spout. While whisking, slowly pour the 2 cups of broth into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir well to blend. Divide among bowls and serve immediately.