HEALING CHICKEN SOUP WITH LEMON SAUCE (AVGOLEMONO)
Avgolemono literally means ‘egg-lemon' in Greek. It is a term used to define soups or sauces made with eggs and lemon mixed with broth. The result is a creamy, silky yet tangy sauce that is enjoyed by all. Well, not by ALL. I actually never liked this soup as a child and refused to eat it until I was 29 years old. I never liked it and if I ever said this out loud I’d have a symphony of “Agh’s!” surrounding me in disbelief. A Greek who doesn’t eat Chicken Avgolemono Soup is not a Greek (a bit like the lamb situation in the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’) It wasn't until I fell pregnant with my first born that I craved it. At around 7 months pregnant I started growing a taste for this deliciously healing soup and now I can’t get enough of it. If I told you the reason I’m sure you would understand.
When I was 11 years old I became very ill with gastroenteritis and was hospitalised for over a week. Prior to being admitted, I was violently sick at home and my poor mother was beside herself. She knew that rice was one of the foods that could improve the situation (BRAT Diet) so she tried to feed me boiled rice with a squeeze of lemon. Did I get better? Nope. So you see the thought of rice and lemon together stayed in my memory as a food I never wanted to eat again. In fact I didn’t eat rice until I was 18 years old. The thought of it reminded me of the illness. However thanks to my pregnancy, I began eating Avgolemono Soup again and I've never looked back! It is one of those soups that's like a big warm hug. It is soothing, warming and comforting. In fact every Greek mother makes a pot of this soup every time a family member is unwell to speed the body's ability to recover from illness.
Okay, so back to the recipe. If you’ve ever thought of cooking this soup, the focus is how to perfect the Avgolemono Sauce. The stress about how much lemon juice to add or whether to beat the egg whites first before adding the yolks or to omit the yolks altogether is a common question amongst Avgolemono lovers! Follow my instructions and you won’t fail. Again, my recipes are simple, easy and uncomplicated. I guarantee you’ll like this version and I write this with a smile on my face because everyone thinks their family’s version is the best one so I will now say “My version is the best one” hahahaha
A few things to note. When making the stock, I use the drumsticks and chicken carsass. The reason for this is because the bones make a very tasty broth and I like to use the drumstick meat for the soup because it is tender and juicy. Others prefer to use the whole chicken, therefore the recipe gives you the option to use one or the other. Also there is no magic to making a creamy Avgolemono Sauce. Just add all the ingredients together (making sure the chicken stock has cooled down). Using a NutriBullet or blender does a great job in whizzing it together as the speed creates that creaminess. Enjoy x
Preparation and Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
1 whole chicken cut into four
4 chicken drumsticks and 2 chicken carcass
1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
4 litres water
2 heaped tsp sea salt
1 heaped tsp pepper
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 eggs at room temperature
1 heaped tsp gluten free corn flour
1/2 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
In a large deep pot filled with 4 litres of water, add the chicken, sea salt and pepper. Bring to boil and skim off any impurities until the chicken stock is clear. Reduce heat, leave uncovered and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove chicken from stock and strain into a clean pot. Keep aside 1 cup of stock for the lemon sauce.
Allow chicken to cool down and shred meat into small pieces. You will need at least 2 cups of meat to add to the soup.
Bring the stock to boil again and add the rice, stirring well for a minute. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Once cooked add the chicken pieces to the pot of soup with the cooked rice. Bring to boil again for a few minutes. Turn off heat and prepare to make sauce immediately.
Using an electric beater, add to a deep mixing bowl or blender (I used the NutriBullet) the lemon juice, eggs, corn flour, water and chicken stock (make sure stock for sauce has cooled down). Beat until all ingredients are combined and creamy.
Pour immediately into the soup and using a spoon stir the lemon sauce into the soup.
Serve hot! If soup is too thick just add more water and bring to boil before serving.
Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve with toasted bread and feta cheese.