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So my second post is up much sooner than I thought it would be! The Mister has been attacked by a vicious cold and has been sitting hugging a box of tissues for the past couple of days. So yesterday we had egg-lemon chicken soup for dinner. A bowl full of goodness that’s great any day, but especially great if you’re feeling poorly. I was actually planning on making it soon anyway, since it fits in nicely with the healthy eating plan I’m following these days. Its nutrition comes from loads of veggies and chunks of juicy chicken, cooked in a lovely broth. I think the lemon also gives it an extra boost with its vitamin C.
Here in Greece this is a very popular dish; we call it “Avgolemono” meaning Egg (Avgo)-Lemon (Lemoni). Don’t ask why lemoni turns into lemono… Greek is a complicated language!
Normally, I would have cooked the chicken in the slow cooker, and then used the liquid produced from that to make the soup. However, since this was an emergency and the appropriate supermarket visit could only be made after work, I had to do it the traditional way. Which is fine, and still pretty easy!
Sometimes new cooks are a little intimidated by this soup, as you have to temper the eggs at the end. This is much easier than people think, you just have to be patient and a little organized! So, here goes…
(Oh, wait. This is actually my own recipe! Cool!)

Chicken Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon) Soup

You’ll need:
3 litres of water (see? easy)
1 small chicken, about 1.2 kg, bone in, cut into four or five pieces (um, let the butcher do that bit)
1 medium onion, peeled
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into medium sized pieces
2 carrots, peeled or scraped (or just washed!) and cut into smallish pieces
1 small celeriac (celery root) about 300gr, peeled and cut into medium sized pieces
½ bunch of celery (in Greece celery looks like parsley and comes in bunches) or 2 sticks of celery (the thick whiteish kind), chopped
½ bunch of parsley, chopped
Salt & Pepper
½ cup of rice
2 eggs
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons (depending on how lemony you like it)

What you do:

  1. First of all, before you start, take the lemons and eggs out of the fridge. It’s best if they are at, or near, room temperature when you use them at the end.
  2. Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan. Remember that the level will rise when you add all the other ingredients. In the meantime rinse the chicken under cold water. Always be careful with poultry and clean all surfaces it has come into contact with, with warm soapy water (otherwise you might end up with a cold and salmonella!).
  3. When the water is boiling add some salt, the onion (whole) and the chicken pieces. Let the meat boil on a medium high heat, and skim any foam off the surface. Or don’t bother, I didn’t and nothing bad happened!
  4. Boil the chicken until the meat falls easily off the bone (take a piece out and test it by pulling apart with a fork, the meat should separate from the bone easily, if in doubt leave it in a bit longer!). This should take about 40 minutes.
  5. Take the chicken pieces out of the pan and turn the heat down so it’s not bubbling away and evaporating. Let the meat cool (really, let it cool, the tips of my fingers still hurt) before picking it from the bones. If there was some skin, remove it and throw it away. My bones go straight into the slow cooker for overnight stock (more about that another time). Break the meat into chunks and set aside.
  6. Bring the soup back to the boil and add all the vegetables, some more salt and some pepper. Now, depending on how soft you want the veggies, either let them boil for about 10 minutes before adding the rice, or add it straight away. Just remember each time you add something the liquid should be boiling, and then left to come back to the boil if it’s cooled down by whatever went in. Then turn the heat down to a good simmer.
  7. When the rice is half done (after about 10 minutes), throw in the chicken chunks to warm through. Both the veggies and rice need a minimum of about 20 minutes each, so calculate your timings based on that. The great thing about soup is that you don’t have to be 100% precise!
  8. At some point during all this you can take the onion out. Either mash it up and put it back in, or chuck it.
  9. After the soup is ready (veg and rice cooked/soft, chicken warm) turn the heat right down. It’s time to do the egg-lemon mixture. Get organised. Bring all your utensils near (a tablespoon, a ladle and a whisk). In a medium sized bowl (not a small one) beat the eggs a bit. Pour in the lemon juice and continue beating. Bring your bowl near the stove top. Take the pan off the heat and put it next to the bowl. With a tablespoon, take a spoonful of soup (just the liquid) and add it to the bowl with the egg-lemon, beating continuously. Repeat with another spoonful. And again. And again. Keep beating! Basically you want to bring the temperature of the eggs up -slowly- so they cook without scrambling. Keep adding spoonfuls of the hot soup into the mixture (one spoonful at a time). Feel the side of the bowl. If it’s getting warm, switch to a ladle so you get larger quantities of soup into your eggs. When your mixture is looking more like the soup, and is warm/hot, you can carefully pour it into the pan, stirring continuously. There, that was it!

Serve the soup with extra lemon, freshly ground pepper and crusty bread. This makes enough for four people.

Tip: If you want to make the soup thicker, you can blend some or all of the veg before putting in the rice and chicken. This means it will take longer as you’ll have to wait for the veg to soften before you can blend the soup and continue with the rice. However, this helps if you have to hide certain vegetables that people think they don’t like 😉 Use an immersion blender, anything else would be too faffy and you’d get annoyed with me and stop reading my blog.

Enjoy! Or, Get well soon!

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