Avgolemono Soup

Greek chicken soup with egg and lemon is properly called kotopoulo soupa avgole-mono. Avgolemono is actually the name of the sauce made from eggs (avgo) and lemons (lemono), which is added to soups and stews to thicken them and add a sharp lemony taste. It is never added to dishes that are made with garlic or tomatoes, but may otherwise be added to any poached savoury dish. Skilled Greek hands frequently use whole eggs, but the rest of us are probably safer using only the yolks.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, about 1.35 kg/ 3 lb
  • about 3 litres/ pints water or chicken stock
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 12 black peppercorns

For the Avgolemono Sauce

  • 3 egg yolks
  • juice of 3 lemons

Method

Cover the chicken with cold water or, better still, good chicken stock, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and skim, then add the onions, carrot, celery, bay leaf, salt and peppercorns. Simmer for 50 minutes, or until a leg will pull away easily.

Transfer the chicken to a chopping board, drain the broth into another saucepan and discard the vegetables.

Make the avgolemono sauce: in a mixing bowl, first whisk the egg yolks with a tablespoon of water, then beat in the lemon juice. Whisk a few spoonfuls of the hot (but not boiling — if the liquid is too hot, the eggs will cook in visible strings) cooking liquid into this mixture and then add the contents of the bowl back to the pan off the heat. Stir gently over a low heat and adjust the seasoning.

Normally the soup would be served like this or with the addition of a little cooked long-grain rice. Though the chicken would usually be served separately, it can be shredded and served with the broth poured over.

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