Widow Matalya’s Chicken Soup

Matalya’nın Terbiyeli Tavuk Çorbası

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

By Jason Goodwin

Published 2016

  • About

When Ferdinand expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492, Sultan Bayezid made them welcome in the Ottoman Empire, saying; ‘What king is this, that impoverishes his kingdom to enrich mine?’ Many Jews settled in Thessalonica and other port cities. They spoke Castilian Spanish, known as Ladino, well into the twentieth century.

This comforting and nourishing soup is a staple of Jewish mamas worldwide, and is known as avgolomeno in Greece.


  • chicken whole, skinned
  • onion 1
  • carrots 2, split
  • bayleaf 1
  • peppercorns ½ tsp
  • salt 1 tsp
  • vermicelli 50 g/2 oz
  • eggs 2
  • lemon 1
  • parsley bunch


  • Put chicken, onion, carrots, bayleaf, peppercorns and salt, with the parsley stalks, in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a quiet simmer, skimming off the scum as it rises. Don’t allow the pot to boil, to keep the stock clear.
  • After an hour lift out the chicken to cool while you strain the stock into a clean saucepan. Boil the stock until it is reduced by about a third, to concentrate the flavour.
  • Pick the meat off the chicken and shred it between your fingers. Return the stock to a simmer, add the chicken and melt the vermicelli in it.
  • Beat the eggs and the juice of half the lemon together in a bowl. As you beat, pour in ladleful of stock and keep beating. If you are nervous of your eggs curdling, add another ladleful, beat, and pour it back into the pot, eggs, juice and all, stirring the soup to diffuse the flavour.
  • The vermicelli will be done, so serve the soup with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and the rest of the lemon within reach.