Still going through the backlog of meals I didn’t get around to posting before our balmy jaunt to the North Pacific. Soup, to me, is very welcoming and belly-warming offered by all cultures at the beginning of a meal or a meal in itself, the end of a journey, or even when you’re feeling under the weather. In many ways, creating a flavorful soup is a sign of a good cook because concentrating all those flavors into a broth that’s not insipid or muddled can stump even the best of us. Avgolemono soup is a deceptively simple soup that combines savory chicken stock with creamy eggs and tart tangy lemon which offsets the richness of the eggs. Finding a recipe that gives a good balance of voluptuousness and tang is just the tip of the iceberg cuz emulsifying fat and protein with acid and hot stock that won’t make you feel like you’re sipping citrusy scrambled eggs has made many a cook cry. I had 2 last Meyer lemons squirreled away waiting
impatiently for them to reach maximum juicy ripeness so I could try an Epicurious cult favorite. This recipe from a Boston cook’s Yia Yia (grandma) is so revered that it took a recipe that was receiving 1 out of 4 stars forks to almost 4, it actually got to the point that the high cholesterol original recipe had high ratings cuz everyone was rating Boston’s recipe in the review section. I mention this cuz the reviewers on that site can be, to put it bluntly merciless, where recipes from lauded culinary magazines, expert cookbooks, and celebrity chefs have borne the shrapnel of unmitigated criticism. Needless to say, the technique of whipping the egg whites, tempering the eggs with a soupçon of hot stock, and then carefully pouring the rest of it while my trusty stand mixer whirs away was a bit tricky but a creamy, tangy soup that hits the spot and tastes great as leftovers is worth the potential second degree burn effort.
1 bone-in chicken breast, skin and excess fat removed
8 c water
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery, cut in thirds lengthwise
1 shallot, outer skin on
2 whole cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 tsp chicken stock concentrate or bouillon cubes
4 eggs, at room temperature and separated
1/2 c Meyer lemon juice (~2 lemons)
1 c orzo **substitute long grain rice if cooking gluten-free
Freshly ground pepper
In a large ~3-4 quart pot over med-hi heat bring water, chicken, carrot, celery, shallot, garlic, and salt to a boil. Skim off foam and fat then reduce to a simmer. Remove chicken once cooked and set aside to cool. Discard carrot, celery, shallot, and garlic. Stir in stock concentrate and add orzo then cook till al dente. Stir periodically to keep from clumping together.
While orzo is cooking, beat egg whites till they hold soft peaks. Break egg yolks in a separate bowl then beat into whites. While beating, add lemon juice. Temper egg mixture with 2 tbsp hot broth and add another 14 tbsp, 2 tbsp at a time. Slowly pour stock into egg mixture while mixer is on low setting. Alternatively you can pour tempered egg mixture into remaining broth and mix. Serve with shredded chicken breast and freshly ground pepper. Makes 4 main course servings or 8 first course servings.
**Estimated nutritional info for 1 main course serving.