soup sundays: greek avgolemono soup

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]rowing up in the UP (Upper Peninsula) we had this restaurant called Vango’s that was a Greek stye restaurant.  They had the BEST avgolemono soup.  Avgolemono soup is a lemon egg soup.  Beyond that it can take on a lot of varieties.  People add rice, orzo noodles, chicken, vegetables and spices depending on the cook.  The soup at Vango’s had vegetables, chicken and orzo so that is what I was accustomed to.  When I moved to Detroit we have a whole area called Greektown.  There is a large Greek population in the metro Detroit area and Greektown is loaded with Greek restaurants.  One of my favorite of the restaurants there. Pagasus, has an amazing avgolemono soup. However, their version is more traditional.  It is simple and is just the lemony egg broth and rice.  When my husband and I order take out (which is rare) Pegasus is a go-to and I always order extra soup so I can take for lunch.

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One of my best friends is 100% Greek.  He hosts a great Thanksgiving Day party because he lives on the main street in Detroit that the Thanksgiving Day parade is on.  His parents moved to the U.S. from Greece and his mom makes a huge pot of avgolemono on Thanksgiving.  Now that I am married we compromise on holidays and I haven’t been in Detroit for a few Thanksgivings now and I have missed out on her soup.

My friend Greek friend Christopher was over the other night and he had just made a pot of his mom’s recipe (that unfortunately I again missed out on!).  I myself have made the soup a few times (more like my hometown version) so we were comparing notes.  He told me he usually uses 3-4 eggs in his soup and LOTS of lemon.  Typically I had only used one egg when I would make my version.  He also said he uses white pepper which I had never tried.  As the week went on after our conversation I had started craving the soup and was excited to try to make my version better using some pointers from my friend.

Some people might think it sounds weird to put eggs in your soup but you can’t taste the egg.  They really just act as a thickening agent to your soup.  But the key with adding eggs to a hot soup like this is to temper your eggs.  This will prevent your eggs from becoming scrambled when you add them in (we are not making egg drop soup here).  What I do is I take my eggs out of the fridge and crack them into a large mixing bowl and whisk them together.  I do this about 20 minutes before I am going to use them so they come up to room temperature.  Then I use a soup ladle and while I continuously whisk the egg mix I slowly ladle in my broth.  I probably added in about 10 ladles of soup while whisking.  This brings the temperature of the eggs up without cooking them like scrambled eggs.  You then take this mix and stream it into your soup while stirring.

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One other pointer my friend told me that I had never done is let your soup cook for a few hours.  I usually just stirred my eggs in and that was the last step.  This time I waited about an hour to serve it and it thickened up so nicely.  I just turned my stove down to low and stirred it every 5 or 10 minutes.

This soup turned out to be a hybrid of my childhood and my adult life.  It was the perfect balance of lemony richness with some added nutrients from the vegetables.  Efcharisto Christos!

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avgolemono soup (lemon rice)
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 6-8 ribs of celery sliced thinly
  2. 1 yellow onion diced
  3. 4 carrots grated or diced
  4. 2.5 boxes of chicken stock (10 cups)
  5. 1.5 cups of dried orzo noodles
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 5 lemons (mine were large, if you only can find small ones buy 7)
  8. 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley minced
  9. white pepper
  10. salt
  11. 1 TBS olive oil
  12. Optional: cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken would be great in this recipe)
Instructions
  1. Crack eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk. In a large soup pot over medium heat sauté celery, onions and carrots in olive oil until tender 10-12 minutes. Add in chicken broth/stock and bring to a boil. Season with white pepper and salt (to your taste - I like a lot of pepper in my dishes). Once your stock is boiling, while whisking continuously add in one ladle of soup at a time to your egg mixture. Add in about 10 ladles full of broth to your mix whisking the entire time. Add your egg mix back into your soup while you stir. At this time add in your orzo pasta and turn your heat down to medium low. Continue to stir your soup. Let soup cook for another hour to thicken up stirring every 5-10 minutes. Add in the parsley and the juice of 4 lemons. Start with 4 lemons and try your soup. I personally liked mine with lots of lemon so add until you get your desired level to your taste. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
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