Updated: Aug 27, 2020
29th August is Lemon Juice Day! In celebration of this sharp, sour, tangy staple of every Greek kouzina, we can't think of anything better than a traditional, comforting and heart warming Avgolemono soup.
What does Avgolemono mean?
The word "avgolemono" is a combination of the two main ingredients of the sauce:
Avgo = Egg
Lemoni = Lemon
For those of you who didn't grow up in a Greek household, or are not familiar with the recipe, this combination of ingredients would sound a bit strange, especially combining egg and lemon into a hot soup. You would probably envision a curdled mess.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
When done correctly Avgolemono soup is creamy (yes, creamy!!), silky and tangy all at the same time. The point is to emulsify the egg and lemon mixture together with a hot broth which not only adds flavour but deceivingly makes it appear creamy.
Our Fave Avgolemono Recipes
Kotosoupa (Chicken Soup)
Psarosoupa (Greek Fish Soup)
Giouvarlakia/Yiouvarlakia (Greek Meatball & Rice Soup)
Margiritsa (Greek Easter Soup)
Chirino Fricassee (Braised Pork with Avgolemono)
In our household, the go to favourite is Kotosoupa. The variations of chicken soup are as many as there are households in Greece. Every mama or yiayia has her version and is much loved by everybody, especially when you are feeling sick. It's the Greek version of "chicken soup penicillin" and alway makes us feel better!
This is the first recipe that I learned to make when I moved out of home, but even after so many years, for some reason mum's is always better!
Our Key Tips to Making the Best Chicken Soup Base
We always make our own chicken stock, using a whole free range chicken and add plenty of familiar Greek aromatics, bay leaf, garlic, pepper & onion.
The reason we cook the entire chicken is that we remove all of the meat from the chicken and add it each bowl then top with the soup. This makes it a hearty meal in a bowl.
My mother would always add vegetables in big chunks to the stock and then to our bowls. She always included potato, carrot & celery. The potato was my favourite as it would soak up the that delicious tangy lemony Avgolemono...mmmm potatoes! This is optional and I often skip adding vegetables.
Do you add rice or pasta? Well, the decision is entirely up to you. Avgolemono soup doesn't even need to have rice or pasta. That is the beauty of this soup!
Once you are happy with your stock, you then add the grain, or pasta, of choice to cook before adding the Avgolemono, otherwise you will get an eggy curdled mess.
When we use rice in soup, we tend to use the medium grain rice, but it is entirely up to what you prefer. You can use a long grain rice, or brown rice but definitely not an aromatic or arborio rice!
We always use short grain rice when making our favourite Yiouvarelakia!
These are all different names for this rice shaped pasta, and our carb of choice for making Avgolemono soup.
Thin Egg Noodles or Small Pasta Shapes
I used to use the fun pasta shapes when I was making soup for the kids in the family, or crush up the egg noodles to make a Chicken Noodle Soup.
This is especially hearty when you're not using a meat based protein. Pearl barely is perfect for making Vegetable & Barley Avgolemono soup. You can even use Quinoa or any other grain, but I wouldn't recommend lentils or beans.
The Best Type of Egg
Always, and I can't stress this enough, ALWAYS use locally sourced free range or organic eggs. Not only are they packed with beneficial nutrients, and ethically sourced, but the yolks gives a deep golden colour to the Avgolemono sauce.
The History of Avgolemono
I am aware that several cultures have variations of an egg and/or lemon soup, for example the Jewish Agristada and Italian Stracciatella.
From what I can tell, the recipe was brought across to Eastern Europe by Sephardic Jews, who were expelled from Spain in the late 15th century, spreading the popularisation of the lemon across the Mediterranean.
How to Make Avgolemono
Ah, now we have come to the all important method of making Avgolemono!
For centuries the method has always been:
Separate eggs - yolks & whites
Beat egg whites to frothy stage
Slowly incorporate the egg yolks - don't be tempted to add cornflour, this is cheating!!
Drizzle in the lemon juice
Very slowly drizzle in the warm broth, constantly whisking to ensure there is no curdling
Now the all important step - as you slowly add the Avgolemono to the pot of soup, you make a kissing sound to avoid the soup from curdling!
Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you're making a face as you read this, but if you miss Step 6 and your soup curdles you have nobody to blame but yourself!!
We will be posting a video of making the Avgolemono on Saturday, 29th August, so be sure to subscribe to our blog, or follow our socials @letseatms
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Kali Oreksi Se Ollous
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