Thursday, March 11, 2010

Avgolemono Soup (CEIMB)

When I was in law school, we often went to a Greek restaurant called Taverna Tony for lunch.  It was right down the street, and it had (free!) excellent bread and taramasalata dip. There was one menu item that we always had to get.  It was the lemony, creamy soup known as avgolemono - or chicken lemon soup.  It was my favorite soup of all time, and I still get the hankering now and again to drive up the coast to Malibu for a bowl.  No other Greek restaurant makes it quite as well as Taverna Tony, and believe me, I've looked.

It just so happens that this week's Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe is for avgolemono soup (or "Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo," as Ellie calls it).   I was so excited that this was the pick of the week!  I have to say that it is remarkably like the version I grew to know and love in law school, only with thyme instead of parsley.  I think next time I make this recipe (and there *will* be a next time), I will use parsley and see just how close to Tony's recipe this one is. 

This is a magical, lemony soup that tastes creamy and decadent, but the source of its creaminess is tempered eggs, rather than cream, flour, or any other typical soup ingredient.  It's a rather unassuming variation on chicken noodle soup, but it is so incredibly good, you can't even believe it until you try it yourself.

Avgolemono Soup
adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave
serves 3


2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into small chunks
pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orzo
1 large egg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper to taste


1.  Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with the salt, add to the pot, and cook, stirring often, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

2.  Add remaining teaspoon of oil to the pot.  Add onion, celery, carrot and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups of the broth and bring to a boil.  Add orzo and let simmer until tender, about 6 minutes.  Turn heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

3.  Warm the remaining 1/2 cup broth in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg.  Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the egg.  Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while.  (You are tempering the egg, as opposed to cooking it).

4.  Add the egg-broth mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened.  Do not let the soup come to a boil.  If any bits of scrambled egg form, fish them out, but this shouldn't happen if you have the heat all the way down.  Add cooked chicken to the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.



  1. I love that this recipe comes so close to one of your favorite dishes. I thought this soup was amazingly tasty for a "chicken noodle" soup. I'm glad that it met your expectations!

  2. Interesting. Don't you love it when you can recreate an all time favorite in your own kitchen. The best part...that it didn't take you all day? This was a super recipe.

  3. *Souper* recipe indeed, AppleC. My amazement comes from how simple it sounds to reproduce in a home kitchen, thanks to Ellie, and to Laura for sharing with us. :-)