Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Recipe for Greek Egg-Lemon-Rice Soup with Thyme (Avgolemono Soup)

 Greek Egg-Lemon-Rice Soup with Thyme (Avgolemono Soup) found on KalynsKitchen.com
My version of this traditional Greek Soup has a little thyme and parsley added to the broth.

(Updated with new photos and slightly easier instructions and added to Recipe Favorites, December 2011)   For years Avgolemono Soup has been one of my favorite things to order in a Greek restaurant so in 2006 I tried making it for my New Year's Day Soup Party and posted it on the blog.  This year for Thanksgiving I had the idea of trying this soup with leftover turkey instead of chicken, but I ran out of turkey before that idea could come to pass.  I couldn't get the thought of Egg-Lemon-Rice Soup out of my mind though, so I made my original recipe again and took some greatly improved photos.  My version of this soup has a little dried parsley and dried thyme added to the stock, plus a little lemon zest in the Avgolemono sauce, which isn't always used in authentically Greek versions.  I love this recipe which produces a flavorful soup that stayed good in the fridge for about five days, with me eating some nearly every day for lunch.

In the original recipe for this I started with chicken thighs and cooked them to make broth, but ever since then I've made the soup with leftover rotisserie chicken and chicken stock from the freezer, so I'm going to add that option to the instructions.  What makes this soup special is the Avgolemono sauce that you mix into the soup to thicken it - a mixture of beaten eggs, fresh lemon juice and zest, and hot soup.  The eggs thicken immediately when you add the hot soup, and then the "sauce" mixture is gently stirred back into the rest of the soup. You must be careful not to let the soup boil after it's been added or it will curdle.  The idea of adding the grated lemon peel came from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines, which is a very old cookbook with lots of good ideas.

If you don't have leftover cooked chicken you'll need to cook 3-4 chicken thighs (or 2 chicken breasts) in some chicken stock, but I just started by simmering the onion, dried parsley, and dried thyme in homemade chicken stock from the freezer.

After that mixture has cooked about 10-15 minutes, add 1/2 cup of Uncle Ben's Converted Rice.   Let that simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

Cut up enough leftover chicken (or turkey!) to make 2 cups diced chicken.  Add that to the soup when the rice is nearly done.

To make the avgolemono sauce, zest a lemon and then squeeze enough lemons to get 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Beat eggs until they're getting frothy, then stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.

Then remove 1 cup of the hot broth from the soup pot and stir it into the soup (1/2 cup at a time, stirring between each addition.)

Stir the avgolemono sauce back into the soup and heat but DO NOT BOIL after the sauce has been added.

Some Greeks made this soup with just chicken stock, rice, and the avgolemono sauce, but I always like the bits of chicken in the soup.

And just for fun, here's my original Avgolemono Soup photo from back in 2006!

Egg-Lemon-Rice Soup(Avgolemono Soup)
(Makes 4-6 servings, adapted from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines

Ingredients if you don't have leftover chicken or turkey:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts
6 cups water or chicken stock
1 T chicken soup base (if cooking thighs in water)

Ingredients with cooked leftover chicken:
6 cups chicken stock (I use my homemade chicken stock)
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup Uncle Ben's Converted Rice (not instant)
2 cups diced leftover chicken (or turkey)
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest (grated lemon rind)

Instructions if you need to cook the chicken:
Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken thighs or breasts, then cook in water with chicken soup base added (or use homemade chicken stock if you have some) until cooked through. Remove chicken pieces to cool, and strain liquid to use in the soup.  Dice the chicken.  (Follow the rest of the recipe as below.)

Instructions if you have leftover chicken:
Put 6 cups chicken stock in a soup pot, add the dried parsley, dried thyme, and diced onion and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Add the rice and simmer over low heat until rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes, then stir in the diced leftover chicken (or turkey) and cook about 5 minutes more.

Zest a lemon and then squeeze lemons to get 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.  Beat eggs with whisk until they are starting to get frothy. Then whisk in lemon juice and lemon zest. Remove one cup of hot broth from the soup, and whisk 1/2 cup and then another 1/2 cup into the egg mixture, beating well between each addition.

Whisk this mixture into the big pot of soup (be sure the temperature is very low) and let the soup heat gently. DO NOT BOIL after the egg-lemon mixture has been added. This soup cannot be frozen and must be reheated carefully or the eggs will curdle the broth.  It did keep well in the fridge for about 5 days.

South Beach Suggestions:
I made this with Uncle Ben's Converted Rice, considered a "good" carb on the South Beach Diet because something in the converting process lowers the glycemic index of the rice. Also, in four generous servings of soup, there's only 1/2 cup of rice, so this would be acceptable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.

More Soups with Chicken and Rice:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Coconut-Lime Turkey (or Chicken) and Rice Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Chicken Soup with Collard Greens, Carrots, and Brown Rice from Kalyn's Kitchen
Moroccan Chicken and Rice Soup with Parsnips and Carrots from Soup Chick
Crockpot Chicken and Rice Soup from A Year of Slow Cooking
Chicken and Brown Rice Soup from Tiny Morsels
(Want even more recipes?  I find these recipes from other blogs from Food Blog Search.)

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  1. I love reading the recipes you post - plus am a big fan of lemon soup - but i have to admit one thing: I'm not that familiar with the South Beach Diet you are referring to :)

  2. alos tagged you for the 4xmeme on my recipes page (101 categories - recipes). Hope you'll enjoy it :)

  3. Thanks for the recipe - this tastes just like a Greek restaurant I used to love in Chicago! I think the soup was a bit too hot when I added the milk because I can see tiny pieces of what might be scrambled bits of egg, but it still tastes bright and soothing and yummy!

  4. Avgolemono is one of my favorite soups, and I'm intrigued because this version is so different from mine. Must give it a try.

  5. I am a Greek food novice, but this looks fantastic. What is converted rice, exactly? Can I substitute regular rice?

  6. Lydia, now I must go check out your version!

    Zesty, "converted" rice has been parboiled so some of the starch is removed, which is what makes it better for South Beach. It was supposedly the only type of rice Julia Child would use! I think regular rice will work, but the converted rice stays firm in soup a little better. (And all my Greek friends tell me that converted rice is what they use.) I'd substitute Basmati if you have that, but regular long grain rice would be okay too.

  7. Love your recipes! Would it be possible for you to post the recipe at the top of your posts, before all of the method information with photos that take awhile to download on a slow connection?

  8. I've been sitting on a friend's recipe for Avgolemono the last few weeks. Made the stock/chicken and ended up freezing it and haven't gotten around to actually making the soup. Her version (from a Greek cookbook) is slightly different. The eggs whites are beaten separately until stiff, then the yolks are added back. She did mention too that it is a little tricky when adding the eggs into the broth. Interesting that converted rice is used, and I like the addition of thyme and lemon zest for extra zip.

  9. Suzanne, I do sympathize, but I don't think that's a change I'd want to make; it would completely change the format of my blog posts and I have over 900 recipes and want to keep the format consistent. I will think about it though and see if I can come up with any ideas to help.

    Jeanette, that method of beating the egg whites separately may be more traditional, I'm not sure. But this method still produces a delicious creamy soup. I've had it without any added herbs or lemon zest in restaurants, and it's delicious that way as well.

  10. This is a lovely version of the soup, Kalyn. It is a favorite of mine and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  11. Good to know about the rice. Thanks Kalyn.

  12. i just love this soup. it's one of my all time favourites because the lemon just lifts the flavour incridibly. a great one in winter to remember that fresh zing of summer.
    your recipe is very similar to my own, so good to know i'm doing it right!

  13. Anna, good to know that we're both making it the same! I love this as well; one of my favorites for years!

  14. This is such an original way to use leftover chicken or turkey. The brightness of the lemon in Avgolemono is always tempting.

  15. YUM! I made this yesterday. Normally soup is not on the menu here in Brisbane, Australia at this time of the year due to the hot weather. However, it is a "chilly" 70DegF here at the moment, so we feel like it is winter! :-)

    Best soup I have tasted in ages, and now on the favourites list.

  16. Mmmm... love the look of this. On one of the LighterLife diet plans - Can't wait to eat proper food again. This sea bass recipe looks great too.

  17. Hey Kalyn, your Avgolemono Soup is a Recipe Guessing Game on Knapkins. Think your friends can win?

    Show your foodie love and vote here

  18. Greek cuisine is wonderful, but... only with Greek ingredients!

  19. This will definitely be added to our soup list for the winter! It looks delicious and easy to make. Thank you for sharing!

  20. This soup is lovely - thank you for sharing!


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