Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup) with Rice or Cauliflower Rice

Greek Egg-Lemon Soup (Avgolemono Soup) is traditionally made with rice, but it was also delicious with cauliflower rice!

Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup) with Rice or Cauliflower Rice found on KalynsKitchen.com

Greek Avgolemono Soup or Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup is one of those dishes I've been passionately in love with ever since the first time I tried it, probably back in college, so that's a long time I've been loving this chicken and rice soup that's thickened with eggs and lemon.  I'm guessing I first tasted Avgolemono Soup at The Other Place, a Greek-American restaurant in Salt Lake City, and I still like their version of this classic Greek soup.  I first made this soup for the blog in 2006, and my version has dried parsley and dried thyme added to the stock, plus a little lemon zest, an idea that came from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines, a very old cookbook with lots of good ideas. 

What makes this soup special is the Avgolemono sauce that you mix into the soup to thicken it, a mixture of beaten eggs, and fresh lemon juice and zest that's mixed with some of the hot soup and then gently stirred back into the rest of the soup. The egg-lemon sauce that thickens the soup isn't really that difficult to make, but you must be careful not to let the soup boil after it's been added or it will curdle.

In the original recipe I started with chicken thighs and cooked them to make broth, but now I usually make the soup with leftover rotisserie chicken and chicken stock from the freezer.  Recently I had both those things on hand when the idea struck me to try making a low-carb version of this favorite soup by replacing the rice with cauliflower rice.

It was definitely a success with the cauliflower rice, although I have to be honest and say that I like the soup a best with the Low-Glycemic Uncle Ben's Converted Rice I normally use.  But for a delicious low-carb soup, this Egg-Lemon Greek Chicken Soup with Cauliflower Rice was really good.  And personally I think this is a pretty healthy soup no matter whether you use rice or cauliflower rice, enjoy!

(My version of Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup was updated with better photos and the option to use cauliflower rice in February 2015.)

Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup) with Rice or Cauliflower Rice found on KalynsKitchen.com
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 had rotisserie chicken that I just cut up to make 2 cups diced chicken.  Saute the onion the onion, dried parsley, and dried thyme and then simmer with homemade chicken stock for 10-15 minutes.


Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup) with Rice or Cauliflower Rice found on KalynsKitchen.com
If you're going to use cauliflower rice, buzz chopped cauliflower in the food processor until you have about 1 1/2 cups chopped cauliflower.  For rice, measure 1/2 cup rice, preferably Uncle Ben's Converted Rice.  Add the raw cauliflower (or rice) to the stock mixture and simmer until until it's done, about 20-25 minutes for rice or cauliflower.  Add the diced chicken to the soup and simmer over very low heat for 5  minutes.


Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup) with Rice or Cauliflower Rice found on KalynsKitchen.com
Zest a lemon and measure out 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.  Then squeeze that lemon and enough more to get 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice.  (You can also use fresh-frozen lemon juice.)  Beat eggs until they look frothy, then whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Remove one cup hot broth from the soup and whisk into the egg mixture a little at a time.  Then stir the egg-lemon mixture back into the soup and cook over the lowest possible heat until it thickens, but do not boil.  (Some Greeks make this soup with just chicken stock, rice, and the Avgolemono sauce, but I always like the bits of chicken in the soup.)

 Greek Egg-Lemon-Rice Soup with Thyme (Avgolemono Soup) found on KalynsKitchen.com
This is my third time photographing this soup, so here's the photo from 2011.


Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup)  found on KalynsKitchen.com
And just for fun, here's my original Avgolemono Soup photo from back in 2006!


Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup) with Rice or Cauliflower Rice found on KalynsKitchen.com
Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup) with Rice or Cauliflower Rice
(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)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1-2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. dried parsley (or a little less)
1 tsp. dried thyme (or a little less)
1/2 cup Uncle Ben's Converted Rice (not instant) OR 1 1/2 cups finely chopped raw cauliflower, chopped in the food processor to make cauliflower rice
2 cups diced leftover chicken
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or more if you like it really lemony)
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:
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot, add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until the onion is softened and starting to brown.  Add the dried parsley and dried thyme and cook a minute or two more.  Add the 6 cups chicken stock to the soup pot and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Add the rice or raw cauliflower rice and simmer over medium-low heat until rice is tender or cauliflower is fully cooked, about 20-25 minutes, then stir in the diced leftover chicken (or turkey), turn heat to lowest possible setting, and cook about 5 minutes more.

Zest a lemon and then squeeze additional 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, let the broth cool slightly, and then 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 will keep in the fridge for a few days, but it's best freshly made.


South Beach/Low-Carb Suggestions:
Uncle Ben's Converted Rice is the lowest-glycemic type of white rice, and if you use that this soup would be good for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. Using cauliflower rice would make this a very Low-Carb soup, suitable for any phase of the South Beach Diet or any other type of low-carb eating plan.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Fun Ideas with Chicken and Greek Flavors:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Slow Cooker Cauiflower Rice Greek Chicken Bowl ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Carb Avgolemono Soup (with spaghetti squash) ~ I breathe I'm Hungry

CrockPot Greek Chicken Soup with Garbanzos and Oregano ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Greek Chicken with Olives, Feta, and Tomatoes ~ Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Marinate All Day Greek Lemon Chicken ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Tacos ~ Farm Fresh Feasts

(Want even more recipes?  I find these recipes from other blogs from Food Blog Search.)

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27 comments:

  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 :)

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

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  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!

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  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.

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

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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

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

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  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!

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

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

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  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.

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  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.

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  17. Hey Kalyn, your Avgolemono Soup is a Recipe Guessing Game on Knapkins. Think your friends can win?
    www.knapkins.com/guess_games/1027?source=blog

    Show your foodie love and vote here
    www.knapkins.com/duel?dish=15574

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

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

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

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  21. Your “White on Rice” photography inspiration is showing, Kalyn, lovely photo showing off your soup! And you are awfully brave to show off the old photos. I just delete them! PS Believe it or not, this is a soup I’ve never tried. Adding it to the list!

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    1. Thanks so much Alanna. I still have my days where I think the photos look awful, but sometimes I am pleased with them. You MUST try this soup right away. Seriously, it is so amazing.

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  22. Adding to my collection of cauliflower-rice-friendly recipes! Love those flavors. Also ADORE the 9 year old photo. Here's to evolution!

    ~ Anne

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  23. Anne hope you enjoy! I love seeing the improvement from the old photos.

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  24. Hi Kalyn - Quick question. Does the cauliflower rice need to be cooked per the recipe before being added to the soup, or do you just add the processed raw cauliflower directly into the soup? Thanks for the clarification. PS. My husband and I have been using your blog as part of our 2014 New Years resolution and it's still going strong into 2015. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Pam, glad to hear the recipes are helpful for you. We added the cauliflower raw and just cooked it in the soup until it was tender. I will edit the post to clarify.

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