Friday, December 30, 2011

Authentic Greek Avgolemono Soup

I am a Greek and Greeks must be able to make certain dishes. The famous Greek avgolemono soup that is sold in restaurants that claim to have even the tiniest of Greek influence is one of my family's favorites. My dad always made his from scratch and I do the shortcuts!! I am a fierce critic of any version of the soup I taste in restaurants. I find many of them are too thick, use rice instead of orzo, don't have enough lemon flavor, have too much lemon flavor, etc. Mine works best for me and my family although this is very subjective. Alright, so how do I do it?
ALWAYS MAKE YOUR OWN BROTH! Now I am a fan of boxed chicken broth and use it frequently in other soups. However, there are some soups/stews that I always start with my own broth. Would anyone notice the difference? Probably not...certainly not my own family! But it is a matter of principle on my part. Same goes with my rolled chicken and dumplings and homemade chicken noodle soup...broth from scratch.

Anyway, I use a whole cut-up chicken, approximately 3 stalks of celery, a whole sweet onion, a bunch of parsley, 2 cloves of fresh garlic, salt, black pepper and oregano. Just roughly chop the veggies because they are being left behind in the end. They are there only to flavor the broth. I add enough water to cover everything well. Cook the chicken about 45 minutes to an hour...your whole house will smell delicious! After the chicken is cooked through, strain your broth out into another pot, leaving the veggies and chicken behind. You can also cook the chicken and veggies in a pasta pot and then pull them right out leaving the broth behind. That is what I did this time...saves a step. I then cool the chicken on a plate so I can shred it without burning my fingers off!
Next, taste your broth. Odds are you need more chicken flavor. I add Vigo Chicken Flavored Soup Base. How much you add depends on how much broth you have and how you like it. Start with one tablespoon and work your way up, tasting as you go. This is totally up to you as to how much you use...I can't tell you how chicken-y a taste you want!

Next comes orzo. I do not use rice but you could if you want. I love orzo pasta and it is more authentic if you ask me. How much you add depends on how much broth you have. I had a lot of broth so I used an entire pound of orzo. You might use less depending on how much pasta you want and how much broth you have. Cook the pasta until al dente. Take your pot off the heat.

Now comes the tricky part. Beat three eggs in a separate bowl and let them warm to room temperature. Why? No matter how hard you work at it, if your eggs are cold they will curdle and become scrambled eggs in your soup. Yes I have done this...and I did it this time too...not too bad but the eggs were still too cold when I added them. So, eggs at room temp...a must!! To your beaten eggs, SLOWLY add a little broth. This tempers the eggs so that they come closer to the temperature of the broth. Again, we do this to lessen the chances that the eggs will turn into scrambled eggs. Then slowly add the eggs to the pot, stirring as you go.

Next, lemons. I usually add the juice of 3 lemons but you might want to start at can always add more but you can't take it out. In this pot of soup I thought 2 was not enough lemon flavor so I did 3. It was perfect!

Next you are going to add your chicken back to the soup. By now it should be cooled enough to handle. I shred the entire chicken and add it all back to the soup.

Serve the soup with a nice Greek salad and a loaf of crusty bread with butter...perfect for a chilly winter day!

I know I gave you a bunch of "to your taste" in this recipe but it truly does depend on how you like it. The recipe I use follows but you really need to taste as you go and adjust to your liking.

Suzanne's Greek Avgolemono Soup

1 whole cut-up chicken
3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 bunch of parsley
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
salt, black pepper and oregano
water to cover chicken and vegetables
3-4 tablespoons Vigo chicken base
1 pound orzo pasta
3 eggs, beaten and warmed to room temperature
juice of 3 lemons

Place chicken, celery, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano into a large pot/pasta pot. Cover with water. Boil 45 minutes to an hour. Strain broth into another pot. Cool chicken and discard vegetables. Add chicken base to broth to taste. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Remove from heat. Beat eggs. Temper eggs by adding a small amount of broth. Slowly add eggs to soup, stirring as you go. Add juice of lemons to soup. Shred chicken and add to soup. Serve.



  1. There's a Greek restaurant by my work and I fell in love with the soup. Can't wait to try this! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Thank you for sharing your family recipe. I've been looking for a good authentic recipe to make for my boyfriend and his dad who are Greek. I've seen several others that use cornstarch and a blender to mix the eggs to avoid curdling. Since I'm a newb and know very little about cooking I'm curious what your thoughts are on these are?