Egg-enriched soup soothes stressed stomachs

There’s nothing like a bout of food poisoning to kill a food writer’s inspiration.

Since I spent much of Monday recovering from the follies of a Super Bowl party, I was thankful last night’s dinner was prepared and waiting in the fridge. By chance, it was not only a nourishing, tasty dish but one of the best convalescent’s foods I know: Avgolemeno Soup.

Containing little except rice, broth and perhaps a little poached poultry, the soup is bland enough that a recently upset stomach can handle it. The addition of lemon juice provides a piquant flavor that revives tortured taste buds while egg adds an extra bit of substance that’s easily digested.

My acquaintance with this recipe came by chance, writing a story more than two years ago about a local cooking class using citrus and news of California’s massive crop failure. Ashland Food Co-op community outreach assistant Maria Katsantones shared her recipe for Greek Chicken Soup With Lemon, which looked so easy and delicious that I had to give it a whirl.

In truth, I’d run across the dish before in an anthology of 1,000 globally inspired recipes. But it seemed too odd, and the instructions to separately whip egg whites and yolks turned me off. I turned to the recipe, though, when consulting Katsantones’ version and developed what I consider to be a perfect marriage of the two.

Lacking the cooked chicken and packaged broth needed for Katasantones’ recipe, I copied instructions from “1,001 Essential Recipes” for making my own. I simply simmered a skinned and boned turkey breast (chicken works, too) with a carrot, onion and bay leaf for about 30 minutes, strained the liquid for stock and cut up the cooked meat to add later.

Of course, this recipe is an ideal outcome if you have the remains of a roast chicken or turkey on hand. Once you boil the bird for stock and salvage its meat, the recipe is whipped up in about 20 minutes. My most recent roast — a rabbit — worked beautifully, too.

To about a quart of stock, I added 1/4 cup white rice and 2 cups chopped collard greens and simmered for about 15 minutes or until the rice was just tender. Then I added the cooked, reserved meat just to heat through.

I whisked the juice of one lemon with two raw eggs and tempered that mixture with some of the hot broth about a tablespoon at a time. After adding 1/4 cup or so of broth, I incorporated the entire mixture into the soup after removing it from the heat.

Care obviously is needed at this point to keep the eggs from scrambling, so heat the soup gently while stirring. The result should be uniformly rich and creamy, not clumps of egg similar to Chinese egg-drop soup. The only seasonings needed before serving are a little white pepper and perhaps some salt. But the lemon is so vibrant, salt doesn’t contribute much. You can garnish it with a little chopped parsley, if desired.

Avgolemeno Soup stores well for a couple days in the refrigerator and, surprisingly, reheats well in the microwave if stirred intermittently and never allowed to boil. I like it a day or so later because the rice absorbs more liquid, thickening the entire soup, and the lemon flavor intensifies considerably.

I’m posting Katsantones’ original recipe for anyone who isn’t interested in making stock or wants to take other shortcuts, such as using roast chicken purchased from a grocery-store deli section. Once you see how easy and satisfying it is, you’ll never again pop open Campbell’s chicken noodle to soothe your stomach.

Avgolemeno Soup (Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon)

1 cup rice

8 cups chicken stock, divided

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 large chard, kale or collard leaves, stems removed and chopped well

1 cup cooked chicken, diced

2 large, fresh eggs (at room temperature)

Juice of 3 lemons (strained) to equal 3/4 cup juice

Salt and fresh pepper, to taste

Fresh lemon, cut in thin half-rounds, for garnish

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Cook the rice in 2 cups of the chicken stock. Add the 6 remaining cups of stock to the cooked rice. Bring mixture to a simmer. Add the garlic, chard and chicken; continue simmering.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice until frothy (1 minute). To temper egg mixture, remove 1 cup of hot stock from pot and very slowly pour stock into egg and lemon mixture while continuing to whisk. Slowly pour egg, lemon and stock mixture back into soup pot; stir. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Simmer on low heat for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot, garnishing each bowl with a slice of lemon and a sprinkle of parsley.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

NOTE: When re-heating Avgolemeno Soup, do not let it come to a boil.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives