I'll be honest. I'm not really into soup. Stew; bring it on. Chili; heck yes. Chowder; now you're speaking my language. But soup? Ehh, I'll take it or leave it. Generally speaking, you've got to serve up some revolutionary Lobster Bisque or Gumbo if you want me to crack a smile. Perhaps it's due to my 28-year residence in the sunshine state. Or maybe it's because I've scorched the roof of my mouth one too many times. I'm just not a soup-loving kinda foodie. The infamous Seinfeld "soup nazi" would hate me. "No soup for you!!!" Yeah, you're right no soup for me, buddy.
But every once in a while (and I mean, every...once...in...a...while) I taste a soup that strikes my fancy. Soup that claims tons of flavor; soup that warms my bones; and soup that somehow, soothes my soul. I've gotta say, while it may surprise you, one spoonable liquid that I've grown rather fond of over the years is Greek Avgolemono soup. Sure, it's pretty basic but it's also loaded with that delectable lemon flavor and also boasts a creamy texture that swoons.
Two nights ago, when it was a solid 77 degrees come 7PM, I made my first ever pot of Greek lemon orzo soup. With knowledge of a few basic principles that define the traditional Greek soup, I pulled off one simple and delicious weeknight meal. Heck, it it was even approved by Chris, who also deems himself a "soup hater." Lemon lovers, and former soup haters; this soup's for you.
Greek Lemon Orzo and Chicken Soup
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
3 eggs plus one additional yolk
1 pound cooked chicken, cut or torn in bite-size pieces (I use the breast meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
3/4 cup orzo
64 ounces chicken stock
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
Fresh dill for garnish
1) In a large pot, on medium heat, sauté celery and onions with 2 tablespoons EVOO until softened. Season with a couple pinches of salt. Now, add the butter, bay leaf, lemon zest, and minced garlic and continue sautéing for another 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a light boil.
2) Add the orzo to the boiling stock and after 5 minutes, add the cooked chicken. While the orzo continues to cook, crack three eggs and one extra egg yolk in a mixing bowl. Begin whisking the eggs and slowly pour in the lemon juice, incorporating it with the eggs.
3) While continuing to whisk, slowly add 1-2 ladles of broth to the egg and lemon juice mixture to temper it. When the egg and lemon juice mixture is slightly warmed, pour it into the soup and whisk vigorously. Soup should thicken and be creamy and pale yellow in color.
4) Crack some black pepper in the soup and stir. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill and some loose dill if you'd like.
5) Enjoy! Feel free to add another squeeze of fresh lemon to your bowl if you love the flavor.
***Makes 4 large bowls.