Monday, 7 July 2008
First of all I want to say that these aren’t the best photos and they don’t do justice to this delicious Greek soup made exclusively of chicken stock, whisked egg and lemon juice.
The most important aspect of making avgolemono is to use excellent quality chicken stock since this is the main flavour of the soup. It is crucial! Imperative! Dire!
Are you starting to sense how important it is?
Most recipes for avgolemono start with a whole chicken and train you to make your own stock from scratch. If Jonas wasn’t a vegetarian then I would certainly go to the trouble, but I have to admit I am too lazy to spend all that time lovingly making chicken stock for a soup that only I will eat.
I’m going to provide you with a cheater’s version to avgolemono. Using this quick recipe you can whip up a delicious dinner in next to no time. I buy my stock from health stores or gourmet butchers because they tend to sell quality stocks. You don’t want it too salty or tasting of cardboard/cans.
My recipe uses the soup as an entrée (starter) but if you would like a light main course instead, use one chicken thigh fillet per person and separately cook a half/quarter cup of risoni, stelline or other tiny pasta shapes per person to stir through at the end.
This is such an easy soup to master and it yields a delicious meal. Once it's in your repertoire you’ll use it regularly!
Avgolemono (Greek Chicken & Lemon Soup)
Based on recipe from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. Serves 6 as starter.
2 litres excellent quality chicken broth
Juice of 2 lemons
2 chicken thigh fillets, cooked and shredded
1. Bring the broth to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat.
2. Whisk the eggs until they are very fluffy.
3. Add lemon juice and whisk again.
4. Add a ladle of hot broth to the egg, whisking to prevent cooking.
5. Whisk in another ladle of broth to bring the egg to the correct temperature.
6. Pour the egg mixture into the broth and whisk quickly to combine and prevent scrambling.
7. Add chicken meat and return broth to a low heat and cook very gently, stirring, until the egg is warmed through and turns the soup a pale yellow colour.
8. Season to taste and serve immediately.
This avgolemono is my contribution to Kate from A Merrier World's chicken-related event "Let Them Eat Chicken!" The event drew my attention because it discusses how international demands for cheap chicken meat has created cruel farming tactics which leads, down the line, to poor quality meat.
I think Kate’s event sheds the spotlight on an important factor, which I quote here: “Consumers engage in voluntary ignorance, in order to abrogate responsibility for animal welfare … Moreover, although consumers claim that they are willing to pay more for improved animal welfare, at point of purchase such claims are not translated into practice.”
Since Jonas is a vegetarian I don’t often buy meat, so when I do it’s a treat and I splurge on aged beef and organic lamb. I buy chicken even less because, until recently, I really didn’t like it. I thought it was a boring meat and wondered why so many little chickens had to die for us to eat such a mundane meal.
Then I realised that it was the chicken breast I disliked, those chunky, dry slabs of meat that do nothing for the palate, but that cheap chicken thighs, containing small amounts of fat, were full of flavour having lived so close to the chicken’s bone.
I have just started eating chicken and so Kate’s event drew my curiosity and has made me ponder what cuts of meat and which places I will buy my chicken from in future. I have decided to buy organic chicken. If I don’t eat it that often I can afford to buy the good stuff.
For the avgolemono, apart from the bought stock, the chicken thigh fillet I used in this dish was very flavoursome and beats a hunk of breast any day!
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