"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Avgolemono Soup: I Can Make It (But I Still Can’t Pronounce It)

by Julie on June 26, 2011

in Dinner, Lunch, Soup is Easy, Soups

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My Big Fat Unpronounceable Soup

Back when I used to date the Flamenco Guitarist, we would often eat at the Greek cafe across the street from the Spanish restaurant/nightclub where he gigged. We always ordered a delicious, creamy, lemony chicken and rice soup that came with warm pita wedges as an appetizer. Sometimes we’d just order that by itself.

But I could never pronounce it.

“I’ll have the albondigas soup, please.”

“That’s the Mexican meatball soup,” the Flamenco Guitarist would whisper.

“I know. I mean that rice and lemon soup stuff. Starts with an ‘A…'”

“Avgolemono.”

“Yes, the Avaogabababa soup, please. Small.”

Sometimes they’d try to help me, the friendly waitstaff at George’s.

“Av-go-le-mono,” they’d say.

“Avglomenomeno…”

“Av…”

‘Av…”

“Go…”

“Go…

“Lemono…”

“Avglomememeneo…..”

And then I’d fix them with the Death Look.

“Yes ma’am.”

The waiter would scurry off and the guitarist would (wisely) pour me another glass of wine.

Tonight I was wondering what to make for dinner, and Googled this very soup, in part just to gauge whether I should go downtown and buy myself some from George’s, or if I could possibly make it myself. I imagined the former, since I figured such a flavorful soup by definition had to be ridiculously involved and vastly beyond my abilities.

Shocked to find, not so.

In fact, you can whip this up in the time it takes to cook rice; about 20 minutes.

Here’s how I did it, riffing on the Epicurious recipe:

4 cups chicken broth (that’s one box of Trader Joe’s free-range chicken broth to you, brotha)
1/4 cup Orzo or rice  (I used 1/3 cup Basmati rice, because I like ricey soup….)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons of whole-fat yogurt (I added this for increased creaminess.)

In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a light boil, and add your rice. Stir, season expertly, and simmer until the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes. (Less if you’re using orzo).

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt and lemon juice together until blended.

Add a ladle-full of hot broth into this egg/lemon mixture and mix until blended. Then dump all of this back into the saucepan and gently heat thru.

I got fancy and added some chopped cilantro.

Serve with some nice crusty bread. Add a salad and you’ve got a meal. If you’ve got cheap red wine and a funny little Greek man sitting on a stool in the corner playing a bouzouki, you could pretend you’re at George’s Greek Cafe! OPA!

Who knew avgolemono soup was that easy?

Come to find out that this is just one of a family of egg and lemon soups or sauces, and may be of Sephardic origin. Explains why I like it so much.

Go ahead and chuckle. But it’s not like we were eating unpronounceable Greek soups at my house growing up. I had no idea a soup like this could be this simple to make until tonight.

Life’s a journey, right?

I hereby rename this, Julie’s Lemon and Rice Soup.

You’re welcome.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Zinn Fromm June 26, 2011 at 4:50 am

Julie, I love this, thank you! My younger son left for camp yesterday and my older son is leaving today. I’m feeling a little lonely already (although I’ve also been waiting for this day for months.) Your column cheered me up and I might actually make this soup!

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Julie R July 5, 2011 at 1:00 am

This was the first dish I ever made for a date for dinner – with salad, crusty bread and a light red – when I was 18 years old. We ended up being together for five years and I still have some serious regrests about leaving him. It’s a really good soup!

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