In Greek, ” avgolemono ” means egg-lemon. In practice, it means creamy, cozy, lemony chicken soup.
Image by John Mahoney
Looking out the windows of Winter Stew HQ this afternoon, I noticed a lack of gray clouds and oppressive sleet. I explored further. A massive, burning orb had appeared overhead. It seemed to be issuing warmth of its own accord. How strange.
Back inside, I considered life with a source of warmth other than the bubbling pot on the stove and the friends gathered around it. I immediately thought of avgolemono, a Greek stew flavored with lemon and thickened with eggs. Avgolemono is perfectly suited to evenings when you know warmer climes are coming, but haven’t quite arrived.
One of the most frequently asked questions submitted to the Stew Desk inbox is “what’s the difference between a soup and a stew?” To that question, friends, there is no easy answer. When I think of “stew,” I think of a thick, rich liquid, in which are suspended hearty chunks of meat and vegetables cooked until tender and delicious. And since I’m the stew correspondent, what I say goes.
Avgolemono sits squarely in the center of the stew/soup continuum. It’s fresh and lemony. But I would argue that there’s a whole chicken boiled for an hour, which puts this recipe decisively in stew territory — not to mention the rich broth thickened with creamy beaten eggs. But you can easily omit the chicken and some of the rice, creating a smooth, velvety soup.
Recipe adapted from Max and Eli Sussman’s This Is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life
1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds
2 32-ounce containers of good chicken stock (or use homemade!)
1½ cups long-grain white rice (or you can try orzo for extra Greekiness)
4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
3 lemons, juiced
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
4 or 5 strips of bacon, fried and crumbled
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1. Rinse the chicken (and remove any gizzards or other fun organs from inside), and put it in a large pot or Dutch oven.
Image by Emily Fleischaker