Something strange has been happening here in Southern California lately. The weather, our fair and constant friend in these parts, has seemed to turn against us. I awoke on a recent morning to find ice on my windshield, and that the frost had killed the last of my bell pepper plants. Now, I know that the rest of the country has it much worse than this region when it comes to winter. However, buildings in this area are not made to withstand the cold. Especially not my 1950’s bungalow triplex, which has no insulation, and contains vents in the floor that open up to the outdoors through vents in the crawlspace, so the inside of our apartment is always within 10 degrees of the outside temperature. Always.
We do have an old-school built-in gas heater, but when I turn it on I can see an open flame flickering through frosted glass at the bottom of the vent in the floor, and this completely terrifies me. Alas, I have come to depend on my tiny electric heater, heating pad, and hot food to keep myself toasty. And nothing makes me feel warm inside and out like a hot bowl of avgolemono soup. The Greek’s version of chicken noodle soup, avgolemono soup translates to egg lemon soup, and is made from chicken broth, eggs, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
The eggs are separated and the whites are beaten until light and foamy,
then the yolks and lemon juice are whisked in and the entire mixture is
slowly incorporated into the broth. Beating the egg whites like this
creates a wonderfully thick and silky texture. I think the
best way to describe it is “liquid velvet”. It’s me and Jeremy’s
favorite soup, hand down, and this is the recipe my dad has used for who
knows how many years. He also puts celery in his, but I didn’t have any
laying around and it turned out completely fine without it. However, if
you’d like to add some in just follow the same instructions for them as
for the onions. Hope this helps keeps you nice and toasty on these cold winter nights! (It’s also great at fighting off colds, protein from the eggs and chicken plus vitamin C from the lemons = happy immune system).
3/4 Cup Orzo Noodles or Rice
Remove the skin from the chicken and cut off the legs. Place the chicken and the chopped onions in a medium sized pot and add just enough water to where the chicken is barely covered by the water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water and bring it to a boil. After about 10-15 minutes of boiling, some froth should start to surface on the broth. Skim the froth off the top and discard it. Do this every 5-10 minutes of boiling. Boil the bird for an hour, or until it is cooked through. Preheat the oven to broil.
Remove the chicken from the broth and place it in an oven-proof pan, breast facing up. Use a slotted spoon to take out the onions and place them around the chicken in the pan. In a small bowl, mix together the juice from 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, half the oregano, and a teaspoon of salt. Drizzle it over the chicken and the onions, then place the pan in the oven and broil the chicken for 15 minutes or until it is lightly golden on top.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups of water to the broth and another teaspoon of salt and bring back up to a boil again. Add 3/4 cup orzo noodles or rice and boil until they’re cooked all the way through, then remove the pot from heat and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg whites until a foam forms on top. Then mix in the egg yolks and the juice from the remaining two lemons until fully incorporated. Make sure the broth has sat at room temperature off of the heat source for about 10 minutes before this next step. Slowly ladle the hot broth into the lemon-egg mixture, whisking all the while.
Continue adding the broth until 2 cups of the broth have been incorporated into the lemon-egg mixture. The broth should be slightly thick and frothy at this point, like the photo above. Then whisk the lemon-egg mixture into the large pot of broth until fully mixed. Add the remaining oregano, then taste and add the rest of the salt and pepper if you’d like. Serve warm with the roasted chicken on the side.