Nourishing Chicken Soup with Lemon (Avgolemeno Soup)
Avgolemeno is a traditional Greek soup that includes egg and lemon – the egg acts as a thickener to the broth. While Sylvie of course makes a traditional French chicken soup, the suggestion to add some lemon juice to it comes from Erik. She tries it, and this is the nourishing soup she prepares for Father Barbier when he is ill. I like to think Erik must have tried a version of this soup during his travels.
Just as in the recipe below, Sylvie would most certainly have started by cooking a whole chicken.
Directions: Rinse the chicken and remove any bits that may be inside the cavity. Place the chicken in a pot large enough to hold it comfortably, but not too much room or the broth will be watery. Add the chicken neck if that is included with your chicken. Fill with enough water to cover the chicken by about 1 inch. Add the chopped/sliced vegetables, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, skimming the fat from the top as it collects.
When the chicken is done, the meat should pull from the bones easily. Transfer the bird to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Using a large slotted spoon, remove and discard the cooked vegetables. Add the rice, and season the broth with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 20 more minutes, or until rice is tender.
Whisk the eggs with the lemon juice in a heat-proof bowl. When the rice is done, turn off the heat. Whisk one ladle full of hot broth into the eggs slowly so the eggs do not curdle. Gradually whisk in more broth until the egg mixture is heated. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pot, whisking briskly. The result should be a creamy, cloudy looking soup. You may season with additional salt, pepper or lemon juice at this point.
Shred some of the cooked chicken meat and stir into the soup before serving. Keep the rest of the chicken for sandwiches or another meal.
Note: The amount of lemon juice may be too much if you are not used to this type of soup, so next time, reduce the amount to one lemon instead of two.