We have a few cool rainy days ahead, so I decided we need something warm, but lively, and not too heavy for lunch—a spring soup, perhaps! We need something to brighten up our table and our taste buds. Lemon brings a bit of zing to this dish and the colour reminds me of the yellow flowers in my garden, with fresh chives to finish it off nicely. This recipe is a take on the traditional Greek Lemon Chicken soup called Avgolemono. With a few ingredient twists, it pushes it further into the Mediterranean Sea, sharing spices from other bordering cuisines.
Whether you make it from scratch or not, it’s an easy recipe to whip up. If you are keen to do it from scratch, roast a chicken the night before, enjoy it for dinner and shred the leftover meat. Keep the drippings and bones too. The next morning, make the broth with the drippings and bones, then follow this recipe. You will need 8 cups of broth. The quick version is to use a couple of boxes of no salt chicken broth and buy a rotisserie chicken at Metro or Sobey’s.
If you love lemon, (ed. note: I really, really do!) this might just become one of your new favourite soups. There’s something silky about it too that comes from the addition of eggs which is used to thicken the soup. I added a few other flavouring spices, including turmeric—not only does it give the soup a brighter, more appealing colour, it adds a hint of exotic flavour!
Mediterranean Lemon Chicken Soup
4 to 6 servings
- 8 cups chicken stock – no salt
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 1 onion with skin, cut in half
- 1 carrot, cut in half
- 1 inch ginger, cut in slices
- 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ½ cup orzo pasta (or rice)
- 1½ to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- handful of chives, chopped, for garnish
In a large pot over medium-low heat, pour in the chicken stock and all the vegetables and seasoning under the base ingredients, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and let it cook gently for 1 hour.
Strain and remove all the solids and return the seasoned broth to the large pot. Taste and adjust salt level. Add in the orzo, cover and simmer for 5 minutes to cook al dente. If you don’t have orzo (Italian pasta that looks like rice), use rice.
Add in the chicken, stir and turn off the heat to let the soup cool a bit for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs and slowly drizzle in one cup of the warm broth to temper the eggs. (You do this step to prevent having scrambled eggs in the soup!)
Slowly and carefully, drizzle the warmed egg mixture into the pot and continue to stir. Turn the heat back onto a simmer. Add in the turmeric and keep stirring, constantly, for 5 minutes or so, till the soup thickens.
Serve in individual bowls with chopped fresh chives.