It’s been cooling off which means that it is time to do less grilling and more soups and stews. Avgolemono is my favorite soup. I think that if Greece focused on making this soup its primary export, then they would no longer be in financial crisis.
The first step is to prepare the rice. It is best to do this a day ahead, but I usually don’t plan my meals ahead of time so I end up doing this in the morning. The reason you need to cook the rice in advance is that when cooked rice gets cold, it gets very firm. I’m sure you have noticed this with leftover Chinese takeout. The firmness helps the rice stand up to being immersed in a hot liquid which would turn fresh rice into mush. Start by rinsing 3 cups of long grain rice thoroughly to get rid of the starch on the outside of the grains. Then cook the rice in a rice cooker with about 2/3 of the suggested water, let cool, and then place in the fridge overnight.
Cut 1/2 of a white onion into rings.
Cut a lemon into half-slices.
Place the onion rings, 3 bone-in with skin chicken breasts, the lemon slices, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp kosher salt, 2 bay leaves, and 64 oz (2 boxes) of chicken broth in a large pot. The broth should just cover the chicken, but you can add more if it does not. Maybe the chicken breasts you use were raised by Dolly Parton, I can’t be sure. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 25 minutes to cook the chicken thoroughly.
Once the chicken is done cooking, remove from the broth. Remove the skin, bones, and other non-meaty bits and place back them back in the broth. Let broth simmer while you prepare the other ingredients so as much of the chicken flavor gets into the broth as possible.
Cut the chicken meat into small cubes and set aside.
Get a lot of dill. I mean, a whole lotta dill.
Mince. You should end up with about 1/2 cups.
Cut the second half of the onion from earlier into the same sized dice as the carrot and celery. Then mince 3 garlic cloves.
Zest 4 lemons, and juice about 6 to get 3/4 cups of lemon juice.
Now that the prep is done, we can reclaim that simmering broth.
Place a strainer over a bowl and pour in the broth, bones, and leftover veggies.
Wipe out the pot and then add 1 tbsp of olive oil and the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Allow to sweat for 5-10 minutes over medium-high heat until the they get tender, but not completely done.
Pour about 3/4 cups of broth out of another box into a tightly sealable container, and add the rest to the soup. Then add 3 tbsp of arrowroot starch to the separated broth and shake thoroughly until the starch has dissolved completely, making a “slurry”. Pour the slurry into the soup. Add the lemon zest and bring to a simmer. Once simmering stir in 2 small cans of condensed cream of chicken soup and mix thoroughly. Then crack an egg into a bowl, and pour into the simmering soup while stirring vigorously. Do this again with a second egg. This will make little egg bits throughout the soup and add body.
When the veggies are done, drop in the reserved chicken, the dill, and 3/4 cups of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When you are ready to serve, add the rice in at the last minute so that it does not get mushy.