Cold Snap – Avgolemono

A cold front moved through town yesterday, changing our weather from upper 70s to just above freezing. My desk in the study at home sits at the front of the house, right next to a window. You’d think I’d learn to put on socks or something – brr!

Cold weather always takes me towards soups, braises, and slow-cooked hearty goodness. However, under major deadlines at work last week, and covering for Christine at the art market over the weekend, I’ve had little or no time to do any real cooking since I’ve been back. That should all change tonight… but that’s for another post.

Many of you (okay, two – statistically many) have asked about the salad in the steak au poivre post below. I’ve got a writeup waiting in the wings on side dishes, but this one is easy. It’s grilled romaine salad. Halve a romaine heart, brush with a bit of olive oil, and grill cut side down until the lettuce begins to char and smoke. Salt, pepper, dress, and top with shredded parmesan.

Today, we go Greek. This isn’t exactly chicken noodle soup, but it’s a bracingly crisp and warming soup nonetheless, equally at home on a cold winter day or on a warm spring afternoon. The flavors are simply chicken and lemon, thickened by the egg and cooked with rice to add some body. This is a tart, almost sour soup, but in a really clean and good way. I’d post pictures, but the last batch came out white – in a white bowl – on a white countertop – you get the idea. This is a quick soup for a weeknight or even a weekday lunch at home. Enjoy.

Avgolemono (serves 4)

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Boil the rice in chicken stock for about 20 minutes.

Whisk the egg whites to medium peak. Gently whisk egg yolks and lemon juice into egg whites.

Temper egg mixture with hot soup. Whisk egg mixture into soup and return to heat. Cook gently until thick (do NOT boil). Adjust seasonings and serve.

NOTE: We are working with eggs here, and trying very hard not to overcook them. However, it’s worth noting that there is a way to still handle the eggs safely and avoid any risks of uncooked eggs. Harold McGee’s On Food And Cooking, one of the best texts out there for understanding what happens to your foot, notes that if we cook eggs to 140 degrees F for 5 min, or 160 degrees F for 1 minute, we’ll kill any unsavory bacteria in the eggs (page 83). The soup thickens at around 180 degrees, although I do recommend having a candy thermometer on hand if you can to watch the temperature. Regardless, once it thickens and reaches temperature, make sure to hold it for a minute or two so any bacteria are killed.