Avgolemono soup

(Food Styling/Lisa Falso; Erik Jacobs for The Boston Globe)
January 20, 2010

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Serves 4

Classic avgolemono, the Greek egg-lemon soup, typically contains a little rice and a few pieces of chicken. Add more chicken if you want to make the bowls substantial enough for a main course. This recipe begins with 3 chicken breast halves to give the broth lots of flavor, but you use only 1 1/2 of them for the soup. Make chicken salad from the rest or roll up shredded meat in warm pita with chopped cucumbers, lettuce, and salsa. Orzo is rice-shaped pasta.

3 chicken breast halves on the bone
1 quart water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup long-grain white rice or orzo
3 eggs
Juice of 2 lemons
Pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
1. In a large saucepan, combine the chicken, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, skim the surface thoroughly, and lower the heat. Cover the pan and simmer the chicken for 45 minutes or until it is cooked through.

2. Remove the chicken from the liquid. Tip the broth into a bowl and leave to cool. Refrigerate until chilled. Refrigerate the chicken separately.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the rice or orzo. Cook the rice for 12 minutes or the orzo for 8 minutes or until they are tender. Drain into a colander.

4. Skim off and discard the fat from the broth. Skin about 1 1/2 of the chicken breasts and cut the meat into 1/4-inch pieces, discarding the bones; set aside.

5. In a soup pot, return the broth to a boil. Add the cut-up chicken and simmer for 2 minutes or until it is hot. Remove the pot from the heat.

6. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, lemon juice, and pepper. While whisking with one hand, slowly add a ladle of the hot broth to the egg mixture with the other, beating constantly. Beat in another ladle of the hot broth in the same way.

7. Using the same method of beating gradually, beat the egg mixture into the pot of soup, stirring constantly. Return the soup to the medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the mixture thickens slightly. Do not let it bubble, even at the edges. Add the rice or orzo and stir well.

8. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley. Sheryl Julian