A Chicken Soup Recipe

This hearty Greek dish is chicken soup for the soul.
Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

Topped with avgolemono, or thick egg-lemon sauce, chef MIchael Psilakis' Whole Chicken Soup is full of bright flavors and textures.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

Image courtesy of Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

Topped with avgolemono, or thick egg-lemon sauce, chef MIchael Psilakis' Whole Chicken Soup is full of bright flavors and textures.

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"This is a hearty, traditional Greek dish," chef Michael Psilakis says of his Whole Chicken Soup. "The bones of the chicken add great body and flavor to this broth." 

Carrot, celery, onion, bay leaves and thyme add sweet and savory elements, but it's Psilakis' avgolemono—or egg-lemon sauce thickened with chicken broth—that makes this a standout soup full of brightness and texture. 

A perfect way to incorporate freshly laid eggs into a meal, the avgolemono comes together quickly at the end by whisking chicken broth and egg yolks while egg whites, lemon juice and dill whip up in a food processor. The addition of orzo makes this a complete meal. 

Whole Chicken Soup with Avgolemono and Orzo (Soupa Avgolemono)

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 (3 ½ pound) chickens
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons blended oil (90% canola, 10% extra-virgin olive)
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ stalks celery, finely chopped
  • ½ Spanish or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried leaves
  • 3 large sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup white wine
  • water as needed
  • 1 cup orzo

Avgolemono

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup small dill sprigs
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Remove the breasts from both chickens and double-wrap in plastic wrap. Place inside a zipper-lock bag, label and freeze. Remove the leg-thigh joints from the chicken, pull off the skin, and discard. Set aside.

Place the chickens in a large roasting pan, season with kosher salt and pepper, and roast for 1 hour, until golden.

In a large, heavy pot, warm the blended oil over medium-high heat. Add all the vegetables and cook until softened but not browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and thyme, then deglaze the pot with the white wine and cook until it completely evaporates. Add the roasted chicken carcasses. Season liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Add 4 leg-thigh pieces and continue to simmer for another 40 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Skim off the scum that rises at the beginning. Lift out the leg-thigh joints and when cool enough to handle, pull off and reserve the meat. Discard the carcasses and any stray bones and skim a little fat from the soup if you like. Bring soup to a boil, add the orzo and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes.

While the orzo is cooking, make the avgolemono. Get everything together so you can work quickly. Draw off 2 cups of the chicken broth, without any of the vegetables (or orzo); return the picked chicken meat to the soup. Slowly drizzle the warm chicken broth into the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Place the egg whites in a food processor and turn it on. When the whites begin to froth, after about 30 seconds, add the lemon juice, keeping the motor running all the time. When the whites are very frothy and thick (another 45 to 60 seconds), add the dill and process for 10 to 15 seconds more while you season liberally with salt and pepper. Pour in the egg yolk mixture and immediately turn the machine off. Pour the avgolemono over the soup and serve immediately before it deflates.

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