Get Thicker, Heartier Soups Using Cooked Rice

For the uninitiated, this is chicken and rice soup with a hint of lemon and dill. For those in the know, this is the good stuff. This is the stuff I wasn't allowed to make during my time in the Greek restaurant, because it's the kind of thing only a mother's touch can truly perfect. I am, however, one persistent mother, and got to learnin', though I will admit it's a bit complicated.

Photos by Sam Bithoney

First of all, tempering eggs is a pain in the arse. I just want soup! I want that rich, sunshine filled broth without the whisking and potential curdling. But how can I get the same thickness without practice and patience? One word, two syllables: Blender.

Traditional jar style or immersion blenders will work just fine. You don't need to refinance your home so you can get one that's capable of making soup with only the POWER OF ITS OWN BLADES. Find something with good reviews and an even better warranty.

Instead of slowly whisking hot broth into the eggs, I'm bringing the party to the jar. By blending rich, thick egg yolks and hot, starchy rice together with the broth, you'll get a foolproof puree that seriously elevates your soup game.

Avgolemono (Greek Egg & Lemon) Soup

  • 4 cups of chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups of cooked white rice (nothing aromatic -- skip the jasmine and basmati here)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 500g cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper

Yep. That's it. Soup, in addition to everything else we eat, has gotten needlessly excessive and complicated over the years, and I am a big fan of applying the K.I.S.S. principle to cooking. I want to taste my food, not "order" a "metaphor" for "baleen whales".

Start by bringing the broth to a simmer in a large saucepan. For the broth, I tend to do half "full" sodium and half "low" when using boxed broths in recipes like this. Because there are so few ingredients, they can easily overpower each other. And that comes from someone who loves salt.

Once heated, transfer one cup of the warmed broth to your blender. Add in 1/2 cup of the rice, two egg yolks, and the lemon juice, pureeing beautifully smooth.

Be careful who you make fun of in high school.

Add your puree back to the saucepan, along with the chicken and remaining rice. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until just thickened. Stir in the dill, and you're done.

And if you're thinking to yourself, "I wonder if this works with other soups", it absolutely does. And not just with rice -- everyone's favourite instant potatoes work amazingly well for this kind of result.

To prevent yourself eating a bowl of mashed potato clam chowder though, keep your flakes to about one cup per four of soup at most, adding no more than a tablespoon at a time and stirring until dissolved.

Now, for those after more broth, know that rinsing a long grain white rice will remove quite a bit of starch. Short and medium grain rices will result in thicker, almost porridge like stews, so stick to the plain Jane stuff.

For such a simple dish, the complexity of such ordinary flavours is amazing. Just the slightest tweak -- a pinch of nutmeg or dash of soy sauce -- will change the entire experience for everyone. And around here, simple delicious dishes are best way to sustain yourself.


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