Dear People of Greek Heritage,
I mean you no harm! I come in peace! I simply seek a comforting chicken soup with lemon, and maybe also some egg that's whisked in to make it creamy and delicious. Historically, your avgolemono is a soup just like that (what are the odds?) and though I am not one of your people, I want some of it to call my own. Listen up, though: this will be a mere nod to the recipe of your ancestors, I pretend to know nothing of Greece except:
*I like your yogurt
*I saw a movie about a big, fat wedding
*I had a crush on a Pappas boy in junior high school
In order to remedy this, I set about educating myself. But upon googling 'avgolemono', I found that the word must have a dual meaning that arouses the angry spirits of Greek critics past. Scathing reviews were scattered below every recipe I referenced. There were Greek shouts aplenty, on topics including (but not limited to): authentic Greek cuisine, the importance of including orzo, and horrified Yia-Yias rolling over in their graves.
Dare I say? It's just soup. Do you own chicken soup with lemon and egg? Do you OWN it? Ok, I can feel you getting upset. Maybe you do own it. I'm sorry. Here, have some feta.
One recipe I found extolled the virtues of the staunchly AUTHENTIC version and insisted on homemade stock and orzo, but then peppered throughout the instructions were lines like use your own judgement and whatever tastes best to you and even swap orzo for rice if you want. Is this some kind of Greek trick? Like: fiddle with the recipe if you dare??
I'm gonna go out on a Greek limb here and make my own version. I'm swapping the orzo for (watch out!) quinoa and using (gasp!) store-bought stock. Then I'm gonna serve it on a bed of wilted spinach. How do you like that? Oh God, I'm sorry. Please don't hate me/write mean comments.
I extend an olive branch. The kind with Greek olives.
(not to be confused with the authentic version from the Old Country)
2T evoo (please make sure this is Greek olive oil*)
1 medium-large yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1T dried dill
1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
2 quarts chicken stock
3 eggs at room temperature (this is very important to avoid curdling)
1/3 cup plus 1T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper
2-1/2 cups cooked chicken (pull it from a grocery store rotisserie one to make it easy)
1/3 cup minced italian parsley (unless you can find Greek parsley*)
Baby spinach for serving
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers and then sauté the onion and garlic for 5-6 minutes, until translucent. Stir in the dill and the quinoa, coating it in the oil and onions for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and the lemon juice together, add a big pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. While you whisk whisk whisk, add about a 1/2 cup of the hot soup to the egg mixture to temper it, then slowly add the egg mixture into the big pot of hot soup a little bit at a time, whisking furiously the whole time. (We don't want scrambled eggs here!) Keep whisking for another minute after it's all added. When the soup has reached a simmer again, add the cooked chicken and parsley, heating everything through. Taste for salt. Add a handful of baby spinach to each bowl and ladle the hot soup over the top. Enjoy immediately and pray no Greek food historians will smite us. Opa!
P.S. Hi to new email subscribers! I'm so glad/grateful you're here:)
P.P.S. Fun fact: the word "Greek" appears 11 times in this post.
P.P.S. Have you met my chicken supervisor?: