Kitchen Lab: YES! Soup for you!

Since we here in the Midwest had a lovely second winter last week (distinctly less pleasant than second breakfast), I thought I might like some nice soup. And really, how hard can soup be? You put a bunch of stuff that you like all in one pot, pour some water over it, make it hot, and SOUP FOR YOU.

Okay, maybe there are a few more rules to soup than that. It wouldn’t work well if you just threw a few of your favorite things into a pot, now would it? I would not want to try a sushi pecan cinnamon roll soup. Particularly after adding water; nobody likes soggy cinnamon rolls.

One of my favorite soups, however, is avgolemono. Literally “egg-lemon” in Greek, that’s pretty much the contents of the soup. Oh, and chicken… there’s chicken. So it’s either a fancified egg-drop soup, or a fancified chicken-noodle soup, take your pick. It’s friggin’ delish, though! Since I’m far away from the late-night Greek diners of my hometown (where you can get saganaki* at after-bar hours, awwyeah, booze-soaked cheese on FIRE) and the one local place I could reliably find it canned burned down a couple of years ago (unrelated to saganaki!), I wanted to make my own.**

Go to the store and get a big thing of chicken broth. Six cups worth. Some of the grocery stores I’ve been to are annoying and only have four-cup boxes (why boxes? iono)! Why would I want half a box of chicken broth sitting around? FORESEE MY NEEDS, GROCERY PEOPLE. You also need some chicken, about two cups worth. You can cook your own and cut it up if you like, or get it canned like tuna, but I leave that to you. You’ll also need rice, a carrot, and celery, which annoyingly ALSO comes in wrong-sized packages. Go home, Mother Nature, you are drunk… who ever needs that much celery?

Ok, now get out your big pot.

Ok, ok. I’ll wait. STOP GIGGLING.

Pour the broth into the pot and heat it until it’s almost boiling. Don’t ask me how you’re supposed to tell if it’s “almost” boiling, I just saw the teeny bubbles sticking to the edges of the pot and figured that small bubbles are almost big bubbles, and so that was the pre-explosive-boil stage.

While you’re waiting for the broth to almost-boil, slice up a stalk of celery and a carrot, the thinner the better. Luckily I was only cooking soup for myself, because apparently I really like to use my thumbnail as a finger-guard. Yep, I’m dumb: I kept getting too close to my thumb, cutting the eentsiest nick into my thumbnail, and JUMPING BACK AND FREAKING OUT OH MY FSM I’M GONNA SLICE MYSELF OPEN. Repeatedly.

Judging by how many little tiny nicks there were in my thumbnail, I don’t think I got any into the veggies, but just as well that it’s only me eating this batch. Maybe I should get one of those “As Seen On TV” chopping thingies. Because there’s always more if you wait, but call in the next 30 minutes.

avgolemono soup ingredients
Something seems like cheating here.

Put the carrot, celery, and a half a cup of rice or orzo into the broth. I don’t know what orzo is, aside from it being apparently more Greek than rice, but I also don’t have any so I used rice. Once I tried brown rice, and that didn’t work so well… so yeah, white rice it is until my friend Evans arrives this weekend with his stockpile of Greekness that will inevitably and magically transform my rice into orzo. Keep the whole thing “under” a boil (just don’t let it get TO boiling, I guess… I really hope an ‘under’ isn’t actually some obscure kitchen utensil I also don’t own) until the veggies and the rice are all nice and tender and not-hard any more. Recipes say 10-ish minutes, but YMMV.

small 2-cup chopper with 2 eggs in front of it on a counter
*insert huevos joke here*

Add your chicken and stir it up a bit. Keep up the heating-but-not-boiling, and throw a couple of eggs in a blender for a few seconds. WOO YEAH POWER TOOLS.

Um, please do not throw the whole egg in the blender. Crack it like a normal human being. Sheesh.

ANYWAY, put 3 tablespoons of lemon juice into the blender with the eggs and zap it again. Freshly-squeezed lemon juice is seriously worth it here, folks. Plus, I feel all healthy buying things from the produce section. I like smushing things, too, so win-win.

Now, I’m not sure just how the heck you’re supposed to do this without making a monstrous mess, but the recipe says to add 2 cups of the soup to your blender while it’s running. My blender kinda… um… isn’t really a blender, so perhaps that’s the issue, but this just seems like you’re asking to wear soup. You want to try anyway… it does good things for the soup.

Once you’re done painting your kitchen in blended soupy eggs, pour what’s left back into the soup pot and stir it in. Cook it a few minutes longer and do that weird “salt and pepper to taste” thing that so many recipes vaguely suggest. *handwaving* Personally, I just eat the soup.

You can always add more lemon juice if you want. I usually do, if there’s more lemon to smush.

So good and warm and lemony-fresh! (Wait, that’s not a phrase that’s associated with nom-tastic food, is it? Damn.)

Are any of you guys cooking? Trying any of the stuff I’ve suggested? Would you like to? Tell me about it in the comments!

avgolemono soup in a pot with a ladle

*(“OPA!” is Greek for “Oh, shit, your cheese is on fire!”)

**(Yes, I am aware that Chicago has a Greektown. I went to school down the street, it’s hard to miss. However, their restaurants do silly things like either A) close all early and stuff or B) have not-Greek folks dishing out meh-tastic Kronos and frozen fries. Perhaps I am missing something.)

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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  1. 1. That was my previous assumption about how soup was made. It seems the “water” was the broth, and “it” was the pot. *rainbow*
    2. You’re doing something wrong. Food shouldn’t hurt… unless you want it to. THE SAFEWORD IS BANANA.

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