Chicken soup is a staple in many cultural cuisines including that of Greece. The Greek variety made with avgolemono, beaten egg and lemon, adds another level to the soup which is relatively simple to prepare. The vitamins and minerals in chicken soup also help boost the immune system. With carrots, celery, and onions typical of almost all recipes, chicken soup provides vitamins A, C and K, antioxidants, and magnesium, phosphorous, and selenium, while the chicken itself offers protein and amino acids for building antibodies that fight off infection. Studies have shown that the soup may have anti-inflammatory properties as it helps ease common cold symptoms like congestion and coughing. Warm liquids like chicken soup promote hydration and clear nasal passages as well. Of course, eating healthy, nutritious food year-round helps nourish the immune system. Vegetables are also well-known for their health benefits. Try the following soups for tasty weeknight meals.
Chicken Soup Avgolemono
Half a chicken
2-3 carrots, diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, cut in quarters
1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
Freshly-ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup rice or kritharaki (Greek orzo pasta)
For the avgolemono:
Rinse the chicken and set it to boil in a large deep pot with fresh, cold water. Once it comes to a boil skim off any foam or scum that collects on top. Add the carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper to the chicken in the pot. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and cut the cooked chicken into large chunks, or the size you prefer, remove skin and bones and return the chicken chunks to the soup pot. Add the rice or kritharaki to the pot and stir. Continue simmering over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the rice or kritharaki is cooked. Once the rice or kritharaki is cooked to the desired tenderness, switch off the heat and add the avgolemono.
To make the avgolemono, separate the egg, reserving the yolk, while beating the egg white in a medium bowl with a fork until frothy, add the yolk and continue beating. Add the juice of one lemon and continue beating. Slowly add a ladle full of the hot soup liquid to the bowl, beating constantly, to temper the beaten egg so it won’t curdle when added to the soup. Pour the egg lemon mixture into the pot and stir to combine completely. Serve hot with fresh bread, additional freshly-ground pepper and fresh lemon, if desired.
1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 small bunch celery, with leaves, chopped
1 small-medium cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, chopped
2 cups cooked beans, of your choice
10 cups vegetable broth or water, plus more as needed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Greek sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the celery, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, beans and broth. Add more broth or water, if needed, to cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then add the parsley. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender about 30-40 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve hot with a drizzle of Greek extra virgin olive oil and fresh bread, if preferred.