Healthy Dinner #3: Greek Avgolemono, Chicken, and Orzo Soup
Holy hot pads! I’ve been cooking my butt off! (Hah! If only . . . but then again, OUCH!)
For as much as I love to cook, I have to say that I’m looking forward to kicking my feet up this weekend and ordering Chinese take out.
Anyway, if you’re in the greater Chicagoland area, you know that the Arctic temps have come for a visit, unpacked their bags, and have settled in for a long, unwelcome stay in the guest room. As such, it’s time to break out a steaming, satisfying soup to warm up your people as they come home to nest.
If you’ve ever ordered soup in a Greek restaurant, chances are you’ve had this one. It’s pronounced “Ahv-goh-LEH-moh-noh”, which means egg lemon, and has a light and lovely, tangy taste and a creamy feel. With chunks of chicken, orzo, and carrots, it’s also quite substantial. This is a lighter and therefore probably less authentic version of the original. It’s still darn good though. I served it with a Greek salad and Italian bread, and, at meal’s end, we were all very satisfied, in a Mediterranean sort of way.
Burly son #1 came home late from an after school obligation just as we were sitting down to eat and practically slapped on scuba gear and dove into this soup. I love sitting down to eat dinner as a family. It’s really the only time of the day when we’re all together, so I’m glad he was able to make it in time despite his inability to converse right away due to his head-first dive into his soup bowl.
Apropos of nothing, Burly son #2 has recently taken to calling me “Mammy”. I don’t know why. I try not to ask. Asking merely encourages his shenanigans. Truthfully though, sometimes my husband and I do encourage his shenanigans, especially at the dinner table. He’s like an 11-year-old stand up comedian, except sitting down. We consider it dinner theater.
I digress. Suffice it to say, gathering for dinner as a family is this “Mammy’s” favorite time of the day.
Especially when I have something as hot, healthy, and delicious as this soup to serve my gang of goofballs.
Recipe courtesy of: MyRecipes.com
Yield: 4, 2-cup servings
6 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
4 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Here are the key players. Look. No oil, no butter – only healthy ingredients. Well, actually the salt is a little suspicious, but everything in moderation, eh?
Bring broth and dill to a boil in a large saucepan. Add orzo. (Confession: I forgot the dill at this stage, but added it later. The world kept spinning.)
Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until orzo is slightly tender. Remove from heat.
Place eggs and juice in a blender; process until smooth.
Purposeful digression this time . . . do you know about pressing and rolling a lemon before cutting it and trying to squeeze out the juice? If not, you have to try it. In essence, you’re breaking down all of those little juice holding membranes inside of the lemon with the pressure of the heel of your palm. Squeezing the juice out after busting open those “little lemon juice tube thingies” is a breeze. (Burly son #2 is my hand model here. He wanted to invite a friend over, so he was being particularly agreeable. I’m convinced his agreeability was utterly sincere. I enjoy my little dream world.)
Where were we? Oh yeah, place eggs and juice in a blender; process until smooth.
Remove 1 cup broth from pan with a ladle, making sure to leave out orzo. With blender on, slowly add broth; process until smooth. (By doing so, you’re slowly raising the temperature of the eggs so they don’t scramble when you eventually mix them in with the rest of the hot broth. The fancy word for this process is “tempering”. See, you really do learn something new every day! I removed the little plastic knob in the top of my blender so I could drizzle in the liquid while the blender was on and not decorate my walls with lemon juice and frothy eggs. It’s important to keep the blender running while you’re doing this so the heat is evenly distributed.)
Add carrot, salt, pepper, and chicken to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook 5 minutes or until chicken and orzo are done. Reduce heat to low.
Slowly stir in tempered egg mixture; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. (Do not bring the soup to a boil or you will end up having wet scrambled eggs and tough chicken nuggets for supper.)
How delish does this meal look? The soup is creamy, lemony goodness in a bowl.
Oh, and the full salad demanded its moment in the spotlight as well . . .
Avgolemono Nutritional Info.:
Fat 6.3 g
Sat fat 1.9 g
Mono fat 2.2 g
Poly fat 1 g
Protein 25.3 g
Carbohydrate 16.6 g
Fiber 2.9 g
Cholesterol 244 mg
Iron 2.6 mg
Sodium 855 mg
Calcium 68 mg