There is a Greek soup called avgolemono. It is pure comfort food to any Greek, speaking to us of the days when we lived at home and Mum fed us soup when we weren’t well. Or when we had a broken heart. Or just because we loved it so.
I remember being on holiday with all the cousins, one Easter, in a big rambling house in St Osyth, and my sister, Nina, had made an enormous pan of it. It was in the fridge, and my Mum kept sneaking into the kitchen and stealing a mugful of it.
It is usually made from simmered whole chickens, their flesh turned silky and slippery, all their goodness gone into the stock that surrounded them.
Once the birds have been taken out, and portioned (never throw anything away) the stock is skimmed and brought to a gentle simmer. Rice is added, and when that is tender, the heat is turned off, and one ladleful of the stock is whisked slowly into eggs beaten with fresh lemon juice, until they heat up.
This is then stirred back into the stock/rice mixture, producing a cloudy, cream looking soup. We either pop the chicken back in, or keep it warm and eat it afterwards. Cubed halloumi can be added in to the soup instead of the chicken, and the chicken used the next day.
There are other uses for the avgolemono sauce. As a dressing over steamed vegetables, a sauce to pour over stuffed vine leaves, or just added to other dishes to thicken the sauce up.
This was christened How to Make Simon Wibble Chicken, because the first time he ate it, he almost fainted with happiness.
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly lengthways
1 bag ready washed spinach
3 chicken breasts, skin removed (it will just go flabby otherwise) and then cubed
1 large lemon
1 large egg
1 medium white onion, very thinly sliced
1 200g block feta cheese, cubed
Slice the onions and fry them until translucent and soft in a decent amount of olive oil. (Decent may vary from normal person to Greek)
Add the garlic and also cook through but DO NOT brown it.
Add the chicken. Stir well to colour all over.
Add the spinach. Just lay it on top of the chicken so it steams and put a lid on.
After about 10 – 15 minutes the chicken should be done and the spinach wilted.
There will be a LOT of liquid – this is good!
Add in the cubed feta, stir to mix well and turn off the heat.
Juice the lemon.
Beat the egg and lemon juice together and gradually add spoonfuls of the hot liquid to the mixture then return the egg mix to the pan.
Turn the heat back on but it has to be a very low heat.
Stir continuously until the liquid thickens. It should look like a cream sauce.
Season to taste.
Sadly I have no photo, because we ate it too quickly. I expect I shall just have to make it again, and update here when I do.
I imagine you could make this with blocks of very firm tofu, or chunks of Quorn fillets, though add some vegetable stock powder to the juices to up the flavour content. You don’t want it to be bland.
Eat with a spoon and a friend.