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A simple Greek soup. February 27, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , ,

Silence Dogood here. Mr. Hays, the patriarch of our beloved Hays family, is planning to celebrate his 90th birthday by going on a cruise to the Greek Islands this April. (An appropriate choice, since one of his first foreign service posts was to Greece back in the day. It should be fun to go back!)

As faithful readers know, Mr. Hays is an enthusiastic and accomplished cook who has shared some wonderful recipes with me (and thus with you on this blog). So I thought I’d do my part of the trip preparations by sending him Greek recipes to help him get in a Mediterranean mood. And of course, since they’re so healthy and delicious, why not share them with you all? This week’s recipe is for Greece’s most famous soup, Avgolemono. It’s everything a springtime soup should be: Easy, healthy, flavorful, and fast. With March just minutes away, it seemed like the perfect choice!


7 1/2 cups flavorful chicken stock

1/2 cup orzo pasta

3 eggs

juice of 1 large lemon

salt and pepper

lemon slices to garnish

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes. Beat the eggs until frothy, then add the lemon juice and a tablespoon of cold water. Slowly stir in a ladleful of the hot chicken stock, then add one or two more. Pour the egg-stock mixture back into the pot of stock, off the heat, and stir well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately, garnished with lemon slices. (Do not let the soup boil once the eggs have been added or it will curdle.) Serves 4-6.

This recipe comes from the big, beautiful book The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by Jacqueline Clarke and Joanna Farrow (Hermes House, 2007). If you can find it, you’ll be glad you did!

But what if you’re a vegetarian like me? Obviously, I’d swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock, but that won’t give you the bright flavor that chicken stock would. So I’d also add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter (or both) to create a brighter, richer flavor. And much as I adore pasta, I’m not big on it in soup, so I confess, I’d swap out the orzo for rice. Maybe I’d even serve it with some baby arugula and feta cheese crumbled on top of each bowl. Hmmm, a few roasted red pepper strips? Yum!!!

If you try it or a variation, let me know what you think. And keep an eye out for more Greek recipes here on Poor Richard’s Almanac!

         ‘Til next time,




1. linda - February 27, 2009

Sounds simple and delicious Silence, and the vegetarian version sounds just as good. I’m with you on substituting rice for orzo.

Best wishes to Mr. Hays on his 90th birthday – he sounds like an adventurous fellow, and I hope he has a wonderful, memorable trip.

Thanks, Linda! And thanks for the kind wishes for Mr. Hays! He’s really one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever known, and a great endorsement for the philosophy of keeping active, keeping engaged, and learning new things your whole life. (He learned to cook in his 80s, and has been busily brushing up his Greek for this trip. Plays—and wins—at least two chess matches a day. Takes his beloved dachshund Maggie to the park for long walks daily. And so much more. Talk about keeping mind and body engaged! Wow.)

2. nancybond - February 27, 2009

Keeping mind and body engaged is the whole trick to living to a *healthy* old age — many happy returns to Mr. Hays. That is a wonderful milestone! Your recipe is just as impressive — I love the simplicity of Greek food.

I agree, Nancy (great genes help, too)! And I’m always awed by how wonderful and easy Mediterranean food is—no wonder OFB wolfed down the entire pot of the Mediterranean pasta I tossed together the other day (“Baking soda saves the day”). Greek salad, feta, kalamata olives, warm Greek pita… mmmmm!!!! More good recipes to come!

3. Deb - February 28, 2009

90 years of age and still traveling, how inspiring. That soup sounds good and a lot like my egg drop soup just with pasta.

We’re certainly inspired! Wow. He can run circles around us! And you’re right, this does sound a lot like egg drop soup.

4. Cinj - February 28, 2009

My grandpa loved to travel but wasn’t able to for so long. It’s good to hear he’s in good enough health to travel.

OFB’s grandmother also loved to travel and was able to do quite a bit of it in the last ten years of her life. I guess it just goes to show it’s never too late!

5. jodi (bloomingwriter) - March 1, 2009

I love avgolemono, but haven’t made it for ages! Thanks for reminding me about it…maybe I’ll make some to take to work with me when I leave Tuesday morning for this week’s adventures.

Go for it, Jodi! Looking forward to hearing about your adventures over at Bloomingwriter!

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