Found in translation.

Photography by Matt Hocking

Photography by Matt Hocking

Avgolemono is a delicate, creamy, cream-free Greek soup flavored with lemon and egg, unsurprising given that it’s name comes from αυγό and λεμόνιο – that’s Greek for egg and lemon and is pronounced “avgo” and “lemonio.” To make the soup, egg and lemon are tempered with hot chicken stock to make a delicate, cloudy broth with only the addition of rice.

Stracciatella, is an Italian soup flavored with lemon zest and egg. To make the literally translated “little shreds”, egg is blended with lemon zest, and parmesan, then drizzled into boiling broth.

Last night, in search of comfort, I warmed chicken stock for a pot of soup. I whisked together eggs with fresh lemon juice and, in the style of Avgolemono, tempered them with hot stock, whisking it back into the pot. I added lots of spinach – a common addition to many American recipes for Straccietella – and shredded chicken. Orzo pasta finished the pot creating a soup with the hearty comfort of winter’s chicken noodle that tastes light enough for the first warm days of spring.

I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s delicious. And perfect for the snowy weekend ahead.

Avgolemono, sort of


  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bone in, skin on chicken breast halves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 6 parsley stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups spinach roughly chopped
  • white pepper
  • 1 minced shallot


  • In a 4 quart soup pot, combine stock, chicken breast halves, thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low, cooking partially covered for 20-25 minutes. Remove chicken and herbs, reserving stock in pot.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and season generously with salt. Cook orzo until slightly firmer than al dente, and drain.
  • Remove skin and bones from cooked chicken, and shred meat.
  • Whisk together eggs and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of warm stock. If the stock is too hot it will scramble the eggs. The broth should be come cloudy.
  • While whisking the stock, slowly add the egg mixture to the soup pot. Add the cooked orzo and chicken to the pot along with the spinach. Warm the soup over medium heat, never letting it come above a simmer. Cook 5-10 minutes until spinach is fully wilted.
  • Season soup to taste with salt, white pepper and additional lemon juice if desired. Serve garnished with minced shallot.

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