"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Frugal Winter Fare (i.e., Leftovers)

Winter in my part of the world is not a lot of fun. We rarely get snow, and when we do, it's usually the heavy, wet variety that is not much of a pleasure. Winter mostly means month after month of short dark days filled with stinging rain or sleet, combined with high winds that chill one to the bone as one is trudging through the semi-frozen mud to feed the animals twice a day, and brief, infrequent glimpses of the sun between thick, ominous grey clouds.

I know. Yes, I have anti-depressants, thanks for asking.

But there are some comforts, and chief among them (in my mind) is soup. I am a true soup lover and a great soup cook. I can whip up a terrific, heart-warming bowl of soup from just about anything I can scrounge in the house, and that is no mean skill come February, let me tell you. I have many, many delicious soup recipes, and probably over the course of the winter some of them will crop up here.

Today I am going to make avgolemono soup. Those of you who know it just went "oooooooo." Avgolemono is Greek for "egg and lemon sauce" and those lucky Greeks, with their mediterranean climate and abundant citrus trees put it on just about anything. Avgolemono is a pale but sunny yellow (brighter if you use farm eggs, like me) and rich and tangy. It brightens up scores of dishes and turns plain old chicken soup into something transcendent.

Yesterday I roasted a chicken. It was a big fat chicken and I have quite a bit of it left over. I happened to season that chicken with onion, garlic, rosemary, and black pepper, and that works fine for Avgolemono soup. Most European seasonings would - or Latin, like chile and lime - but I'm not sure I would try Avgolemono soup with a leftover chicken that was flavored with Chinese spices or Indian spices.

Anyway, take your chicken carcass and pop it in a stockpot. Cover with fresh water and simmer until the flesh is parting company with the bone. Remove carcass (with a slotted spoon) and remove as much meat as possible from the bones. Use your slotted spoon to scoop up any meat that left in the stockpot. Dispose of bones however you usually do and set aside meat.

Meanwhile, In a nicely sized soup kettle, gently sauté a small yellow onion, one or two carrots and one or two ribs of celery, all chopped fairly fine. These are my go-to veggies, and I think these three are indispensable, but that doesn't mean you couldn't add others. Cubed potato would make a hearty soup. Golden beets? I love kale or collards in this soup. Slice into ribbons and add with the rest. Soft greens like spinach or chard would be delicious but should be added later. Also, make some white rice, unless you have some leftover white rice, which today I do.

When veggies are fork-tender, add meat, stock, and cooked rice (if you didn't have any cooked rice you could add raw white rice and let simmer longer. In this case, don't saute the veggies as long), reserving one cup of hot stock. In a bowl, whisk three eggs and the juice of three lemons (two if big and juicy) until smooth and all one pale yellow color. SLOWLY whisk in the cup of hot stock. Then pour the contents of the bowl into the soup, stirring the whole time. The soup will thicken slightly.

Add plenty of fresh ground black pepper, shower with fresh chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

This soup will thicken like oatmeal as it cools. To reheat and eat later, add more stock or water.


DiElla said...


Maven said...

Sometimes I even make my avgolemono thick with a puree of yellow peas/split channa dal and a little turmeric to really brighten up the yellow color. If you add chile to it, be sure to add some cilantro sprigs, and you'll have a really cool Indo-Greek avgolemono. Tasty stuff. Nice and tangy:)

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