With a little bit of a nip to the air today, our thoughts turn fondly to autumn: woolly sweaters, apple cider, and — oh god, yes — avgolemono soup. It’s hard for us to describe avgolemono to the uninitiated without starting to sound a little soft-core. Silky. Creamy. Rich. Smooth. Luscious. Tangy. Smooth. But oh man, the lengths we would go for a decent bowl!
Avgolemono is an egg-lemon soup (avgo = egg, lemono = lemon) from Greece, and it’s one of those dishes that is so devastatingly simple in its construction that it is epically easy to screw up. Three ingredients: chicken broth, egg yolk, and lemon juice. The key, of course, is to temper the egg so it doesn’t curdle in either the heat of the soup or the acidity of the lemon juice, and instead it just gets all thick and creamy (a similar principle to, say, a hollandaise sauce, to which this soup is not entirely dissimilar). You can add some orzo or rice or bits of the soup chicken to the bowl, but the essential avgolemono is just a rich, thick, bright yellow broth.
We’ve had it in various incarnations ever since the inception of our obsession: served with fanfare (it was practically whisked together tableside) at a white-tablecloth restaurant, and glopped out of a soup steamer at a roadside Greek diner. We’ll take either — heck, we’ll take both. There’s a universal deliciousness in the merging of lemon and chicken, and it all just goes over the top with the luxurious creaminess brought in by the egg yolk.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best avgolemono to be found in town is in the West Loop — we cast our vote for the bowls to be found at Venus and, a few blocks away, at Greek Corner, where it costs a truly underpriced $1.75 for a generous helping of that steaming nectar.
Downtown, check out a slightly fancier version at Amira in the NBC tower. And we would probably visit Andie’s even if they didn’t serve the soup, but the fact that they do (and do it well) gives us all the more reason to visit one of our favorite pan-Mediterranean places in the city — what do we need in life? A bowl of avgolemono, a plate of hummus, and thou.
[Photo: Avgolemono soup, via gto350’s Flickr]