Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. This month’s theme is Mediterranean Specialties hosted by Megan Myers of Stetted. You’ll love all the recipes from this progressive menu that will be perfect for any time you want to change things up and pretend you are basking in the sun on the Mediterranean Sea! Make sure you check out the links below the recipe.
This month I chose the soup course and made one of my all time favorites, Avgolemono. It is a rich yet light chicken-rice soup flavored with fresh lemon juice and thickened slightly with eggs. Incredibly delicious, it is like sipping on pure sunshine with the brightness of lemon bringing a delightful freshness, creating a whole new type of chicken soup.
When I think of Greece, I picture the brilliant white buildings surrounded by the bluest water imaginable. The motion of the ocean is always mesmerizing. This soup makes me long to be sitting high on a hill, sipping a glass of wine in anticipation of the incredible meal we can smell cooking, looking out at the perfect scene stretching to the horizon.
The blue and white colors on the Greek flag represent the deep blue seas that surround Greece with their white-topped waves. Home of the original ancient Olympics, this is a country with remarkable history and proud heritage. Thankfully no heroic efforts are required to make this soup! 😉
Avgolemono is truly remarkable. You start with a very simple chicken stock, then you mix together lemon juice and eggs. Whisking the lemon-egg mixture into the stock creates a rich, indulgent soup that tastes creamy without any dairy in it! Along with the amazing broth you’ve got big chunks of chicken and creamy rice. Mmmmm, so good!
This soup would be wonderful served with toasted crostini smeared with Greek feta, sprinkled with fresh oregano and a touch of fresh lemon zest. Adding a delightful crunch and the traditional flavors of Greece.
If you eat GF, use gluten-free bread to make your own crostini; trim the crusts and cut into rectangles or use a cookie cutter to cut out circles. Place on a baking sheet and toast at 300°F until golden brown, flip to cook the other side and remove from the oven when both sides are toasty. Let them cool completely before topping with the feta, oregano and lemon zest.
I chose Greek cuisine but look at this list of countries that border the Mediterranean – Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco plus a few more. Next time I think I’ll branch out a little more 😉
Enjoy this soup all year long and pair it with some of the other recipes listed below from all over the Mediterranean to create your own Progressive Dinner for New Year’s Eve!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
You can use either a whole chicken or cut up pieces. The pieces will cook faster so keep an eye on them. I use a whole chicken because they are cheaper and I’ve gotten used to breaking them down so it is easy for me.
Make sure the chicken you buy is as fresh as possible and hasn’t been injected with any brines that might contain gluten ingredients.
Kitchen Skill: Deboning a Chicken
Once a chicken is cooked, it is quite easy to separate the bones from the meat. Let it cool and do it by hand if you can, it is much easier to feel the bones and pull them out.
I set the chicken on a baking sheet and start by pulling the legs and thighs away from the body, then the wings and finally slip a thumb between one half of the breast and the center bone, pulling it away and easing it off the ribs. It usually comes off in a single large piece, perfect for slicing or cubing for a variety of uses.
When working with the legs, make sure the cartilage doesn’t get included with the meat and remove any tough tendons you find. If you roasted the chicken, you can use the bones and skin to make stock.
- 1 (3 lb) whole or cut-up chicken, on the bone, organic if possible
- 1 onion, trimmed, peeled and quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 2 carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into large chunks
- 2 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into large chunks
- 2/3 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
- 2 to 3 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon
- Ground white or black pepper, to taste
- Fresh chives or green herbs, for garnish
- Fresh lemon slices, for garnish
- Rinse the chicken pieces with cold water and place in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover by about 1-inch. If your chicken is so big you can’t cover it with water, fill your pot to about 1-inch below the rim, start the chicken breast down, and flip it half way through cooking. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer, skimming and discarding foam from the surface as needed.
- When the chicken is cooked through, 1 hour + a few minutes for a whole chicken, about 30 to 45 minutes for cut up pieces or when an instant read thermometer registers 160°F when inserted in the breast. Remove chicken from the broth and transfer to a sheet tray to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones. Cut into bite-sized cubes and set aside. Discard the bones, tendons, and skin.
- Add the onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, carrots, and celery to the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer about 30 minutes to infuse the flavors and concentrate the stock.
- Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the solids from the broth and discard. Stir the rice and salt into the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium-low and simmer until the rice is cooked al dente, about 30 minutes or according to package directions.
- Add the chicken meat to the broth to rewarm.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together. Slowly pour 2 cups of the chicken broth into the bowl, whisking continuously. This gently warms the eggs and so they don’t get scrambled when added to the hot liquid, a technique is called tempering.
- Once all the broth is added to the eggs, slowly whisk the egg mixture into the pot of soup until fully incorporated. Add more water if the stock has reduced too much, is too concentrated or salty. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Ladle into serving bowls, sprinkle the tops with chives and set a lemon slice on the side if the bowls have a wide lip or slide a split lemon slice on the edge of the bowls. Serve hot.
Create a New Tradition Today!
This recipe is part of our monthly progressive dinner party, Progressive Eats. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
- Spiced Chickpeas with Feta and Preserved Lemon from Healthy Delicious
- Greek Roasted Lemon Cauliflower and Potatoes with Feta Cheese from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Ricotta and Herb Stuffed Eggplant from Lana’s Cooking
- Vassilopitta (New Year Wish Cake) from girlichef
- Orange Chocolate Olive Oil Marble Cake from Life’s A Feast
This is another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
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