Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo (Avgolemono Soup)

Soup 2I had never had this soup until I started dating my wife nearly 50 years ago when I was introduced to it by her mom, who is a great cook. Her dad is the Greek, but her German mom cooked many Greek dishes. It became a favorite of mine, but I seldom see it on menus.

Years ago, I discovered a local pizzeria that made it and always ordered it. One day it was changed from “Avgolemono Soup” to “Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo.” In my neck of the woods almost all pizzerias are owned and operated by Greek Americans. I asked the owner why the name change? He said, “I couldn’t give it away as “Avgolemono Soup,” but the same soup is now popular.” Go figure.

Full disclosure: I could, but I don’t make this from scratch. The is definitly a leftover soup for me, and since I made Ina Garten’s amazing “Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken” this week I had some cooked chicken that already had a lemony flavor. This recipe serves two, but can be doubled.


2 TBS good olive oil (Greek, if you have it)

1 small carrot, peeled and chopped fine

1 small stalk of celery, peeled and chopped fine

1 scallion or shallot,  peeled and chopped fine

1 garlic glove, smashed and peeled

1 bay leave

1 pinch oregano

4 cups chicken stock or broth

2/3 cup orzo

1 cup cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

2 eggs

½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a pot and sauté the carrot, celery, and scallion for several minutes until they are limp but not brown. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to keep a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Raise heat and add the orzo, stirring until soup returns to a boil, simmer for 9 minutes or until the orzo is cooked to your liking.

Meanwhile, make the avgolemono by whisking together the eggs and the lemon juice in a medium bowl until they are frothy.

When the orzo is cooked add the chicken. Here’s the fun part. You have to temper the avgolemono or it will curdle. To do this place the bowl with the eggs next to the pot and  slowley ladle in two ladles of soup into the bowl while whisking continuously. Turn off the burner and stir the avgolemono back into the pot. Serve and enjoy!


Slow Cooker Chinese Short Ribs

Short ribspg

I’ve always loved braising in my Dutch Oven. Tough cuts of meat like brisket and short ribs become meltingly delicious when braised. When my children and grandchildren were with us during the pandemic, they brought their slow cooker and I was hooked. When they left and took it with them, I bought myself one like theirs, a Cuisinart 6 ½ quart that has a sauté function, so you can brown things before you start the slow part.

Lately, I make many of my meals in the slow cooker, and have been inspired by the wonderful recipes by Sarah DiGregorio on the NYT cooking site.

I love beef short ribs and have made them numerous times in both the Dutch Oven and the slow cooker.  I typically make them like a pot roast or brisket, but this recipe is a new way to make them with an Asian flavor palate.

The inspiration for this recipe was from Mark Bittmans’s “Slow Cooker Short Ribs With Chinese Flavors.” This is simplicity itself. You don’t brown the meat. You just throw it all in the slow cooker and let it get happy for 7 or 8 hours.

I’ve added a few of my own tweaks. I strain and thicken the sauce and toss in some steamed snow peas.


8 beef short ribs, about 3 pounds

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup brown sugar or honey

3 star anise

6 whole scallions, trimmed

1 3-inch piece cinnamon stick

5 nickel-size unpeeled slices of ginger

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

Cooked white rice for serving

A handful of snow peas, steamed

Chopped scallions for garnish


Combine all the ingredients, except the rice, snow peas and garnish, in the slow cooker. Cover and cook until meat is very tender and falling off the bone, 7 or 8 hours on Low. Remove the bones and put the meat on a platter.

Strain liquid and thicken with 2 teaspoon corn starch, whisked with Sesame oil and1 TBS water.  Pour liquid over the meat and add the snow peas. Serve over rice and sprinkle with chopped scallions.

My Top Ten Posts of 2022

Marsh sunsetOnce again, as the old year passes and the new year beckons, it has been my custom to look back at my most popular posts of the year. I started this blog back in 2009, and to my surprise, 2022 was its best year yet.  It had 81,415 views and 62,614 visitors.

I began it as a theology blog, but soon started posting recipes of dishes I made. In recent years I’ve posted the sermons from my occasional guest preaching, and recipes from my cooking. That dichotomy is represented in the top posts of the year; six of them are recipes, two are sermons I preached this year, one is a remembrance of a dear colleague, and one is a paper I gave for the 375th anniversary of the Westminster Confession. You might say I’m into feeding both body and soul.

 Here are the ten most popular posts from 2022:

“Building Bigger Barns” A Sermon on Luke 12:13-2

Rick’s Greek Moussaka

Rick’s Favorite Black Bean Salad

“Our Down to Earth God” A Sermon on John 1:1-18

Remembering Luther C. Pierce (1924-2021)

Reflections on the Legacy of the Westminster Confession of Faith

Rick’s Vietnamese Pork Chops

Rick’s Summer Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato Basil Sauce

Rick’s Cataplana Shellfish Stew

Rick’s Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Honey Sauce

And here are the ten all-time most popular posts, all but one of which are sermons:

Why did Jesus refer to Herod as “That fox” in Luke 13:32”?

“Distracted by Many Things” A Sermon on Luke 10:38-42

“Breaking chains, Opening Doors” A Sermon on Acts 16:16-34

“Pity the Nation” A Poem for our Time by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“The God Who Still Speaks” A Sermon on John 16:12-15

“Displaced Persons” A Sermon on Jeremiah 29: 1-14

“Of Fig Trees and Second Chances” A Sermon on Luke 13:6-9

“Rich Toward God” A Stewardship Sermon on Luke 12:13-21

“God Gives the Growth:” A Retirement Sermon

“Ask, Search, Knock” A Sermon on Luke 11:1-13

Just a reminder that this is an open-source free site, and you are free to share content with attribution. But remember “Thou shalt not steal!” I appreciate your support. Thanks for coming by and come again in 2023.

(Photo: R.L Floyd, 2022. The photo is of the marsh behind our house.)

“He Came to Earth that Winter Night” A Christmas Hymn


Christmas hymn

(I wrote this hymn in 2009. You are free to use it in public worship with attribution. To see other hymn of mine go here. The picture is from a concert I sang in with Berkshire Lyric Chorus on Friday, December 9, 2022 at St Mark’s Roman Catholic Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I’m second from right in the top row.)

 “He came to dwell among us” A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

St Joseph

Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25:

When I retired from active ministry in 2004, I recall thinking, “I’ll never preach an Easter or a Christmas sermon ever again.” And I wondered about Advent, which is my favorite season of the church year. Would I ever preach another Advent sermon? Turns out this year I’m preaching two. The first Sunday of Advent was really early. We’d hardly digested our Thanksgiving turkey when the first Sunday of Advent came along. Some of you know my daughter is a pastor in Rhode Island. We were going to be around anyway, so she said “Hey dad, could you preach for me and give me a Sunday off? So, I preached on the first Sunday of Advent, and here I am on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, because Brent (our pastor) asked me to preach. So I bookended this holy season, which makes me glad, because I love Advent.

Continue reading

Rick’s Cataplana Shellfish Stew

Cat 1

Years ago, friends of ours brought us back a cataplana from their trip to Portugal. A cataplana is both the name of the cooking vessel and the dish that is made in it. The vessel is a clam-shaped copper pot with a hinge.  If you don’t have a cataplana, you can use a sturdy pot or Dutch oven with a lid. The dish is a shellfish and pork stew. There are many versions. Here’s mine. Since my cataplana isn’t very big, this recipe is for two, or maybe four with enough good crusty bread and a salad. Continue reading

“In the Dark” A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Advent 1

When I retired from active ministry in 2004, I recall thinking, “I’ll never preach an Easter or a Christmas sermon ever again.” And I wondered about Advent, which is my favorite season of the church year. Would I ever preach another Advent sermon? Turns out this year I’m preaching two. One today, and my pastor in Stockbridge has asked me to fill in for him on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. So, I’ll will bookend this lovely season with my preaching, which makes me glad. Continue reading

Rick’s Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Hock


I like to make this when the weather gets cold. It’s cheap eats, but good! The ham hocks come in packages of three or four (also sold as “smoked pork hocks.”) The trick is to put them in individual freezer bags and freeze them, so you always have them on hand. You can defrost them in the microwave. This is an easy and delicious soup. Continue reading

Reflections on the Legacy of the Westminster Confession of Faith

(I delivered this paper on October 20, 2022 for a Webinar: Westminster Confession at 375: Historical Reflections and Contemporary Relevance. In commemoration of this important anniversary, the Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, and Dr Williams’s Library, London, brought scholars and theologians together to talk about the significance of the Westminster Confession: past, present, and future.) Continue reading