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!


Rick’s Summer Tabbouleh Salad

TabboulehI had never had tabbouleh until I met my wife’s family in my early twenties.  It was a staple of their summer picnics and I loved it. I seldom make it, as I was reminded yesterday by my unopened Bob’s Red Mill Bulgur with a 2012 sell-by date. A quick trip to Guido’s for new bulgur and I was ready. We had friends over for a Mediterranean dinner last night. We started with pita, hummus, feta and mixed olives, some nice Rose from Provence. Then I made grilled marinated butterflied leg of lamb and grilled veggies with the tabbouleh. Summer dining on the back porch at its best! Continue reading

Rick’s Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Since so many of you liked my humble Chicken Noodle Casserole here’s another oldie but goodie comfort food recipe. If you have the time (and who doesn’t these days) make your best meat sauce. Or, as per this recipe, brown some ground beef and/or Italian sausage, put it in some good jarred sauce, add some cheese, and Roberto is your uncle. Continue reading

Rick’s Pandemic Chicken Noodle Casserole

Since Price Chopper cancelled my pick-up order, I have turned to my pantry to feed the six of us (a couple of my grandchildren and their parents are quarantining with us.) You know those cans of chicken breast you bought at Costco or BJ’s in case you wanted to make chicken salad or there was a pandemic, now is their time to shine. Continue reading

Seared Sea Scallops with Pepper Garlic Saffron Linguini

This is really one of those “no recipe” recipes that you throw together and comes out great. The better the sea scallops, the better the result, so I recommend “dry” (also known as “diver”) scallops, although I have to admit I’ve had pretty good results with frozen wild-caught American sea scallops. (Yes, I know all scallops come from the sea, but “sea scallops” are the big ones to differentiate them from the smaller “bay scallops” or the the even smaller “calico scallops.”) Continue reading

Rick’s Nearly Indian Black-Eyed Peas with Mushrooms

In our house we love mushrooms, and there were some beautiful white button mushrooms in the market this week. Many years ago, when our kids were little, this dish was in regular rotation. I got the original recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, the first Indian cookbook I owned and still a good one. She called this dish Lobhia aur khumbi and back then I followed her directions slavishly, soaking and cooking the black-eyed peas and using fresh tomatoes. Lately, I’ve been using canned black-eyed peas and canned diced tomatoes and it is still pretty darn good, and it is low-fat and vegetarian for those of you who like that sort of thing. Continue reading

Rick’s Nearly Moroccan Beef Tagine

I don’t own a tagine (the vessel) but you can make a very good facsimile of a tagine (the dish) in a Dutch oven, which is the way I have done it here. For authenticity this would typically be lamb, but I had a nice chuck roast and, as you know, good home cooking is all about innovation and flexibility so beef it was tonight. Don’t be scared of making this, it is basically a pot roast. I know you can do it. You can make it hot by adding cayenne pepper, but be prudent. Continue reading