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.

Braised Beef Brisket

Brisket 1

Everybody has a brisket recipe, and they are all delicious. Some have exotic ingredients such as grape jelly, cranberry sauce, chili sauce, etc. Here’s mine; it is pretty basic. This is cold weather comfort food.


3 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 first-cut beef brisket (I used a grass-fed one) about 5 LBS

5 yellow onions, chopped

4 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces

4 stalks celery cut in 1 inch pieces

4 clove of garlic, smashed, peeled, and cut in half

½ tsp dried thyme

1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary

3 TBS chopped fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

1 cup red wine

1 cup beef stock or broth

½ cup of apple cider vinegar

1 14 OZ can of chopped tomatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wipe the brisket with paper towels, and generously salt and pepper it. In a large oven-proof lidded casserole heat oil over medium high heat and carefully brown brisket without burning until it is nicely browned. Remove meat and put it on a platter. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté, stirring regularly until they are browned.

Add the wine, stock, vinegar and tomatoes and the herbs.

Bring to a simmer, put the meat on top, cover tightly and put it in the oven for about 3 ½ to 4 hours, depending on the size of your meat (grass fed seems to need a bit more time in the braise.) Some recipes have you turn it or baste it. This seems like extra work to me. I check it once at the half-way mark to make sure there is enough liquid in it.

When it is tender take it out and let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes until it is cool enough to cut pieces across the grain. Better yet, put the whole thing in the fridge and serve it the next day or two.

The traditional way is to serve it with potato pancakes, which is mighty tasty, but some extra work.

I served these with fingerling potatoes and steamed green beans. A sturdy red wine (perhaps a Cote de Rhone or something from Spain) would not be out of place.

brisket 2


(Photos: R.L. Floyd)