Lemon Chicken & Rice Soup (often called by it’s Greek name of “Avgolemono”), is a huge tradition here in metro Detroit. No trip to a coney island (what you might just call a diner elsewhere in the country, but a bit different) is complete without this thick but light flavored, comforting soup.
The funny thing about this soup is that I didn’t like it the first time I tried it. In fact, I hated it. My husband I were on a date early in our relationship, and he ordered this soup and let me try a bite. I had a very negative reaction, and told him that I didn’t think lemon belonged in savory food. My, how times have changed.
I mean, what’s not to love about Lemon Chicken & Rice Soup? There’s chicken. There’s rice. There’s lemons. That’s basically it. There’s some egg in there, but it’s kind of hidden egg – used just as a thickener. How could I NOT like this soup when the first time tried it? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were at a pizza place. Why a pizza place was serving a Greek soup, I don’t know. Luckily, I’m on the right track now.
Let’s talk about another thing the Lori of 15 years ago would have hated – these Olive Tapenade Croutons. Basically, this soup was a nightmare for the young, food-naïve version of myself, but it’s all the current version of myself wants to eat lately.
I’ve just started appreciating olives in the last 3 years or so, and now I can’t get enough of them. To make these olives, I whipped up a quick homemade kalamata olive tapenade in my food processor. I dry-toasted some ciabatta bread cubes for a few minutes, then tossed them with the tapenade and continued toasting until the olive-coated croutons were nice and crisp.
I think I love this Lemon Chicken & Rice Soup recipe so much because it has great contrast – it’s sweet from the lemons and salty from the croutons, it’s thick and filling but still has a light flavor, the rice is soft and the toasted bread is crunchy. Grab a spoon!
For the Olive Tapanade Croutons:
- 1 clove Garlic, Peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup Pitted Kalamata Olive
- 3 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon Anchovy Paste
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Oregano
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 cups Cubed Ciabatta Bread, 1 1/2 inch cubes
For the Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup:
- 1 pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, Large, quartered
- 6 cups Chicken Broth
- 3/4 cup Long Grain White Rice
- 2 large Eggs
- 6 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Chives
- Make the Croutons: Preheat oven to 400°F. In bowl of food processor fitted with knife blade attachment, pulse garlic, olives, lemon juice, anchovy paste and oregano until olives are very finely chopped. While processor is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until all oil is combined.
- Place bread cubes on rimmed baking pan. Transfer to oven and bake 6 minutes.
- Dollop olive mixture onto bread cubes and toss until all bread is coated in olive mixture.
- Return to oven and bake 12 to 14 minutes or until croutons are very crisp, stirring once halfway through.
- Make the Soup: Place chicken and broth in large saucepot. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat.
- Stir in rice; cover and reduce heat to low.
- Cook 18 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender; remove from heat.
- Transfer chicken to cutting board; roughly chop or shred, then return chicken to pot.
- In small bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice. Slowly add egg mixture to soup; whisking constantly while adding egg mixture. Stir in pepper.
- Serve soup topped with chives and croutons.
Home Chef Tip: Most of the salt in this recipe comes from the saltiness that the olives add to the croutons. If you wish to serve this soup without the croutons, please season the soup to taste with kosher salt.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 728Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 197mgSodium: 2346mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 52g