Monday, February 17, 2020

Pressure Cooker Chicken Lemon Avgolemono Soup


We've been eating a lot of soups this winter, as one does.  In particular, I've been using my InstantPot to prepare a lot of soup as it's quick, easy, and my glass cooktop stove has been shattered for several months and I haven't gotten around to dealing with that.  On top of this, someone in my family has joined Weight Watchers and I've been trying to consciously make "low points" meals where we can all feel full and satisfied.

One thing that's hard to do "low-points" is anything creamy.  The minute you reach for any fats, most dairy products, or thickening starches, you're adding a lot of WW points to the dish.  However, eggs are one of the "no points" items on the newer WW plans.  And this got me thinking.  I vaguely remembered a lemony Mediterranean chicken soup that is thickened with eggs instead of flour or cream.  You make a typical soup, but then you temper some eggs (bring them up to temperature so they won't scramble) with a couple ladlefuls of hot soup, then add the egg mixture to the pot of soup and return it to a simmer until it thickens-up.  It sounds complicated, but it really isn't.

So, this evening, I gave it a try.  I googled-up a basic recipe for avgolemono soup, which, in the Italian tradition, is typically made with lemon added to the broth, a meat or fish protein, and either rice or small pasta.  I merged the recipe with my standard Chicken and Rice Soup for the pressure cooker recipe and had myself a pretty delicious soup.

I'm looking forward to trying some variations that use the same thickening technique.  But in the meantime, I thought I'd share this simple and traditional version.  Enjoy!

Pressure Cooker Chicken Lemon Avgolemono Soup

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken, fresh or partially thawed
1/2 cup of white long-grain or jasmine rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
juice of two lemons, divided
2 cups (packed lightly) baby spinach or other chopped greens
salt and pepper
olive oil 

  1. With your pressure cooker in saute mode, coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and saute the minced onion with a pinch of salt until it begins to soften.
  2. Add the chicken broth, water, juice of one lemon, and rice.  Nestle the chicken pieces into the liquid.  The chicken can be partially or completely frozen as long as no single piece is larger than a chicken breast.
  3. Lid-up the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes (following the instructions for your particular pressure).  When the cooking cycle is complete, perform a quick pressure release.  Remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board and cool slightly.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining lemon juice, eggs, and egg yolks.  Whisk until it begins to become a little frothy.
  5. Take one ladleful of soup (avoiding rice and onion bits as best as you can) and stream it slowly into the egg mixture while whisking.  The objective here is to not plop hot liquid into the eggs and cause them to turn into scrambled eggs.  Repeat with 2-3 more ladelsful of broth.
  6. Pour the egg/soup mixture into the rest of the soup.  Using saute mode, bring the soup back up to a lightly bubbling simmer, stirring periodically until it thickens.  Turn off the burner and stir-in the spinach.
  7. Using two forks or your hands, shred the chicken pieces.  Add the shreds back to the soup.
  8. Taste the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
This soup would be great served with crusty bread, rustic toast, and a sprinkle of  good Parmesan cheese.


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