Saturday, December 5, 2009

Avgolemono - Greek egg and lemon soup.... but without the egg

.... and without the chicken.

Honestly, most of the time I don't really miss eating meat much. But I would be lying if I told you that I didn't miss it at all. I grew up as an omni, after all. Back home, we are known for eating everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.

It's been rainy here in Kent, and the weather called for soup. Avgolemono (which literally translates to "egg-lemon") is one of those dishes that I miss. It's a comforting, hearty soup that somewhat reminds me of congee. Both of these soups are chicken-based.

But I was craving. The last time I had Avgolemono was years ago, when I was still eating chicken. Being the compulsive cook that I am, I had to figure out a vegetarian version. I had to have it. So in the middle of reading a research article for school, I decided to just give it a shot. I know how I am; once I have a kitchen project in mind, I can't concentrate on other things until I do it.

This was the result of my project: (Loved it!)

(I have to apologize, this isn't the best photo... the lighting in my apartment isn't the best)

olive oil for sauteeing
1/2 an onion, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 a leek, sliced thinly
1 small carrot, diced
1 quart no-chicken broth
2 cups of water
1/4-1/2 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup plain/unsweetened soymilk or other non-dairy milk
2 tbsp tapioca powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
juice and zest from l lemon (about a quarter cup of lemon juice, more or less)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp dried dill
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
good quality extra-virgin olive oil for swirling on top... just because I love EV olive oil, especially this one :)

Ingredient notes:
- You could probably just omit the shallots and the leeks, and just use onions...but I had them on hand.
- I don't think Avgolemono really calls for carrots... but I had one, so I used it anyway.
- You can use regular vegetable broth. I've never used the "no-chicken" broth because it was higher in sodium... but I thought I would give it a try in this recipe.
Nutritional yeast is available in the bulk section at Whole Foods or your local natural foods store.
You can also use cornstarch, instead of tapioca powder, but the latter is what I had on hand.

1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, and carrot and saute until soft.
2. Add the broth and water, then the rice. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmering. Allow the rice to cook, about 20-25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, warm the soymilk or non-dairy milk in the microwave. Whisk in the tapioca powder or cornstarch and the turmeric, then set aside.
4. When the rice is cooked, mix the soymilk and tapioca again (the powder tends to settle on the bottom), then stir into the soup to allow the soup to thicken.
5. Let the soup simmer, then add the lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper. Add the herbs, but set aside a little bit for garnishing in invididual bowls.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls, then swirl the EV olive oil and sprinkle more herbs on top.

Recipe adapted from this blog, but with my own tweaking :)

As a side note... I miss my mom's Hainanese Chicken Rice. Now THAT would be a vegetarian challenge.

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