Monday, January 14, 2013

Avgolemono with Spinach and Quinoa (Greek Chicken and Lemon Soup)

In the middle of January I always crave summer.  Usually that comes in the form of a soup like Avgolemono, a classic Greek soup made with Chicken, lemon and eggs.  It tastes like sunshine.

Traditionally avgolemono is made using rice, but I prefer to substitute quinoa.  Quinoa (keen-wah) is a South American seed crop that when cooked tastes similar to couscous.  The Incas thrived on it for centuries and a quick look at the nutritional profile of quinoa will tell you why it is considered a superfood.  Eat one cup of quinoa (a single serving size), and you’ll consume:
  • 220 calories (70 percent carbs, 15 percent fat, 15 percent protein)
  • 40 grams of carbohydrates (13 percent daily value)
  • 8 grams of protein (16 percent of daily value)
  • 3.5 grams of fat (5 percent daily value with no saturated fat)
  • A glycemic load (blood sugar spike) of only 18 out of 250
  • 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of daily value)
  • 20 percent of daily value of folate (various forms of Vitamin B)
  • 30 percent of magnesium daily value (beneficial for people with migraine headaches); 28 percent daily value of phosphorous; iron (15 percent); copper (18 percent); and manganese (almost 60 percent) The Mother Nature Network
And as if that wasn't enough nutrition for you I like to add spinach to my avgolemono.  I love the way the earthy flavor of the spinach contrasts with the bright sunny flavor of the lemon and hearty chunks of chicken. Happiness in a bowl!

Do take the time to follow my instructions for making your own chicken stock for this soup, the difference is incredible.  While the recipe calls for using 10 cups of stock, you will probably have that much leftover.  Simply freeze it until you make your next batch of soup!

Avgolemono with Spinach and Quinoa
serves 8-10

Chicken Stock
1 3lb rotisserie chicken.
2 stalks celery
2 medium carrots, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
cold water

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbsp dried oregano
10 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp salt
reserved meat from rotisserie chicken, diced
2/3 cup quinoa
2 eggs
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 16 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess water .
salt and pepper to taste

Remove all the meat from the chicken and reserve. Place the bones, skin, cartilage and remaining chicken carcass along with any drippings in a large stock pot.  Add cold water until the chicken is covered by about 3 inches of water.  Add celery stalks, carrots and bay leaves and heat over high heat until the stock just comes to a rolling simmer, do not bring to a boil.  Cover pot with a lid and reduce heat to medium to maintain a steady slow simmer and cook for 3 hours. Strain stock through a colander.

In a large soup pot heat olive oil and then add chopped onion and cook over medium high heat until onion is just translucent.  Add garlic and oregano and cook with stirring for an additional 2 minutes.  Add stock, salt and reserved chicken meat and quinoa cook for 30 minutes over medium heat until the quinoa is tender.

In a small bowl combine eggs and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.  Pour egg mixture into soup in a thin stream while gently stirring the stock.  The egg will cook in the hot stock.  Add spinach  and cook until heated through.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

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