I was recently asked what my favorite comfort food was and it didn’t take me long to decide on soup. I have no real favorite, although I’m fond of Cream of Wild Mushroom and Lazy Pea Soup with Mint & Crème Fraîche; any bowl of delicious soup will do the trick. This lemony chicken soup is my take on the soups I enjoyed so much in Greece & Albania.
I have this habit of ordering soup at restaurants, especially when I’m traveling abroad. My fiancé teases me about it, mostly when it’s unpractical like in 32C/90F heat. The truth is I love learning about different cultures, regions, countries & their traditions by tasting their soups. I think you can learn a lot about a cook by what kind of soup they are proud to make. It often doesn’t change much over the years and usually tells some sort of story.
One memory in particular stands out for me. Rez & I were vacationing in Albania, where my fiancé spent his childhood. We were at the start of a road trip down south and were staying the night in this remote village in the mountains, called Kaninë. The village had only one small restaurant/bar which we were escorted to by our sweet host Jimmy. This restaurant had no name, no menu and one of the best soups I’ve tasted in my life (also with no name).
Everything served in the restaurant was grown, raised and harvested on their property (rakia and wine included). You quite literally could taste Albania in a bowl! There is nothing more authentic than that. Some people collect magnets or shot glasses from their travels, I happen to collect memories & stories of the soups I’ve tasted.
Its easy make something wonderful when you have deep pockets and access to the latest & greatest ingredients of the moment. What really makes an outstanding cook is someone who creates something extraordinary with limited resources and whatever ingredients they have. The best cooks can make something out of nothing. I’ve learned that outstanding food doesn’t have to be expensive.
This Speedy Greek Style Chicken & Lemon Soup is a constant when I’m starting to feel sick. It’s quick, easy and you can make a big batch so you don’t starve when your cold/flu hits full force. I think it’s really important to use fresh herbs in this recipe because dill and parsley are both delicate herbs and their dried counterparts don’t have much taste. Lemon is a stand out in this soup for sure and I like to add a little extra lemon zest or minced preserved lemon to really amp up the flavor.
T’bëftë mirë! Albanian
- 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 heaping cup shredded rotisserie chicken
- ⅓ cup uncooked long grain basmati rice
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup carrot, diced
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice and add more to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1tsp freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup fresh dill
- ½ cup flat leaf Italian parsley
- serve with lemon wedges and fresh herbs
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 6 minutes.
- Add the carrot + celery and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the bay leaves + chicken stock + rice, switch to high heat and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is almost cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Add the chicken and reduce the broth to a low simmer.
- In a medium sized bowl, beat the lemon juice, eggs, and pepper together.
- Ladle 2 cups of hot broth into a measuring cup with a pourable spout. While whisking, slowly pour the 2 cups of broth into the egg mixture.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the pot with 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir well to blend. Add fresh dill and parsley and give a quick stir.
- Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs and/or lemon wedge.
I really like a ton of lemon in my soup so I add more lemon juice. I sometimes add ½ cup instead of ¼ cup. Taste as you go so you don't add too much!
Sometimes I add 1 tsp of lemon zest of preserved lemon rinds to amp up the lemon flavor.