Lemon Chicken Soup, because sometimes recipes just lie to you


I had everything planned out for a chill evening, and making a pretty basic soup and sandwich dinner that my lady and I could have during the national championship game.  And I wanted to make Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, which was one that we both loved that the restaurant in our old work building used to make.

(we also used to love this restaurant because their specials board had some…interesting…ways to name their soups and specials)


(trust me, this was about the 37th worst spelling offense they committed)

Game time was 7:15.  Here’s the timeline of how the next few hours went:

4:00 – “Ok, take the dog out for a walk, then come back and start making the soup.  No problem.”

4:15 (while on walk) – “Crap, forgot to pick up my prescription at Walgreen’s, ok go get it now, still plenty of time to make the soup.”

4:30 – “Of course the 3 mile-long train decides that now would be a good time to run through the middle of Houston.”

4:45 – “What do you mean my insurance card has expired?!?!”

5:00 (home) – “Ok, no big deal, still plenty of time to make the soup, just dump everything in the pot and let’s get started.”

5:15 (grabbing Thermapen and taking the temperature of the broth) – “When the fuck is this thing going to start boiling??”

5:30 – “About fucking time!!”

Now that it’s finally reached a boiling point, I reduce it to a simmer for an hour, which is basically me turning the temperature down to a where the soup barely simmers, then turning the knob 1/300ths of an inch higher and then watching the water nearly boil over, then turning it back said 1/300ths of an inch, and repeating the process for the next 60 minutes.

6:30 (removing chicken and vegetables from the pot) – “Excellent, now I just reduce the broth by half, which will only take half an hour, because that’s what the recipe says and the recipe is NEVER EVER EVER WRONG!!”

I go off and relax for a bit, because I know that in 30 minutes the broth will be reduced by half and will be completely perfect.

So I go to check on the broth at 7:00, and it has barely reduced, and is practically mocking me and saying “Oh reeeeally, would you like me to reduce for you on command?  What am I, your little song and dance man, that exists merely to entertain you at your whim?  I DON’T THINK SO!!!”

(It’s after I typed that last quotation mark that I realized that I really do need my meds.)

7:15 -kickoff time, and the soup is still mocking me.

7:30 –

My lady: “Yeah, I think I’m just going to make a sandwich.”

Me (trying to distract from the soup inadequacy): “Hey, I was going to make a panini, would you like me to make you one, it’s far superior to a regular sandwich?!”

ML: “No, I’m good, I’m just hungry.”

7:45 – starting to get a little movement.

8:00 – “I hope the soup gets done soon so you can watch this game with me.”

8:15 – “Finally!”

By the time everything was finally done, I only missed the entire first quarter of the game. So, lesson learned: never make something new on game day.

You’re going to need a really big stock pot to make this, I would say at least 8 quarts.  You can probably go smaller if you can find a 3 pound chicken, as the recipe suggests, but good luck finding a non-broth injected non-steroid loaded 5 pound megabird.

Also, never salt your broth until it’s finished cooking.  Since it reduces down and concentrates in 30 minutes or 3 hours or whatever, a broth that is perfectly seasoned at the beginning is going to be way too salty when it’s finished.  Just chill out and let it go, and season everything at the end, and everyone will be happy…

…except for you, because you just spent half your day screaming at the pot to say COME ON ALREADY FINISH UP I GOT OTHER THINGS TO DO!!!


Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Makes six big bowls

From Bon Appetit



1 3 pound chicken

4 quarts water

1 large carrot, cut into large pieces

1 leek, white and pale green parts only, halved and washed

1/2 medium onion

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 large or 3 small lemons)

2/3 cup long-grained white rice



Bring chicken, water, carrot, leek, and onion to a simmer in a large stock pot.  Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 50-60 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a plate.  Discard the other solids.

Continue to cook the broth over medium heat until reduce to 2 quarts, which can take 30-60 minutes (get it down to 2 quarts regardless of time, you will be rewarded).

While the broth is reducing, remove the skin from the chicken, and shred dark meat into bite-sized pieces.  Save the breast for another use.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together until completely combined.

When the broth has reduced, ladle 1 cup of the broth into a cup.  While whisking constantly, add the broth to the bowl very slowly, to bring the eggs up to temperature.  If you go to fast, the eggs will scramble, so start with just a tablespoon at a time, and work up until it’s going in a steady stream.

Add the rice to the stock pot, and cook on medium for 10 minutes.  Add the chicken back to the broth, and heat through.

Whisking constantly, add the egg/broth mixture to the pot, again starting slowly and building up to a steady stream.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the soup thickens, about another 5 minutes.

One thought on “Lemon Chicken Soup, because sometimes recipes just lie to you

  1. Teresa

    This sounds really good! Sorry about your timing issues. We get the Miller Bros. (Amish) 3-ish lb fryers (vs roasters) – not sure if you have those in Houston.


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