Maverick Life


Avgolemono Chicken Soup: A great big bowl of unconditional love

Avgolemono Chicken Soup: A great big bowl of unconditional love
Louise Haggar/Composite: The Reading List

A comforting Avgolemono Chicken Soup recipe from ‘There’s No Taste Like Home’ which is the first book by ‘Celebrity MasterChef’ winner John Partridge.

This recipe comes from my father-in-law, George. My relationship with George didn’t exactly get off to the best start. I’d been dating Jon for only about three months when he went back home to Canada for his sister’s wedding and decided to upstage the bride by coming out at her nuptials. Sort of. In fact, it was Jon’s little sister, Jackie who dropped the bomb while driving back from the airport after dropping him off to fly back to Europe. “So, what about Jon having a boyfriend?” To which George nearly crashed the car.  So it took a while for George to be won over by my winning smile and dashing looks. It actually took about five years for him to look me in the eye.

Fathers and sons. I never really had that sort of relationship with my dad. I never had the chance. Even though George and I didn’t get on, I knew he loved his son. I knew how difficult it was for him and that he wasn’t comfortable with me or his son’s choices, but he loved him and was prepared to put that first. Something I know my father had done for me. On our wedding day, seven years later, George gave the “father of the bride” speech and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It made me wonder what my dad would have said. Would he have been able to speak so openly? So lovingly? I’d like to think so, because both men loved their sons. Both men put their son’s feelings above their own. Unconditional love – that’s the recipe.

Whenever I feel under the weather, Jon makes me this soup. It’s gentle and comforting. It’s a great big bowl of unconditional love.

Avgolemono Chicken Soup

Serves 4
Cooking time 1 hour 40 minutes, plus 30 minutes cooling

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 185g (61/2oz) white long-grain rice
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1¹/₂ tbsp salt
  • very generous grinding of pepper, fresh oregano leaves, to serve


  1. Place the chicken in a large saucepan and fill with enough water to nearly cover. Bring to the boil and skim off some of the fat with a spoon, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1/4 hours.
  2. Remove the chicken and leave to cool. Skim the fat from the stock once again. Reserve 2 litres of the stock for the soup.
  3. Bring your reserved stock to the boil in the pan, stir in the rice and cook for 10–12 minutes. You want it to still have a bit of bite. Remove from the heat.
  4. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bird, discarding the skin, and shred.
  5. Whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl to stiff peaks.
  6. Add the stock and rice, a ladleful at a time, to the egg whites, whisking constantly – make sure you add the stock very slowly at first to avoid your whites splitting. Then whisk in the lemon juice.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together until creamy, then whisk them into the stock, rice and egg white mixture.
  8. Return your shredded chicken to the saucepan and then pour over the soup mixture. Season with the salt and pepper and then warm through slowly. Serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh oregano.

Time-saving hack and tip

Use a rotisserie chicken and store-bought stock if short on time. If you are making the stock and you have any left over, you can freeze it or it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week to use in another recipe. DM/ML

There’s No Taste Like Home by John Partridge is published by Mitchell Beazley, R475. Visit The Reading List for South African book news – including recipes! – daily.


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