On a recent trip for lunch at Kipos in Chapel Hill, my husband and I had the daily special soup, described by our waiter as “chicken and lemon soup,” or avgolemono. It was absolutely delicious, thick with chicken and rice, and we’d love to have the recipe if owner Giorgios Bakatsias or his chef will release it.
Longtime Triangle restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias was happy to share the recipe for this classic Greek soup: a chicken and rice soup elevated by the addition of lemon and egg.
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Growing up in the Greek village of Karitsa, Bakatsias explained that his mother would select a chicken from their flock to make the avgolemono. Once killed, trimmed and plucked, the whole chicken would be placed in a pot to simmer. The aroma of chicken broth, he said, was so soothing to the soul.
“I love the time my mother asked my assistance in making this perfect marriage of chicken broth, lemon and eggs – truly divine,” Bakatsias wrote in an email. “I was pouring the broth into the bowl (while) my mother was whisking the eggs.”
The chicken soup is offered every day at the Chapel Hill restaurant, and manager Katie Ozturk says, “It is the only soup that will cure any sickness.”
Bakastias’ Giorgios Hospitality Group has 11 restaurants in North Carolina, including Vin Rouge and Parizade in Durham, City Kitchen and Bin Fifty Four in Chapel Hill and Gatehouse Tavern in Wake Forest.
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Kipos Greek Taverna
431 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill
From Giorgios Bakatsias of Kipos Greek Taverna in Chapel Hill.
1 (about 5-pound) chicken
2 stalks celery, cut into half
1 carrot, cut in half
1 onion, cut in quarters
3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 cup arborio rice
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Italian parsley, stems removed, leaves chopped
REMOVE giblets, neck and liver from inside chicken. Wash chicken well with cold water. Place in a large stock pot or Dutch oven and cover with water.
ADD celery, carrot, onion and black peppercorns. Simmer gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the chicken is fully cooked and falling off the bones.
USE a slotted spoon to remove chicken and vegetables to a platter.
ADD rice to broth and cook for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender.
WHISK egg yolks in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in two cups of warm broth. Place egg whites in the food processor and pulse for 30 seconds until frothy. Add lemon juice to egg whites and then whisk into yolks. Then whisk egg/broth mixture into broth in stockpot or Dutch oven.
WHEN cool enough to handle, remove chicken from bones, pull part and add to the broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add Italian parsley and serve.
Yield: 12 servings.