It’s Greek to me! But oh, so good!

Have you ever had the Greek-style chicken soup, avgolemono? It’s not hard to prepare, and it turns out very creamy -- without any cream! The chemical reaction between the acid in the lemon juice and proteins in the egg yolk causes the proteins to coagulate, creating this white, creamy texture. The science is a bit more complicated, but that's the basic chemistry behind it. You will be asking for second helpings with this dish. This is truly a chicken soup for the soul.

Avgolemono Soup

Serves 6

8 c. water

3½ lb. whole chicken

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 medium potato, grated

½ c. rice

1 Tbsp. orzo

1 Tbsp. fine vermicelli, broken

Sauce

4 eggs, beaten

3 lemons, juiced

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. nutmeg

2 Tbsp. fresh mint (If you have dried mint, use 2 tsp. but add to the soup mixture and cook with the vegetables.)

Bring water to a boil and cook chicken for 1 hour. Remove chicken to cool and reduce heat. Add vegetables, rice, orzo and vermicelli to broth. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a blender blend the eggs while slowly adding the lemon juice, cornstarch and spices. Add 1 cup chicken broth, do not stop blending. The constant blending is the secret to prevent the eggs from curdling.

De-bone chicken and dice meat. Return diced chicken to the soup pot and pour sauce slowly into the soup. Whisk continuously over low heat (do not boil). Simmer 10 minutes longer.

Garnish with fresh mint.

We need a white wine on the lighter side for this soup.

Pair it with Brander’s 2016 au Naturel Sauvignon Blanc. Produced, as always, entirely from grapes grown on their estate, the 2016 au Naturel once again offers the gorgeous mouthfeel, compelling minerality, rich and balanced flavors and long-term ageability this cuvee is renowned for.

With notes of honeysuckle, Meyer lemon, and cantaloupe on the palate, this extraordinary wine (100% sauvignon blanc and produced 100% in stainless steel with 24 hours of skin contact for additional depth) finishes with grapefruit and hints of peach.

Or try Margerum’s 2016 Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is crafted from a blend of sauvignon blanc grapes grown on the rolling hills of the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA at McGinley Vineyard, Grassini Vineyard, Star Lane Vineyard and Happy Canyon Vineyard.

"The nose on this sleek bottling by Doug Margerum manages to combine both the grape's telltale grassy tones and tightly reductive qualities with fresh passion fruit and kiwi flavors. There is a great sizzle of acidity to the sip, where lime skin and white rock flavors shine." 89 points. -- Wine Enthusiast

Either of these wines would be a good match for the lemon base in this chicken soup.

Enjoy!

John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at sacredmeals@comcast.net.

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