My Mum’s Chicken, Lemon and Rice Soup for a Winter’s day

When I was young, my mum used to make us a lovely soup, fragrant with lemon and always teeming with rice. Sometimes, she added an egg, stirring the fresh raw egg into the hot soup to make Greek-style avgolemono. As this blog is about Maltese food, and those recipes inspired by the food my family and friends cook, this is an essential recipe to include.

I never waste roast chicken carcasses and often pop them in the freezer until I have enough to make a good, full-flavoured stock; as good chicken stock forms the base of the soup, just get out the carcasses or use some prepared stock for the rice step below. If you are making stock from scratch, just cover the carcass(s) with water and then leave to gently bubble away for about 2 hours, along with garlic, onion, a celery stick and fresh herbs from the garden, all of which help to add depth of flavour.

Once the stock is done, strain through a sieve, strip all the meat from the bones and set aside.

Add the juice of two lemons and a good helping of long grain rice to the hot stock. The soup is supposed to be thick with rice, but not risotto, so for 8 cups of liquid, about 3 cups of rice is about right. Add the shredded chicken, then adjust seasoning and serve steaming hot with chunky bread.

Its a great favourite in our house, with everyone wolfing down bowls of it with gusto. I like the continuity of generations and know my Mum would be smiling.

It’s easy to spice up, adding jalapeño or even some fresh salsa stirred through. Gorgeous though different to the original soup.

Looks a little more sophisticated with some lemon rind on the top when served.

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