Cider Pairing: Ploughman Stark & Avgolemono Soup

It's cold and and dreary in Pittsburgh, a full month before we want fall weather to hit. We're going on about our 28th straight hour of rain, with no real end in sight. So today, Mike called an audible (appropriately on the first day of what looks to be a cold and dreary season for our Pittsburgh Steelers) and swapped out the menu for dinner from the ho-hum chicken parm to something warm and comforting: avgolemono soup.


If you don't frequent Greek restaurants or your local Greek Orthodox church's annual food festival*, you might not be familiar with this take on chicken soup. If that's the case, it's time avgolemono becomes part of your culinary repertoire.

"Avgo" in Greek means egg, and the tempered eggs in this soup lend a thickness to homemade stock. "Lemono," not surprisingly, is lemon. Depending on how heavy your hand is with the lemon, this might bring a background acidic hum or a full-on citrus pucker. We stayed pretty staid, not wanting to overwhelm the cider we chose to go along with the soup. Taken together, the egg and lemon create a soup that takes the chicken soup of your childhood sick days and winter nights and elevates into something you'll want to enjoy as a grownup. With the addition of orzo or rice, it's almost thick enough to stand your spoon up in. Just what we needed on this miserable day.

Well, that and some cider. We knew we wanted something dry, perhaps with citrus notes, to play off the flavors and textures of the soup. Ploughman's Stark's label suggests citrusy that's what we chilled.

While we didn't find those matching citrus notes in our tasting, Stark's dryness was a perfect foil for the silky soup. Lots of carbonation here, which amplified the creaminess in the bowl. The lemon's tartness ensured the forward funk (wet leaves) wasn't overwhelming, and the cider's bitter finish contrasted the slight sweetness of the broth, loaded with carrot and onion.

The day outside will be ending with more rain and dropping temperatures, but here inside, we're warm with bellies full of Greek soup and dry cider.


* Pro tip: Check out all of your local Orthodox churches for food festivals. The first-, second, and third-generation members of these parishes love introducing the food from their homelands to American palates. We're talking Greek, Russian, Serbian, Syrian, Romanian, Bulgarian.