Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup) in bowls

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
573 Calories
29g Fat
15g Carbs
59g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 573
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 244mg 81%
Sodium 749mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 59g
Vitamin C 6mg 32%
Calcium 73mg 6%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 611mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Avgolemono chicken soup is perhaps the most iconic of all Greek soups. It is on the menu at nearly every Greek restaurant or diner, and you’ll find it as the first course at most Greek holiday celebrations. The inclusion of egg might seem unusual, but in this soup, egg acts as a thickener to this chicken soup with orzo, the egg acts as a thickener. Chicken tastes great with lemon, and the soup's taste is seriously brightened with the addition of lemon zest and juice. The taste is silky and creamy (and lemony), without the use of cream.

This avgolemono soup is also used as a sauce, too. It's often served as an accompaniment for grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat, or alongside roasted chicken.

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Ingredients

  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut into 6 parts, 2 each of whole legs, wings, and breasts, excess fat trimmed, and breast skin removed

  • 12 cups water

  • 2 large carrots, cut in half

  • 2 stalks celery, cut in half

  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut in half

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 5 whole black peppercorns

  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning, to taste

  • 1/2 cup dry orzo, or rice

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 2 lemons, strained of pulp

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for avgolemono (Greek lemon chicken soup) recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Add the chicken, water, carrots, celery stalks, onion, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and salt to a large stockpot. Bring to a rapid boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    Chicken, water, carrots, celery stalks, onion, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and salt in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a bowl and carefully strain the broth through a fine sieve into a separate large bowl. Return the strained broth to the stockpot and bring to a boil.

    Chicken broth in a pot on a burner, and chicken and vegetables in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the orzo and cook, uncovered, for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until tender.

    Chicken broth and orzo in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the egg-lemon mixture in a separate bowl. Using a whisk, beat the eggs until nice and frothy.

    Beaten eggs in a bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a steady stream while continuing to whisk.

    Lemon juice added to egg mixture in the bowl, with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. When the pasta has finished cooking, turn off the heat. Ladle about 2 cups of broth into a bowl or large measuring cup.

    Chicken broth in a pot and a measuring cup

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Slowly add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture while continuing to whisk. This will temper the eggs and prevent them from curdling once they are added to the hot broth.

    Chicken broth added to the egg mixture in the bowl with the whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Stir the egg-lemon mixture into the pot and heat over very low heat for approximately 5 to 10 minutes until heated through. Be careful not to boil the soup once the eggs have been added. Adjust your seasoning for salt and pepper.

    Egg mixture added to the broth in the pot on a burner, stirred with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Traditionally, this soup is served without the chicken meat or vegetables. You can add them back or serve on the side as you prefer. Garnish with dill and additional salt and pepper, if desired.

    Avgolemono (Greek lemon chicken soup) in a bowl with a spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Variation

This recipe can be made vegetarian if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken stock or broth. It won't have quite the same flavor, but it will work. Alternatively, you can use water.

Tip

If you like your soup very thick, you can add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in a bit of warm water to the broth before adding the egg-lemon mixture.

How to Store and Freeze Avgolemono

This avgolemono soup can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two to three days. Carefully reheat on medium-low, ensuring it doesn't come to a full boil. You can also freeze this soup for up to six months. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat gently, adding a bit of water if needed until completely hot.

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