Avgolemono Soup

5 from 8 votes

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This creamy Greek soup is creamy, lemony and chunky with chicken and orzo.

Spoon with a scoop of Avgolemono Soup.

Avgolemono is the lemony chicken soup of Greece, and as we know, pretty much every country has its version of chicken soup — this is the Greek one. It has a wonderful thick and silky texture and a bright lemony flavor, and the soup is studded with chicken and orzo or rice. It’s creamy from the addition of eggs — but amazingly, contains no dairy!

I chose orzo rather than rice for this avgolemono soup. Our family likes a lot of bang for their buck in a chunky soup, so there is chicken and orzo in every bite. This is really a meal in a bowl, though you might want to make a salad or vegetable to go with it, perhaps a Classic Greek Salad or Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

The key: just keep whisking as you add broth to the eggs. Once the mixture has thickened and emulsified, whisk the egg mixture back into the soup. Do not allow the soup to boil!

Avgolemono Soup in a small, handled bowl.

Ingredients

  • Onion – Creates a flavorful base for the soup. You could use any color of onion or try shallots in the same amount instead.
  • Chicken broth – I prefer to use less-sodium chicken broth to control the salt content in the soup. If you can use homemade broth or stock, you will have a wonderfully rich and deeply flavored soup. If making homemade broth is not your thing, canned or boxed broth will do fine.
  • Diced chicken – For this soup, I like to use chicken breasts, but you can use thighs instead. You can use leftover cooked chicken, but if you use raw chicken, it will enrich the flavor of the broth more. I’ve also made this with leftover Greek Roasted Chicken Thighs, and it was great.
  • Cooked orzo – Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta, and if you would rather use cooked rice as a substitute, you can!
  • Lemon juice – Please use fresh instead of jarred. Adding citrus makes the soup wonderfully bright and lemony!
  • Eggs – These thicken the soup (see How to Temper Eggs below) and need to be added slowly so they make the soup creamy and don’t separate.
  • Minced fresh dill or parsley – This is optional, but I love the way a bit of fresh herbs adds so much freshness to the soup when added at the end.
Ladle with a large scoop of Avgolemono Soup.

Variations

  • The fresh herbs are up to you. When I was researching avgolemono soup, I found recipes that called for herbs, no herbs, and herbs as a garnish. If you just have dried dill, add a tablespoon instead of the ¼ cup fresh. I’m not the biggest fan of dried parsley, so if you don’t have fresh herbs or dried dill, I might just skip it.
  • I also found recipes that didn’t have chicken in them, that had tons of lemon, only a little lemon, that used rice, that used lots of eggs, and hardly any eggs. Like any classic national recipe, there will be variations and strong opinions. Bring it, I say, bring it.

How to Temper Eggs for Avgolemono Soup

What you are doing in this recipe to create a thick and silky texture is tempering the egg mixture. If you were to add the egg mixture to the pot all at once, even if you whisked very fast, you would still end up with cooked strands of eggs punctuating the soup (in some soups, this is desirable — think about egg drop soup at a Chinese restaurant).

  1. Add the hot liquid in a slow, steady amount to the eggs. What you are doing here is tempering the egg mixture. The hot broth will blend into the eggs but the slow addition of the broth and the constant whisking keeps them from scrambling.
Tempering eggs for Avgolemono Soup
  1. Once that mixture has become thick, smooth, and warm, you can whisk it back into the soup, and it will simply thicken the whole pot of avgolemono.
Egg mixture being poured into a pan.

Tips

  • You should cook the orzo first; otherwise, it will absorb too much of the broth and also release its starch into the soup. The result will be a too-thick soup. Same with rice, if that’s what you’re using.
  • Make sure to add the hot liquid to the eggs in a slow steady stream, whisking all the while.
  • Cooking the chicken in the broth adds flavor to the chicken, and also enriches the broth.

How to Make Avgolemono Soup

  1. Sauté the onion: Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until slightly golden. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  2. Add the chicken and orzo: Keep the broth at a simmer on medium-low heat; add the diced chicken breasts. Cook the chicken most of the way through and then add in the cooked orzo.
  3. Temper the eggs: Beat the eggs together with the lemon juice. Working quickly, whisk the egg mixture while you drizzle in two ladlefuls of the hot broth from the pot. Continue whisking constantly as you transfer the hot egg-lemon mixture back to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Finish the soup: Simmer gently for a couple of minutes without allowing the soup to boil. Serve the avgolemono soup hot.
Bowl of Avgolemono Soup topped with dill.

FAQs

What is avgolemono soup?

Avgolemono is the Greek version of chicken soup. The unique Greek twist is the addition of lemon and the use of tempered eggs, which makes the soup ultra-creamy.

Is orzo rice?

Nope, orzo isn’t rice! This small grain-shaped substance is actually pasta. In fact, the pasta takes its name from the Italian word for “barley” and is purposefully shaped like barley grains.

What kind of broth should I use for soup?

If you have the time and energy to make homemade broth, this is one of those instances where you will taste the difference. Any time the broth is the star of the soup, rather than a supporting player to a lot of other ingredients, homemade broth can really make a difference.

What makes avgolemono creamy and thick?

Avgolemono is creamy without the addition of dairy, and that’s thanks to the thickening the eggs provide. The consistency is nicely lush, and then you have all of the chunks of chicken and tender orzo to make it feel very substantial.

Leftovers and Storage

Store leftover soup for up to 4 days in the fridge. To reheat avgolemono soup, simply gently warm it in a pot over low heat, stirring often until it is hot. Do not bring the soup to a boil, which could affect the texture by making it grainy and causing it to separate a bit.

What to Serve With Avgolemono Soup

Spoon with a scoop of Avgolemono Soup over a bowl.

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5 from 8 votes

Avgolemono Soup

This creamy Greek soup is creamy, lemony and chunky with chicken and orzo.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (diced; about 2 pounds)
  • 2 ½ cups cooked orzo
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup minced fresh dill or parsley (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until slightly golden. Add the broth, and turn the heat to high. Bring the broth to a simmer.
  • Lower the heat to medium, and keep the broth at a simmer. Add the diced chicken breasts. Cook for 5 minutes until the chicken is mostly cooked through. Add the cooked orzo.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, and then beat in the lemon juice. Working quickly, whisk the egg mixture while you drizzle in a ladleful of the hot broth from the pot (see the note on Tempering Eggs). Drizzle in another ladleful, whisking all the while, then transfer the hot egg-lemon mixture back to the pot, whisking constantly as you add it. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Simmer gently for a couple of minutes (do not allow it to come to a boil), then stir in the dill or parsley if using. Serve the avgolemono soup hot.

Notes

Tempering Eggs:
What you are doing here is tempering the egg mixture. If you were to add the egg mixture to the pot all at once, even if you whisked very fast, you would still end up with cooked strands of eggs punctuating the soup (in some soups, this is desirable – think about egg drop soup at a Chinese restaurant). Add the hot liquid in slow, steady amounts to the eggs., whisking constantly. The hot broth will blend into the eggs but the slow addition of the broth and the constant whisking keeps them from scrambling. Then, once that mixture has become thick, smooth, and warm, you can whisk it back into the soup and it will simply thicken the whole pot of avgolemono.
  • You should cook the orzo first; otherwise, it will absorb too much of the broth and also release its starch into the soup. The result will be a too-thick soup. Same with rice, if that’s what you’re using.
  • Make sure to add the hot liquid to the eggs in a slow steady stream, whisking all the while.
  • Cooking the chicken in the broth adds flavor to the chicken, and also enriches the broth.

Nutrition

Calories: 303kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 157mg, Sodium: 1279mg, Potassium: 678mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 332IU, Vitamin C: 34mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 3mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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2 Comments

  1. Bonnie Helene Duarte says:

    The soup sounds wonderful and I plan on making it this coming week. I love soup and different recipes. Thank you for the opportunity to share.

  2. Bonnie Helene Duarte says:

    I love all kinds of recipes. Soup realy does sound very good. I collect cookbooks and this. would make a great addition to the ones I have . I love chicken very much. I do slot of things dur
    ing the day so I sometimes try to make things in advance. I live in a senior apartment community. When I am able I share some food I cook. Thankyou very much. Fondly Bonnie Duarte.