Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

Susan S. Johnson

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Avgolemono is a popular and traditional Greek lemon chicken soup that features a delightfully smooth, silky, and creamy texture without any use of cream.  You can use your choice of pasta or rice, chicken breast or rotisserie chicken, with equally delicious results.   It’s quick and easy to make and is Greek comfort food at its best!

avgolemono recipe greek lemon chicken soup orzo rice egg yolks traditional authentic

Avgolemono is a traditional Greek chicken soup made that features a silken smooth broth made with egg yolk and lemon juice.  Avgolemono is commonly made with either rice or orzo, or other pastina (tiny pasta).  Both are traditional.

Where Did Avgolemono Originate?

And though most commonly associated with Greek cuisine, Avgolemono is actually of Sephardic Jewish origin.  Known as Agristada, it was made by Jews in Iberia before their expulsion from Spain and the acidic component of choice at that time was either pomegranate juice, bitter orange, or verjuice.

Though the soup itself is called avgolemono, the name actually refers to a family of sauces that are made with egg yolk and lemon juice and is found in Greek, Sephardic Jewish, Jewish-Italian, Turkish, Arab, and Balkan cuisine.  The egg yolk and lemon juice are mixed with broth and heated until thickened.  It can be eaten as a stand-alone sauce for dipping roasted vegetables and meats, as a sauce for pasta, or incorporated into other dishes, as in the case of this avgolemono soup, as a thickener.  Further, the starch from the orzo or rice helps stabilize the emulsion, creating a wonderfully smooth and silky texture.

avgolemono recipe greek lemon chicken soup orzo rice egg yolks traditional authentic

Avgolemono is a simple soup to make.  The only thing you need to watch out for is that the egg yolks don’t curdle, which is something that will happen if you add them straight into hot liquid.  Follow the steps outlined in the recipe and you’ll be able to prevent that.  Should you still experience the egg-lemon sauce breaking or the egg yolks curdling, transfer the broth into a blender and blend until smooth.  This quick fix will work as long as your mishap isn’t too extreme.

A word about lemon.  Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a key player in this soup but just how much to use is up to personal discretion.  You may prefer a light lemon flavor whereas others can’t get enough of it.  Adjust the amount of lemon you use accordingly.  And you can always have some lemon juice at the table for those who want extra.

avgolemono recipe greek lemon chicken soup orzo rice egg yolks traditional authentic

Can You Reheat Avgolemono?

It’s not recommended because of the very real possibility of the eggs separating or curdling.  But if you do reheat it be sure to do so very slowly and gently.  The eggs will curdle if heated too much so when reheating (either in the microwave or on the stovetop) do so just to where it’s just warm enough to eat, and above all do not let the soup boil.  Should the egg mixture separate, give the soup a good stir before serving.

Avgolemono will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

avgolemono recipe greek lemon chicken soup orzo rice egg yolks traditional authentic

The ingredients in this soup are few and simple.  As such it is essential to use the highest quality ingredients.  Use good chicken.  Use fresh lemon juice, not the bottled stuff.  And use a high quality chicken broth.  If you’re not using homemade chicken broth the best store-bought broth on the market in our opinion is ANETO.

Based just outside of Barcelona, Spain, while ANETO is a store-bought broth, what sets them apart is that they make it like you would in your own kitchen using the freshest chicken and freshest vegetables.  No additives, powders, extracts, preservatives or flavor enhancers.  Just pure, natural and non-GMO ingredients.  The only difference is that instead of a normal-sized stock pot they use gigantic stock pots.  We toured their factory a few years ago and watched the entire process from start to finish – beginning with the vegetables being washed, everything being added to the giant stock pots, tasting the slow-simmered finished broth, and watching the broth being packaged and boxed.  It was incredibly inspirational!

aneto broth review

Avgolemono Recipe

Let’s get started!

A note about the EGGS:  Avgolemono is commonly made with either just yolks or the whole egg.  When the whole egg is used it can either be beaten with the lemon juice or the egg white can be separated, beaten to a foam, and then mixed in with the egg yolks and lemon juice.  My preference is to use just the yolks but you are welcome to use the entire egg.

Place the chicken broth in a medium-sized stockpot and add the orzo and salt. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the orzo is soft.  

Whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in a bowl. Gradually add one ladle of warm soup to the eggs, whisking continually and vigorously to prevent curdling and until the mixture is smooth.  Add another ladle of soup, whisking continually. 

combining lemon juice and egg yolks

Gently whisk the egg mixture back into the soup.  Add the chicken and heat through.  DO NOT simmer or the eggs will curdle.  Just heat until warm enough to eat. Add salt to taste.

Garnish with slices of lemon and a sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper and chopped fresh dill. 

adding chicken and broth

Serve immediately.

Serve with some crusty bread and/or a salad.

avgolemono recipe greek lemon chicken soup orzo rice egg yolks traditional authentic

Enjoy!

avgolemono recipe greek lemon chicken soup orzo rice egg yolks traditional authentic

For more Greek and Greek-inspired dishes be sure to try our:

avgolemono recipe greek lemon chicken soup orzo rice egg yolks traditional authentic

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

Kimberly Killebrew

A traditional Greek lemon chicken soup that features a delightfully smooth and silky broth. It’s Greek comfort food at its best!

Print Recipe

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 16 mins

Total Time 27 mins

Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Soup

Cuisine Greek, Sephardic Jewish

Servings 4

Calories 270 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 2 cups shredded chicken breast or rotisserie chicken
  • 6 cups quality chicken broth (I use and recommend Aneto 100% All Natural Chicken Broth)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo or rice (I’m using orzo)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 medium sized lemons)
  • 3 large eggs , at room temperature
  • For garnish:
  • lemon slices, coarsely ground black pepper, chopped fresh dill

Instructions 

  • Place the chicken broth in a medium-sized stockpot and add the orzo and salt. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the orzo is soft.  Whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in a bowl.  Gradually add one ladle of warm soup to the eggs, whisking continually and vigorously to prevent curdling and until the mixture is smooth.  Add another ladle of soup, whisking continually.  Gently whisk the egg mixture back into the soup.  Add the chicken and heat through.  DO NOT simmer or the eggs will curdle.  Just heat until warm enough to eat. Add salt to taste.Serve immediately, garnished with slices of lemon and a sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper and chopped fresh dill.  Serve with a salad and/or some crusty bread.

Nutrition

Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 188mg | Sodium: 538mg | Potassium: 697mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 226IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg

Keyword Avgolemono, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

 

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