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Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

A velvety and flavoursome soup that is pure comfort in a bowl. Greek Lemon Chicken Soup or Avgolemono is a stunning combination of chicken, lemon, orzo and herbs, thickened with whole eggs. Perfect for cool weather!

Cool and grey in Munich today, ideal for a big bowl of bright, velvety and delicious Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, or Avgolemono. This traditional recipe is so warm and comforting, with plenty of tender poached chicken and a zesty lift of lemon juice.

What is Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)?

Avgolemono (pronounced ah-vo-le-mo-no) is a type of sauce made from lemon and eggs which is originally attributed to Sephardic Jewish cuisine. It found its way into the Greek kitchen, where it lends its name to this tasty soup. A whole chicken is poached and shredded, while the stock is thickened with orzo or rice and egg then flavoured with fresh herbs like parsley and oregano. So good!

Do I really have to poach a whole chicken to make this soup?!

No, you can make a fast forward version of this recipe by combining rotisserie or pre-cooked chicken with a bought stock, but you will get the best, most flavoursome results from poaching your own chicken. While it might seem scary the first time, poaching a chicken is an essential kitchen skill and is super easy.

I’m scared of ending up with a big pot of watery scrambled eggs! How does this soup work?

The secret my friends is the art of tempering. Basically, a little hot chicken stock is beaten with the egg and lemon mixture before adding the whole lot back to the soup. This means that rather than scrambled eggs, you end up with an unctuous, velvety-textured soup. The addition of orzo or rice helps to seal the deal by binding everything together.

What should I serve with Lemon Chicken Soup?

This is a meal in itself, so I’d say all you need is a loaf of crusty bread and you are good to go. If you fancy, you could drizzle over a little Greek yoghurt or crumble over some tangy feta cheese.

As the weather gets cooler and we start the slow run-up to winter, soups and stews become the mainstay of my kitchen. If you’re feeling inspired, why not try my Turkish Red Lentil Soup, my Classic Hearty Chicken Stew or my Pork and Cider Stew? For you lucky people in the Southern Hemisphere, it is just the season for Minestrone Primavera – Spring Soup. Happy cooking! xJ


Greek Lemon Chicken Soup Avgolemono

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I can’t get orzo – is there a substitute?

Yes, you can use rice instead of orzo in this recipe. Rice takes longer to cook than orzo so after you add it simmer for 15 minutes. You may also find orzo hiding under one if its other names: Risoni (Italian) or Kritharaki (Greek)

Can I freeze/reheat Greek Lemon Chicken Soup?

You can, however, it has a tendency to split a little on reheating. Personally, I don’t mind this and it doesn’t affect the flavour, just something to bear in mind.

Can I make this soup vegetarian?

Yes, you can use vegetable stock instead and leave the chicken out, though I’d be more inclined to go with a real vegetarian soup like Pumpkin or Minestrone.


Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup is so deliciously smooth and creamy – with no cream! The trick is to temper the eggs for perfect texture.

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup Avgolemono

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A velvety and flavoursome soup that is pure comfort in a bowl. Greek Lemon Chicken Soup or Avgolemono is a stunning combination of chicken, lemon, orzo and herbs, thickened with whole eggs. Perfect for cool weather!

Ingredients

for the poached chicken:

  • 1.25kg whole chicken
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut into quarters
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt (kosher salt)
  • 1 tsp peppercorns

for the soup:

  • 150g orzo
  • 4 eggs
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Small bunch of fresh oregano, leaves chopped
  • Small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves chopped

Instructions

  1. POACH THE CHICKEN: Place the chicken in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven with the carrot, celery, leek, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper and cover with 2 litres (ca. 8 cups) of cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
  2. COOL & SHRED THE CHICKEN: When the chicken has cooked, remove it from the saucepan, allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes, then shred the meat from the bones. Discard the skin and bones and set the meat aside.
  3. STRAIN THE STOCK: Place a sieve over a large bowl and pour the chicken stock through. Discard the solids. Give the saucepan a quick rinse, then return 1.5 litres (6 cups) of the stock to the saucepan, stir through the orzo and simmer for 10 minutes until the orzo is cooked and tender.
  4. TEMPER THE EGGS: Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large, heatproof bowl and whisk well with the lemon juice. While whisking, drizzle in the reserved stock, whisking all the while. Stir in the sugar.
  5. ASSEMBLE THE SOUP: When the orzo is cooked, pour the egg and stock mixture into the pan, stirring constantly. Do not allow the mixture to boil, but heat until the soup thickens, 5-10 minutes (see note). Stir through the shredded chicken, oregano and parsley and remove from the heat.
  6. SEASON AND SERVE: Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread.

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Notes

NOTE: It’s often difficult to tell when something has ‘thickened’ in a recipe. In this case, the egg and lemon mixture will likely be foamy when you pour it into the pan, as you stir and the mixture thickens a little the foam will disappear and the soup is ready.

Australians! You use a larger tablespoon than all the rest of the world! One standard tablespoon is 15ml, however, in Australia it is 20ml. This makes a big difference when measuring salt, so in this recipe use 3 tsp instead.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 930Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 461mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 95g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food, architectural and landscape photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.
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