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 fresh 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.
What makes this soup so good?
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 to 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.
More easy soup recipes
As the weather gets cooler and we start the slow run-up to winter, soups and stews become the mainstay of my kitchen.
For you lucky people in the Southern Hemisphere, it is just the season for Minestrone Primavera – Spring Soup. Happy cooking! xJ
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.
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 Recipe
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
for the poached chicken:
- 1.25 kg whole chicken
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, cut into quarters
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp sea salt, or kosher salt
- 1 tsp peppercorns
for the soup:
- 150 g orzo
- 4 eggs
- 60 ml lemon juice
- ½ tsp white sugar
- 1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves chopped
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped
- 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.
- COOL AND 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- SEASON AND SERVE: Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread.
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