Avgolemono Soup Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Cook: 2-1/2 hours
Avgolemono soup is a classic Greek lemon chicken soup. Fortunately, it's harder to pronounce than it is to make!

Updated: Mar. 21, 2024

While avgolemono may be tricky to pronounce if you didn’t grow up eating traditional Greek food, the recipe itself isn’t too hard to prepare. A quintessential Greek dish, avgolemono soup turns kitchen staples into pure comfort food.

What is avgolemono soup?

Avgolemono soup (pronounced ah-vō-lemō-nō) is a classic Greek recipe that has been prepared with love by Yia-Yias and passed down for generations. As with most beloved family recipes, countless variations and adaptations of this recipe exist. However, classic avgolemono soup is, at its core, a simple Greek lemon chicken soup.

What sets this apart from other chicken soups is the addition of its namesake avgolemono sauce. Avgolemono, which literally translates to lemon-egg, is a silky, rich sauce made from lemons, eggs and warm chicken broth. The sauce functions as a thickening agent in many Greek dishes and is what gives avgolemono soup its distinct taste, color and consistency.

Avgolemono Soup Ingredients

  • Water
  • Chicken thighs and/or legs
  • White onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Bay leaves
  • Long-grain white rice
  • Egg white
  • Egg yolks
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh parsley, dill and oregano, for garnish (optional)
  • Additional fresh lemon zest, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the chicken broth

Prepare the chicken broth avgolemono soup recipeTMB Studio

In a large soup pot, combine the water, chicken, onion, carrots, celery and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 2 to 3 hours, skimming foam from the top, as needed, until a rich chicken broth forms.

Step 2: Remove chicken and vegetables

Vegetables in strainerTMB Studio

After 2 to 3 hours, discard the veggies and bay leaves and remove the chicken from the broth. Separate the chicken meat from the skin and bones, shred and set aside.

Step 3: Cook the rice

Putting uncooked rice in a pot for cookingTMB Studio

Remove 1 cup of broth from the stockpot and set aside. Then, bring the remaining broth back to a boil and add the rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook the rice until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: You may be tempted to skip rinsing your rice, but please, don’t. Rinsing the rice removes surface starch from individual grains, which can cause them to become gummy as they cook and clump together. For fluffy rice with a better texture, always rinse!

Step 4: Prepare the avgolemono

Prepare the avgolemono with eggs and lemonsTMB Studio

While the rice cooks, prepare the avgolemono. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks; it will take 2 to 3 minutes.

Then, add the egg yolks and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes until frothy. Slowly add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Then, temper the lemon-egg mixture by gradually adding the reserved cup of hot broth to the mixer in a slow, steady stream while whisking continuously. Continue to beat the mixture until well-blended; 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5: Add avgolemono to soup

Adding the mixture in pot with riceTMB Studio

Slowly transfer the avgolemono to the pot of broth and fully cooked rice on the stove. Stir to combine and then bring the soup to a simmer. Add salt and pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the soup thickens.

Step 6: Garnish

Shredding the chicken with forksTMB Studio

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a bit of the reserved shredded chicken, if desired. Garnish with fresh parsley, dill, oregano and lemon zest, and serve with crusty bread.

How to Store Avgolemono Soup

Checking the mixture with ladleTMB Studio

Leftovers of this soup can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days. For best results, cool down the soup to room temperature before storing.

Avgolemono soup can also be frozen effectively. Store in a freezer-safe, airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, let the soup thaw in the fridge overnight.

How to Reheat Avgolemono Soup

For best results, reheat avgolemono soup on the stovetop over medium-low heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally to avoid separation. If needed, add a bit of broth or water to the soup as it warms to thin it back to the desired consistency.

You can also reheat avgolemono soup in your microwave. Just keep in mind you’ll want to do it low and slow. Reduce the power of your microwave to 30 to 50% and heat in 1-minute increments, stirring after each to prevent separation. You may also need to add a few tablespoons of water or broth using this method to return the soup to the desired consistency.

Avgolemono Soup Tips

Avgolemono Soup served in bowls with bread on the sideTMB Studio

What kind of rice is used in avgolemono?

Traditional avgolemono soup typically calls for long-grain white rice. However, it’s not uncommon to see arborio rice (risotto rice) used in Greek lemon chicken soup recipes, too.

Can I use store-bought chicken broth?

You can save a lot of time by opting for a high-quality store-bought chicken broth rather than making your own. Simply pick up this recipe at Step 3 if using store-bought broth.

Traditional avgolemono doesn’t typically include pieces of chicken; however, many recipes suggest adding shredded pieces of chicken before serving. Grab a rotisserie chicken from your grocer’s deli section if you’re using store-bought broth.

Can I add other ingredients?

The beauty of Greek avgolemono lies in its simplicity. However, if you want to add some color and extra “bulk” to this soup, add 1/2 cup of finely diced sauteed onions, carrots and celery in Step 3.

How do you temper eggs in soup?

The trickiest part of making this recipe is tempering the eggs correctly so you end up with avgolemono soup and not Chinese egg drop soup. For best results, slowly and gently raise the temperature of the eggs when preparing the avgolemono.

To do this, gradually add a bit of the hot broth to the eggs and lemon in a slow stream while whisking constantly. This will ensure the egg mixture heats evenly and slowly enough to prevent it from curdling. Once the eggs are tempered properly, you’ll be able to successfully add the avgolemono to the hot broth and rice on your stovetop so the soup can thicken and finish cooking the eggs.

Watch how to Make Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemono Soup

Prep Time 20 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or chicken leg quarters
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into chunks
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup uncooked long grain rice, rinsed
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: Fresh parsley, dill and oregano

Directions

  1. Place the first 6 ingredients in a Dutch oven. Slowly bring to a boil; reduce heat until mixture is just at a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
  2. Remove chicken; let stand until cool enough to handle. Strain broth, discarding vegetables and bay leaves. Reserve 1 cup broth. Return remaining broth to a simmer. Add rice; simmer, covered, until tender, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add egg yolks and beat until frothy, 1-2 minutes. Slowly add lemon zest and juice; stir to combine. Gradually add reserved broth into egg mixture. Beat until well blended, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly pour egg mixture into rice mixture; stir to combine. Return soup to a simmer. Add salt and pepper; cook and stir, continuously, until soup thickens, 8-10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, remove meat from bones; discard bones. Shred chicken. Serve soup with shredded chicken and if desired fresh parsley, dill, oregano and additional lemon zest.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 392 calories, 22g fat (7g saturated fat), 245mg cholesterol, 701mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 34g protein.

While "avgolemono" may be tricky to pronounce if you didn’t grow up eating traditional Greek food, the recipe itself couldn’t be simpler. A quintessential Greek dish, this avgolemono soup is made using pantry staples and results in a meal that’s pure comfort food. —Lauren Habermehl, Pewaukee, Wisconsin