Get my mother’s authentic recipe for this comforting and delicious Greek chicken-rice soup, avgolemono soup. Rice and chicken are enriched with the rich and creamy lemon-egg sauce.
I grew up with this delicious classic Greek chicken soup. Avgolemono which is pronounced av-g(w)o-le-mono means egg and lemon in Greek is a comforting soup is made with chicken broth, chicken, rice, carrots and then blended with this sublime avgolemono sauce, the result is a creamy and thick soup that contains no cream! This soup is deceptively light even though it appears so rich! The secret is in the sauce as they say.
This was a staple in our home in the winter, but also for holiday dinners like Christmas eve or Easter eve. It is great for those cold evenings or when you are feeling under the weather and just want something soothing that tastes good. You may have enjoyed this at your local Greek restaurant but believe me this homemade version takes it to another level.
This recipe comes from my mother. It is a family favorite. Using my step by step instructions you will master the authentic avgolemono recipe and make it like a pro.
What is Avgolemono Soup?
Avgolemono is a traditional Greek preparation/sauce that is made by blending lemon juice with eggs and warm broth resulting in a delicious creamy and frothy sauce. This preparation is added to chicken-rice soup resulting in avgolemono soup. But in traditional Greek cuisine it is also added to other dishes particularly pork dishes as well as stuffed vegetables.
Avgolemono Soup Ingredients
- Chicken: Use whole chicken pieces with skin and bones to make a delicious broth. If you do you use ready-made broth, at minimum add chicken meat from whole pieces of chicken, not boneless, skinless chicken.
- Rice: Rice should be a short or medium grain rice. Avoid using any aromatic rice such as basmati or jasmine, it will interfere with the flavors of this traditional soup.
- Vegetables: There are only 3 vegetables used in this soup: carrots and onion plus celery leaves. If you are unable to find celery leaves, just use some celery.
- Eggs: Use whole eggs at room temperature.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is key.
How do you make avgolemono soup?
See below my step by step instructions for making the best avgolemono soup:
1. Place the chicken in a large pot with celery leaves, 2-3 carrots, bay leaf and one whole onion. Add enough water (I measure how much water I add so that I can calculate how much rice to add later- I needed about 8 cups) to cover the chicken. Ideally the water should already be hot as it helps maintain the juices of the chicken. Simmer for about 1 ½ hour. Remove foam with a slotted spoon.
2. Once the chicken is cooked (chicken is ready when skin will easily come off and meat is tender), remove and place on a plate along with the vegetables, season with some salt and pepper. Discard the onion and celery leaves and keep the carrot. Leave broth in the pot.
3. Remove about 1 cup of broth, add the juice of 1 lemon and set aside.
4. Bring the rest of the broth to a simmer, add salt to taste, and add the rice. Add 1 to ½ tablespoons of short grain rice per 1 cup broth depending on how thick you want the soup. By adding more rice, you will have a thicker soup. Lower heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is done. Turn off heat.
6. Shred the chicken and slice the carrots. Place shredded chicken and carrots in the soup, cover and set aside. *You may leave the chicken and carrots on a plate and serve separately.
Make avgolemono sauce
1. Separate egg yolks and whites. In a small bowl add only the yolks and the juice of 1 lemon-do not mix and set aside.
2. In another large bowl add the whites, whip with a mixer until stiff peaks develop, add the yolks to the egg whites and mix on low until blended.
3. Now add the broth that you had set aside gradually to the egg mixture while mixing on very low-make sure broth is not hot otherwise it will cook the egg, it should be lukewarm. Add about 2 tablespoons at a time until you have used all the broth that you had set aside.
4. Add the egg lemon broth mixture back in the pot to the rice and chicken. With a wooden spoon do about 2 swirls (do not mix more) to blend the soup with the avgolemono sauce. Heat, on very low heat for a few minutes to get soup warm.
5. Remove immediately from heat and serve.
Greek Secrets and Tips to Make the Best (and authentic) Avgolemono Chicken Soup
- Use chicken with the skin and bones. You will be removing the skin before eating, but that skin imparts a lot of flavor to the broth, and you are not really saving that many calories by not using the skin. Do not use boneless, skinless breast, it simply will not be as good as the original.
- There is no sauteing in this recipe. The authentic way of making this recipe involves no sauteing the vegetables beforehand. The true flavors of this soup do not need to be enriched with frying and sauteing.
- There is no added fat to this recipe, apart from the fat in the chicken or the eggs.
- Rice is important. You need to use short or medium grain rice to get that silky and smooth texture. Please make note of the amount of rice you use, it is dependent on the broth you have made.
- Rice is cooked in the broth, not separately, this imparts even more flavor
- Make the avgolemono sauce correctly. Making avgolemono is an art, but you can master it! Don’t just mix the eggs, lemon, and broth all at once. You need to temper the eggs. That means that you add the warm broth gradually so that you don’t cook the eggs. See the directions for details on how to do this.
- Finally, let’s just clarify that there is no such thing as authentic avgolemono soup ready on 30 minutes. But the good news is that you can make it from scratch in about 2 hours with only 15 minutes of preparation the rest of the time is passive cooking time, not bad considering how absolutely delicious this soup is.
Once the soup is cool, you can store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat place it in a pot, cover, and heat at a very low heat-(do not bring it to a boil) until the soup is warm. You may also add a squeeze of lemon to brighten it up.
You can also freeze avgolemono soup. Make sure to defrost in the refrigerator and re-heat at a very low heat, stirring occasionally
What to Serve with Avgolemono Soup
Typically, this soup is served with a green Greek romaine salad and the soup is the main course. However, you can also serve it in small servings as a first course, especially for special occasions.
Nutritional Value of Avgolemono Soup
Even though this soup looks so creamy and rich, it’s actually a low fat dish with only 13% of calories coming from fat, in addition it’s a great source of protein. Pair with a salad and you have a very balanced meal.
You May Also Like These Recipes
- Quick Sautéed Lemon and Garlic Chicken
- One-Pot Greek Lemon Chicken with Potatoes – Kotopoulo Lemonato
- Greek Stewed Pork and Greens in Lemon Sauce – Fricassee
- Authentic Greek Lemon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
Authentic Avgolemono Soup – Creamy Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
- 1 ½ pounds (700 g) chicken pieces with skin and bone
- 1 bunch celery leaves (or 2 celery sticks)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 medium carrots peeled
- 1 medium red onion quartered
- ½ – ¾ cup (90-135 g) uncooked short grain rice amount varies, please see recipe
- 2 whole eggs room temperature
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Salt/Pepper as needed
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley optional for garnish
- Place the chicken in a large pot with celery leaves, carrots, onion and the bay leaf. Add enough hot water (I measure how much water I add so that I can calculate how much rice to add later- I needed 8 cups of water) to cover the chicken. Ideally the water should already be hot as it helps maintain the juices of the chicken. Simmer for about 1 ½ hour.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove and place on a plate along with the vegetables. Discard the onion, celery leaves and bay leaf. Keep the carrot. Leave broth in the pot.
- Remove about 1 cup of broth and add the juice of 1 lemon to it-set aside.
- Bring the rest of the broth to a simmer, add salt to taste and add the rice. Add 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of short grain rice per 1 cup broth depending on how thick you want the soup. By adding more rice, you will have a thicker soup. Lower heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is done. Turn off heat.
- In the meantime, remove the skin from the chicken, add salt and pepper to taste and shred the chicken. Slice the carrot. Place shredded chicken pieces and sliced carrots in the soup, cover and set aside.
Make avgolemono sauce
- Separate egg yolks and whites. In a small bowl add only the yolks and the juice of 1 lemon-do not mix and set aside.
- In another large bowl add the whites, whip with a mixer until stiff peaks develop, add the yolks to the egg whites and mix on low until blended.
- Now add the broth that you had set aside gradually to the egg mixture while mixing on very low-make sure broth is not hot otherwise it will cook the egg; it should be lukewarm. Add about 2 tablespoons at a time until you have used all the broth that you had set aside. *You may leave the chicken and carrots on a plate and serve separately.
Assemble the soup
- Add the egg lemon broth mixture back in the pot to the rice and chicken. With a wooden smooth do about 2 swirls (do not mix more) to blend the soup with the avgolemono sauce. Heat, on very low heat for a few minutes to get soup warm.
- Remove immediately from heat.
- Serve warm. Season with black pepper and salt as needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley (optional).
SAVE FOR LATER AND PIN IT!
Photos by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved
Can this be made in an Instant Pot? So many of these kinds or recipes look good to me, but I rarely have the time to make. 🙁
This was so good Elena. So glad I tried it!
I would like to try this recipe but need to avoid eggs. Can you suggest a substitute ingredient for the eggs? Thank you!
Hi Christina, You may use 3 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste) in the place of the 2 eggs.
Thank you Elena – can’t wait to try this!
Thank you Elena, I learned some new things! The soup was still delish even though it wasnt executed perfectly!!
Chicken was typically rinsed with wine to remove any odors, but you are ok to just rinse it with water.
No, that’s absolutely fine.
This looks like a great recipe. Would it be possible to use lamb instead of the chicken? If so, how much should be used?
Thanks so much,
Hi Geoff, yes lamb is often made aygolemono. I would use the same amount.
Do not read these recipes on empty stomach!
Great job Elena. Bravo !!!
Μου θυμίζεις την μάνα μου (εννοώ οι συνταγές σου)!!!
Thanks Nick! Να σαι καλά!
The amount of broth depends on how much water you add initially to cover your chicken, for an average chicken 2 eggs corresponds to the amount of broth you will have left after boiling the rice. If you use a half chicken than just one egg. However in our updated format of the recipe we have included the amounts of carrots etc. that were initially also in the directions.
But chickens can be different sizes and pots can be different sizes too. It’s a very inaccurate measurement. If you made this dish then calculated how much broth is going in with the egg and lemon mixture it would give people more of idea of how the ratios should play out. I’m not Greek, I’ve never had this dish before but I have left over chicken broth; that’s how I found this recipe on your website. It sounds delicious but I don’t know how it should taste and what the consistency should be like. I don’t want to upset the Greek Gods and shame them with my attempt! haha!
No worries. Just to get an idea, you would be using the broth leftover after boiling the rice, which is about 3-4 tablespoons, so not a huge amount.
In #2 you say “ with a wooden smooth do …” Do you mean spoon??
Yes, a spoon or spatula that won’t scratch the surface.