Chicken Soup: Greek Lemon Chicken Soup – Avgolemono

Chicken soup is food for the soul and is said to be the most famous broth-based soup in the world. Because it is so popular there are innumerable cultural variations and recipes.  I could have an entire blog devoted to chicken soup – but that would get a bit mundane for both you and me even though I am a soup and sauce addict.

One of my favorite chicken soups – yes, I have a lot of favorites – is avgolemono soupa, Greek lemon chicken soup. “Avgolemono” refers to the egg (avgo) and lemon (lemon) sauce that is the basis of many Greek dishes. The term is also widely used to reference the soup that’s made of the same.

This is a heartier version than most traditional and commonly found recipes because it includes both the cooked chicken and veggies. Many recipes also call for adding flour or cornstarch, I don’t use either and make this recipe gluten-free friendly by using a starchy rice to make the soup thick and creamy. The eggs are also a thickener and give it some richness.  If you can eat pasta, try it with orzo pasta – it’s frequently the preferred starch used to make avgolemono.

The secret to making a really good Greek lemon chicken soup is the stock. If you have home-made stock all the better. If you don’t keep your freezer stocked with it, you can substitute chicken thighs for breasts, which will make for a tastier broth. If you use bouillon cubes, good luck.

If you’ve never made or eaten avgolemono, do try it. Like many other Greek dishes, the use of citrus brings a refreshing balance of flavor.  It’s light but still satisfying and great for leftovers. I’ve been grubbin’ on it these last few nights when I needed some comfort food – the cold temperatures and snow are back in Denver.

I also wanted to mention that I made a food stylng faux pas – I added the fresh ground black pepper to the bowl before I photographed (and soon after ate) it.

By the way this is one of those soups that tastes better the next day.

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup – Avgolemono

Serves 6 to 8

This is a lemony version of avgolemono. If that makes you nervous, cut back the lemon whisked in with the eggs to 1/4 cup and add more to taste. (Note: the lemon flavor gets more concentrated as the soup thickens. Use caution in using more than 1/2 cup (the juice of two lemons).

In the event, the soup is too lemony or thick for your tastes, you can thin it with another cup or two of chicken stock. If you prefer a thicker soup, reduce the amount of stock by a cup or two; you do so, you’ll also need to reduce the amount of lemon juice.

Fresh parsley and/or dill are more than garnish with this soup. Don’t skip it.


2 large chicken breasts, cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces, seasoned generously with salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 half medium onion, diced small

2 stalks of celery, diced small

2 large carrots, diced small

12 cups chicken stock* (3 quarts)

1 cup starchy rice such as Arborio or orzo pasta**

1 to 2 teaspoons salt, divided

3 eggs, whisked

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons), juice divided

1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper

Fresh parsley or dill


  1. Cut chicken breasts into large pieces (2 to 3 inch pieces, about same thickness) and season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery and carrots. Saute for about two minutes. If the vegetables and bottom of the pot are completely dry, drizzle in about a tablespoon more of olive oil and add the chicken pieces. Lightly brown on both sides, stirring vegetables to avoid over browning. Add chicken stock, rice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes until chicken and rice are cooked.
  3. Remove 1 1/2 cups broth and set aside in a separate small bowl. Set aside to cool slightly. Remove chicken with tongs and shred with a fork. Set aside separately. (2 large chicken breasts make about 3 cups shredded chicken).
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs with 1/2 cup lemon juice (use about 1/4 cup lemon juice for a more subdued lemon accent). Whisk in about 1/4 cup of the set aside chicken broth into the egg mixture to temper the eggs – so they do not curdle. Repeat again, incrementally and slowly adding more broth as you whisk. After you’ve incorporated all the set aside broth into the egg mixture, slowly add it to the large pot of soup, whisking quickly to incorporate.
  5. Return the shredded chicken to the pot – heat throughout. Note: the heat should be on low and the soup should not boil again. Add the black pepper and adjust the salt. Serve hot and top with fresh parsley or dill. Avgolemono will thicken as it sits.


*Chicken stock: If you do not have some quality chicken stock, use about 4 chicken thighs in lieu of chicken breasts to make this soup. Season the thicks generously and brown them with the onions, celery and carrots. However, simmer the soup for about 45 minutes to an hour to develop the flavors. Debone and shred.

**You can also use a mix of rice and pasta if you’re not concerned with the gluten.

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30 Responses to Chicken Soup: Greek Lemon Chicken Soup – Avgolemono

  1. This is the double healthy version of the chicken soup. Chicken and Vitamin C. Perfect!
    Also a great tasting base for chicken soup is “Better than Bouillon”. They have an organic chicken base that is unbelievably tasty. Beats any other bought stock by miles.
    See you tomorrow.

  2. @Kristen: Yes, I’ve tried the Better than Bouillon and you’re right, it’s pretty good.

  3. Kathi says:

    Sounds like the perfect recipe to use my homemade chicken broth (made from my pastured chickens) on! Thanks, will be sharing this with several gluten-free friends.

  4. @Kathi – Yes you have some very special chickens. Just wish I was closer to buy them from you.

  5. No such thing as a style faux pas!! :)

    We make chicken stock every other week. It makes a world of difference. And with a tree full of lemons out back, I’m always looking for an excuse to make something lemony. Thank you for the reminder! I have this in the queue to make soon.

    Happy Sunday!


    P.S. I met with the LA Food Bloggers group yesterday. So many friendly faces from Camp Blogaway. You were missed!

  6. @Kim – Yes I miss my California food friends. Since you have access to a bounty of lemons I agree you should try this soup.

  7. Lana says:

    I almost made Avgolemono yesterday, to complete the Greek theme of my dinner:) BUt there is always today.
    I used to make it without rice or meat, just with the home-made stock (yes, I have several chicken carcasses in my box freezer:), but this version of yours would be hardier.
    I don’t know much about the rules of styling, but the pepper does not deter:)

  8. Lea Ann says:

    I swear I’ve made 200 different chicken soup recipes and never made Avgolemono. I’ll have to give it a try this week.

  9. @Lana: At one food styling workshop – they pretty much said avoid peppering before photos becaust it looks like gravel. Regardless, this soup sure was good. I was disappointed when my husband and I finished off this large pot. I’ve also had the versions without the meat, veggies and rice and variations thereof, but prefer avgolemono soup with all the goodies.

  10. I have never made this before, but surprisingly it doesn’t have a lot of complicated ingredients to deem it this lovely!

  11. sippitysup says:

    I have had a lemony chicken soup before and was very impressed. I wonder if it is this Geek version? I think I was in Panama! GREG

  12. Karen Harris says:

    Beautiful post. I’m with Lea Ann, I have made many versions of chicken soup but never this one. It is definitely going on my to do list.

    I so enjoyed meeting you at the meet up. Looking forward to the next one.

  13. What a lovely soup with such wonderful flavors…very nice :)

  14. Cassie says:

    I have seen recipes for this everywhere… I can’t believe I haven’t tried it yet! I’ll have to put it on my to-make list for sure

  15. Jenny says:

    Hey there, Andrea! Your Avgolemono looks heavenly. This soup has been on my “to make” list for a while, so I’ll have to try your recipe.

    Looks like we have yet another thing in common – we both love to travel. I’m really looking forward to meeting you and the rest of the group!

  16. […] Green Pozole African Peanut Quinoa Soup Sotanghon (Filipino Chicken Soup) Mexican Tortilla Soup Avgolemono (Green Lemon Chicken […]

  17. Elena says:

    I made this soup tonight using your recipe, as I was feeling the onset of the first winter flu. It was amazing, so tasty and exactly what my aching bones and heavy head needed.

  18. I made this tonight and it was absolutely divine. Thanks so much! One of my new favorites!

  19. Debbie Cohen Smith says:

    Can you make this without rice? Or can you use the soy based pasta?

  20. Nicole says:

    Is there anything you can do to substitute the 3 eggs? Can you use egg beaters?

  21. Tami says:

    My YiaYia (Great Grandmother from Greece) taught me to make this when I was a child, and we make it often… usually using a lemon per egg ratio… It may be considered an “aquired taste” ? Now that YiaYia is 98, I’m teaching my kids to make it, and we always send some to her. This is just one of those recipes that takes me back to childhood with her and my Thea (Aunt) Dia, and I wanted to share my memory! Highly recommend this recipe! We make a pot a couple times per month! :)

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  24. Noi ap suat says:

    Noi ap suat…

    Greek Lemon Chicken Soup – Avgolemono | Fork Fingers Chopsticks…

  25. Rui says:

    wowzer I am lost for words!!!!! This is just utterly Gorjuss!!!! I have never seen anytihng like this fabulous and creative…stunning, I honestly cant put into words how much I love this!! Hugs Juls

  26. Kian says:

    I am thanking the Lord for the few miunets I had this morning, between laundry, lunch, and lessons for my five babies, to sit and soak in this post. Thank you for taking the time to share it. I don’t know what the Lord has ahead of us in specifics, but I am trusting that He has us in His hands. Thank you for the encouragement to continue to TRUST!!!! That doesn’t always come naturally for me. Thank you <3~Angela

  27. Rodrigo says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart and your jouenry! You and your family, and the obedience you strive for have blessed me so much over the last 20 years. What a lovely example you’ve established for me. Thanks for being willing to invest in others!

  28. Caroline says:

    Whatever brand that doesnt cause the cat to pioejctrle vomit or have diarrhea..! I currently use IAMs Multi Cat formula because I have 4 cats- two young adults (3yrs olds) and two seniors (8yr olds) I’ve experimented with several different kinds of foods- cheap to expensive I’ve been told by my vet that it doesn’t really matter what kind of food- once you find one that works, stick to it Changing diets leads to the irritable bowel issues and finicky eating habits My vet also mentioned that IAMs is one of the highest calorie cat foods on the market- so I moniter their food intake carefully and make sure they get plenty of exercise to work off the extra pudginess.Also- I’ve read that white chicken is good for them, or adding a touch of chicken broth to their foods And occassionally they can eat soft grain white rice (not brown- it’s too hard for them to digest)- the white rice helps them maintain regularity. I’ve never done the rice thing myself, but they do get the occasional chicken as a treat.

  29. Liferijaz says:

    Dry dog food is terrible for cats, since feenlis have higher fat demands than dogs do.Tuna is also nutritionally incomplete, and high in mercury. Constant feeding builds the toxins in stored fats, eventually causing neurological damage.I like the human-quality pet foods. Wellness, from the well known Three Dogs Bakery, and Royal Canin are two that only use deboned chicken and natural ingredients.By the way, Science Diet is veterinary recommended simply because such partnerships subsidize veterinary practices. While non-human grade food technically is fine, the claim that it’s preferable over human-quality pet food is apocryphal. (Consider Walmart’s Old Roy pet food, Nature’s Recipe, and the countless other lines that have killed countless pets with bad batches, and had to be recalled.)I say, err on the side of caution.

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