Recipe: Avgolemono -- Greek lemon chicken soup

by Julie Snyder

Lemon Chicken SoupHave you ever wished you had the recipe for that amazing soup with the super-lemony broth served in Greek restaurants?

You might be surprised by the recipe's simplicity.

It calls for just five ingredients in addition to water, salt, and pepper.

Although from start to finish, it takes a couple hours to make, you'll only spend 10 minutes in the kitchen.

Whip up a pot; it's a great cold weather treat.

Avgolemono -- Greek lemon chicken soup

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 2 hours | Yield: 4 to 6 servings


• 3 chicken breast halves on the bone
• 1 quart water
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup long-grain white or brown rice or orzo
• 2 large eggs
• juice of 2 lemons
• pepper, to taste
• zest from 1 lemon, optional
• 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)


In a large saucepan, bring the chicken, water, and salt to a boil. Skim the surface and lower the heat. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the liquid. Poor broth into a bowl and refrigerate to cool. Cover and refrigerate the chicken separately.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the rice or orzo. Cook the white rice for 12 minutes, the brown rice for 40 minute or the orzo for 8 minutes or until they are tender. Drain.

Skim off and discard the fat from the broth. Skin the chicken. Cut 1 1/2 of the chicken breasts into 1/4-inch pieces, discarding the bones. Set aside.

In a soup pot, return the broth to a boil. Add the cut-up chicken and simmer for 2 minutes or until it is hot. Remove the pot from the heat.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, lemon juice, and pepper. Slowly, pour 2 cups of broth into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Once all the broth is incorporated, add the mixture into the pot of chicken soup, stir to blend well throughout.

Return the soup to the burner and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it thickens slightly, stirring. Don't bring to a boil. Add the rice or orzo and lemon zest if using. Stir well.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon slices.

Cook's note

This recipe begins with three chicken breast halves to give the broth lots of flavor, but you use only 1 1/2 for the soup. For a second meal, shred the chicken, add a scoop of Greek salad and wrap it all up in pita bread.

Classic avgolemono typically contains a little rice and a few pieces of chicken. Add more chicken if you'd like to use it as a main course.

What's your favorite soup on a cold winter day?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.