Greek lemon chicken soup – A traditional wintery recipe
Hearty, simple and extra comforting, this Greek lemon chicken soup is with no doubt the perfect dish for a cold winter’s day! ‘Kotosoupa Avgolemono’ is a classic Greek soup made basically with chicken, which is boiled until tender, rice and finished off with a delicious egg-lemon sauce, which is added in the chicken broth.
So read along to discover my tips and tricks to make it to perfection as well as my variations and of course my delicious recipe!
What is Kotosoupa Avgolemono?
This is the authentic recipe for Greek lemon chicken soup, a trademark dish that has nourished generations. It mixes eggs with lemon and the delicious, fragrant chicken stock resulting in a deliciously tangy, thick and hearty soup. And best of all its topped off with some shredded chicken for that extra bit of comfort!
What is Avgolemono?
The secret ingredient for this heartwarming Greek lemon chicken soup (Kotosoupa Avgolemono) is the Avgolemono.
Avgolemono is an egg-lemon sauce, that is often added in Greek recipes and especially soups and acts as a thickening agent, giving the soup a unique creamy texture and tangy lemony flavor. This Greek lemon chicken soup recipe includes the traditional and fool proof recipe for preparing an egg-lemon sauce!
Although the basic chicken avgolemono soup recipe is relatively simple, my experience has shown that it can be really tricky to get right.
If you have ever tried making ‘Kotosoupa Avgolemono’ or any other Greek recipe that includes Avgolemono before, you must know that a few things can go wrong. That’s why I’ve put together my tips and tricks in the section below!
How to avoid the most common Chicken Egg-Lemon soup mistakes
The most common mistake is that the Avgolemono curdles and gets lumpy. Here are some tips to help you achieve the desired creamy texture for your Greek lemon chicken soup:
- The eggs should be at room temperature, so that they are not shocked and curdle from the hot broth
- The soup should be warm but not boiling hot. When you are done cooking your soup remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for 5-10 minutes or add 1/2 a cup of cold water to halt the boiling process
- You need to add enough broth so that the egg mixture is at the same temperature as the broth of the dish you are preparing
- The egg whites are more likely to curdle, as they tend to thicken up more quickly than the egg yolks when warmed so be sure to whisk vigorously and add the broth slowly. For more extensive tips and tricks take a look at my how to make the perfect Avgolemono article.
Should you pre-soak the rice?
Yes you want to pre-soak the rice. It helps the rice cook more quickly and uniformly. Why? Because soaking your rice in water allows the grain to absorb water ahead of cooking. It also hydrates the rice seeds and makes them swell. As the rice is hydrated before cooking it, it results in a fluffier rice!
To prepare the rice, rinse it a couple of times first to remove any excess starch. Then pour it in a bowl and add enough water to cover it and let it stand for around 30 minutes or until the grain of rice breaks easily when pressed.
Key Preparation Steps
Preparing your Greek chicken egg lemon soup is very simple. You’ll need to
- Prepare your chicken
- Prepare the egg-lemon (avgolemono) rice soup
- Assemble and serve!
Prepare the chicken
Start by placing the chicken in a deep pot. Using your hands, press the chicken down to the bottom of the pan, then add the whole onion, carrot, and water. After everything has been added, season with some salt. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat.
When the chicken begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. When the chicken is done, the flesh can be removed from the bones with ease. Some white foam may appear on the water while the chicken boils; remove it using a slotted spoon.
Remove the chicken from the broth, then strain your broth in a large bowl. You should have about 1 litre of stock remaining. If your stock is a bit less than that, add some water to it.
Prepare the egg lemon (avgolemono) rice soup
To make the egg-lemon rice soup, start by boiling your rice in the chicken stock. After the rice is done soaking, use a separate saucepan and add all of the hot broth and the strained rice, season with salt and pepper, and simmer until cooked.
When done cooking, your rice should have plenty of liquids left and resemble a soup. Set it aside to cool down until its lukewarm.
While the rice is cooking, prepare your chicken. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken meat. Shred the flesh into bite-size pieces and set aside. The chicken will be added to the soup in the end, when serving the dish.
Now its time to prepare your egg-lemon sauce! Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk until frothy; add the lemon juice and continue to whisk. Add a ladle of lukewarm soup to the mixture and whisk quickly.
Repeat with another ladle of hot soup, stirring after each addition, until the eggs have been fully warmed up and gently cooked.
Finally pour the egg mixture back into the rice soup saucepan, stirring it frequently to prevent it from curdling. Cover and set aside for 3-4 minutes.
Now its time to assemble and serve your chicken avgolemono soup! Ladle the soup into bowls, then top with your shredded chicken and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper or paprika.
You could add some of your favorite Greek herbs to add to the flavor of the soup but do it sparingly as you don’t want to overpower the taste of the lemon. You could also add a little wilted spinach or rocket (arugula) if you like some more vegetables in it.
Making ahead of time and storing
To save avgolemono soup for later, allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating it. Transfer to airtight containers and chill for up to three days.
Because its a cream-free soup, you may also freeze your avgolemono soup. This is particularly handy if you make a large batch! Just make sure you leave enough room in the freezer-safe containers for the soup to expand.
To use it, thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat on the stove over medium heat. If the soup needs more moisture, you can add a little bit of water or some chicken broth and heat thoroughly, stirring as you go to stop it from separating.
The simplest way to serve the soup is with some fresh, crusty, Greek village bread, sourdough bread, bread machine sourdough bread or my easy and crusty bread made with self raising flour. I also love pairing it with a deliciously fresh Greek salad.
If you love a hearty soup as much as I do then these recipes below are perfect for a cold winter’s day!
- Traditional Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia/ Youvarlakia) In Egg-Lemon Sauce Recipe
- Greek Beef Soup Recipe (Kreatosoupa)
- Traditional Magiritsa Recipe (Greek Easter Soup)
- Greek Chickpea Soup Recipe (Revithia)
- Traditional Greek Bean Soup Recipe (Fasolada)
- Greek Lentil Soup Recipe (Fakes Soupa)
Greek lemon Chicken Soup recipe (Kotosoupa Avgolemono)
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 90 min
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 portions 1x
- Category: Soups
- Method: Boiled
- Cuisine: Greek
The perfect dish for a cold winter’s day! ‘Kotosoupa Avgolemono’ is a hearty and delicious classic Greek lemon chicken soup, bursting with Mediterranean flavours.
- 1 chicken (1-1.2 kg/ 35-40 ounces)
- 1 red onion, peeled
- 5 cups (1.2 L) of water
- 150–200g short-grain rice, like Arborio (6–7 ounces)
- 2 large eggs
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 carrots (optional)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- To prepare this traditional Greek lemon chicken soup, place your chicken in a deep pot. Push the chicken with your hands down to the bottom of the pan, add the whole onion, the carrot, pour in the water and season. The water should be enough to cover the chicken. Place on high heat, put the lid on and bring to the boil.
- When the chicken starts to boil, turn the heat down and boil the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The chicken is ready when the meat can be removed easily from the bones. While the chicken boils, some white foam will probably surface on the water. Remove the foam with a slotted spoon.
- Proceed to pre soak your rice. While the chicken is cooking, rinse your rice and add it in a bowl and cover it with some water. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Using a fine colander, drain the water and set aside.
- Remove the chicken from the broth and strain the broth. You should have about 1 litre of broth left. If it has reduced a lot, add some water. Add the hot broth in another pot, add the rice and season with salt and pepper and boil, until done.
- While the rice is being cooked, prepare your chicken. Pull the chicken meat from the bones and discard the skin. Shred the meat into bite sized chunks.
- To prepare the egg lemon sauce for this Greek lemon chicken soup, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk, until foamy; add the lemon juice and whisk again. Add into the bowl a ladle of hot soup and whisk quickly. Add one more ladle and whisk again, so that the eggs gradually warm up and cook gently. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot, whilst constantly stirring so your eggs do not curdle. Then put the lid on and set it aside for 3-4 minutes.
- To assemble and serve your chicken soup, ladle the soup into your bowls, top with the diced chicken and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper or paprika. Enjoy!
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 277kcal
- Sugar: 2.3g
- Sodium: 376mg
- Fat: 4.7g
- Saturated Fat: 1.1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 2.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 25.2g
- Fiber: 0.8g
- Protein: 31.5g
- Cholesterol: 137mg
Keywords: Kotosoupa Avgolemono, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, Traditional Avgolemono Soup
what’s the yield?
6-8 servings so about 2 litres
When I made my avgolemono sauce, I separated eggs and whipped the whites til almost stiff (adding some flour if needed). Whipped yolks with a fork and added to whites on slow speed. Then I alternated adding broth and lemon juice. Then added to the soup. I married a man from Greece and his mother whipped eggs by hand, therefore, the avgolemono was not frothy. I have adjusted but I made the best avgolemono soup then. Patti Masouridis
Made this yesterday Eli and it took me back to my childhood days when the weather turned and that dreaded flu virus goes round!! A soup that is delicious and comforting!!! Thankyou so much for this website as I wasn’t taught all the traditional recipes by my Cypriot Dad as he passed away when I was a teenager thanks to you and your recipes I have made a few of my favourite childhood dishes and they bring back many fond memories of my dad and the great dishes he made xx
I just made my favorite Greek Avloglemono soup and mmmm delicious.
We are so pleased with the result.
Thanks so much! We used to say that this could cure anything from a broken heart to broken limbs. Thanks so much for sharing these childhood recipes with me.
Did I miss something? When to put the rice into the soup ?
See step #2.
Some versions seem to be thicker, like the one served at the Greek church here. Are they using cornstarch to thicken perhaps? I like a bit thicker consistency personally.
They probably made it the night before and some of the water evaporated overnight, thus thickening the soup.
I had this soup for the first time ever earlier this week and was wondering where it has been all my life. I found your recipe when doing a search as I knew I must have this soup recipe on hand going forward. Just made it this afternoon and it came out great! I did add the a little extra lemon juice from half a lemon to up the lemon flavor a little more. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Your welcome Rachel! So glad you liked it and it turned out beautiful for you!
For me 5 cups of water was not enough because of this a added only 1 egg. I added 200g of rice and it was more a rice dish than a soup. Needed more lemon flavour as well.
Hi Lilian, 5 cups is about 1.2 litres of water which should be more than enough for the soup. If while boiling the chicken the water reduces a lot, you can add some more to bring it back up to about 1 litre in total.
So you thinned it down with extra water and half the egg, and you wonder why it didn’t taste as expected? Wow. If it wasn’t lemony enough, maybe your lemons were smaller, so maybe you could have added an extra squeeze or two.
I think I used more then 5 cups but I used 2 lemons how do I get it to thicken some I added the chicken to the soup
I used to get this soup from a family owned Greek restaurant in Sacramento where I grew up whenever I needed a bowl of comfort. This recipe brought me back to that and is SO good. Thank you!
Don’t forget the incredibly large chunk of feta when you serve 😉