Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo (Avgolemono)

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo (Avgolemono)

Greek lemon chicken soup with Orzo (Avgolemono) is a traditional Greek soup that combines the tangy flavors of lemon juice and eggs with the heartiness of orzo pasta. This comforting dish can be made with either chicken broth or vegetable broth, depending on your preference, and it’s often garnished with fresh herbs for extra flavor.

Perfect for cold nights when you need something hearty and filling, this classic Greek recipe is sure to become a favorite in your household!

Greek Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

What is Greek lemon chicken soup with orzo (Avgolemono)?

Greek lemon chicken soup with orzo is a classic Greek soup made with a mixture of lemon juice and eggs (Avgolemono), providing a tangy and velvety consistency. Orzo (manestra), a rice-shaped pasta, is often added to the soup to provide a heartier texture.

The soup is typically made with chicken broth or stock, although it can also be prepared with vegetable broth for a vegetarian option. Fresh herbs, such as dill or parsley, are often added as a garnish to enhance the flavor of this comforting and delicious soup.

  • Hearty comfort food: This Greek soup is ideal when you want something that is filling and warming
  • Make in bigger batches: It is also easier to make in larger quantities if you are feeding more people

Greek Egg Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo (Avgolemono)

Greek lemon chicken soup with Orzo Key Ingredients 

Chicken: You’ll want 6 chicken thighs, skin-on with the bone for this recipe. To them, you’ll add red onions and carrots.

Orzo: The recipe uses around 120g of orzo pasta for six servings.

Egg mixture (Avgolemono): You need 2 large eggs, juice from one lemon and some roughly chopped dill for the sauce.

Ingredients for Greek Lemon Chicken orzo Soup)

Key Preparation Tips for Greek lemon chicken soup with Orzo

There are three main steps involved with this recipe:

  1. Prepare the chicken
  2. Cook the orzo
  3. Make the egg mixture and serve

Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup (Avgolemono)

Prepare the chicken

Place the chicken thighs in a big pot with halved and peeled red onion and finely chopped, peeled carrots to cook the chicken. Don’t forget to season well and add sufficient water to completely cover the chicken. Add more water if needed.

First, heat the mixture until it boils. Then, lower the heat to a low setting and let it simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.

Greek Egg Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup prep

Cook the orzo

Take out the chicken thighs from the pan and keep them aside. Check the seasoning and include more salt and pepper to the soup if required.

After adding the orzo, increase the heat to medium and cook for another 15 minutes with the lid on until the pasta becomes tender.

After the chicken has cooled down, remove the skins and shred the meat from the bone. Make sure to return the bones to the pot as soon as possible.

After the orzo becomes tender, take out the chicken bones and red onion from the pot. Use a sieve to strain out any carrot or orzo pieces and transfer 3-4 ladles of hot soup to a jug.

Boil the Orzo for Greek lemon chicken soup

Make the egg lemon sauce (Avgolemono) and serve

Whisk the eggs with lemon juice until frothy. While whisking continuously, slowly add hot soup to the egg mixture until it becomes light, creamy, and loose. Then, whisk the mixture back into the soup pot.

Prepare the Egg Lemon sauce (Avgolemono)

After shredding the chicken, put it back into the soup. If necessary, add some additional water and recheck the seasoning. Once the chicken has heated up, take the pot off the stove and mix in the diced dill before serving.

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo prep

What is tempering? Why is it important in this recipe?

Tempering is a technique used to slowly raise the temperature of a cold or room temperature liquid mixture, such as eggs or dairy, by adding a small amount of hot liquid to it while constantly whisking. Gradually increasing the temperature of the mixture prevents the eggs from curdling or scrambling when added to a hot liquid.

In the case of Avgolemono with Orzo, tempering is important because it ensures that the mixture of eggs and lemon juice does not separate or curdle when added to the hot chicken broth.

This technique allows the soup to maintain a smooth and velvety consistency, giving it that signature creamy texture. Without tempering, the soup would not have the desired richness and could potentially have an unappetizing texture.

Greek Egg Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

What pasta can you use in place of Orzo?

If you don’t have orzo available, you can easily substitute other small pasta shapes to make your Avgolemono soup. Here are a few possible pasta choices:

  • Arborio Rice: You can use arborio rice, which is commonly used to make risotto, as a substitute for orzo in Avgolemono soup. The rice grains help to give the soup a rich and creamy texture.
  • Acini di Pepe: Acini di Pepe are small, round pasta that works well as a substitute for orzo. They are perfect for soups because they cook quickly and absorb the flavors of the broth well.
  • Ditalini: Ditalini pasta is small tube-shaped pasta that is about the same size as orzo. They have a hollow center, which captures the broth and creates a hearty texture.

Variations

There are several variations that can be made to this recipe to customize it to your taste. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Add vegetables: To make the soup more hearty, you can add vegetables such as carrots, celery, peas or spinach to the broth.
  2. Use a different protein: Instead of chicken, you can use other types of protein.
  3. Add spices: To give the soup a different flavor, you can add spices like cumin, paprika or coriander.
  4. Make it vegetarian: You can substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth and omit the chicken to make a vegetarian version of the soup.

These are just a few ideas but feel free to get creative and come up with your own variations based on what ingredients you have on hand and what flavors you prefer.

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo (Avgolemono)

Serving suggestions

Greek lemon chicken soup with Orzo pairs well with a variety of side dishes that complement its rich, tangy flavor. Garlic bread is one perfect side dish. Serve it warm, the crispy garlic bread is perfect for dipping into the soup.

The simplest way to serve the soup is with some fresh, crusty, Greek village breadsourdough bread, bread machine sourdough bread or my easy and crusty bread made with self raising flour

A classic Greek salad with feta cheese, olives, cucumber, and tomato is another great side dish that complements the flavors of the soup.

Love soups?

If you love a hearty soup as much as I do then these recipes below are perfect for a cold winter’s day!

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Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo (Avgolemono)

Greek Lemon Chicken soup with Orzo (Avgolemono)

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  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 55 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 portions 1x
  • Category: Soups
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Greek

Description

Greek lemon chicken soup with orzo (Avgolemono) is a traditional Greek soup that combines the tangy flavors of lemon and eggs with the heartiness of orzo pasta. Perfect for cold nights when you need something hearty and filling, this classic Greek recipe is sure to become a favorite in your household!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 skin on bone in chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 carrots
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 cups water (1.2 L)
  • 120g orzo (4 oz) 
  • 2 large eggs
  • juice 1 lemon
  • small handful fresh dill, roughly chopped


Instructions

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a large pot with the red onion, peeled and halved, and the carrots, peeled and finely chopped. Season well and add the water, adding more if needed to make sure the chicken pieces are completely covered. Bring to the boil before reducing the heat to low. Allow to simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set aside. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to the soup if needed. Add the orzo and turn the heat up to medium. Cook with the lid on for another 15 minutes, or until the pasta is just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to touch discard the skins and shred the meat from the bone, returning the bones to the pot as soon as you can.
  4. Once the orzo is tender, remove the chicken bones and red onion, and remove 3-4 ladles of hot soup from the pot into a jug, using a sieve to leave any carrot or orzo pieces behind.
  5. Whisk the eggs until just frothy and then whisk in the lemon juice. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot soup into the egg mixture until loose, light and creamy. Then slowly whisk it back into the soup pot. 
  6. Return the shredded chicken to the soup. Add a little more water if needed, and check the seasoning again. Once the chicken has warmed through remove from the heat and stir through the chopped dill before serving.

 


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2 Comments

  1. Hi just made this and is delicious. Can I ask, how long does it keep in the fridge and can I freeze leftovers. Thank you Christine

  2. Mmmm…..so good. Made it for my kids and they love it. Thanks for sharing

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