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Avgolemono Soup…Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon

Avgolemono soup is the classic Greek chicken penicillin.  It is a heavenly, velvety soup with a savory chicken broth, tart lemons and egg yolks.  The combination creates a smooth and comforting soup perfect for a new twist on the classic chicken soup.

Avgolemono soup is the classic Greek chicken penicillin. It is a heavenly, velvety soup with a savory chicken broth, tart lemons and egg yolks. The combination creates a smooth and comforting soup perfect for a new twist on the classic chicken soup.


I have a certain affinity for chicken soup.  I have re-created almost every single nationality’s version of chicken soup on this site, constantly in search of the perfect chicken soup to each culture.

Psst… check out all my favorite chicken soups!

See there is a perfect spot right up there for my new delicious Greek chicken soup, Avgolemono.  Avgolemono literally means egg-lemon.  And that is precisely what this soup is.  A simple concoction of flavors that is comfort food and healthy food all in one.  All that lemony and chicken goodness soothes the tummy and the sniffles.

I first had this Avgolemono soup at a local Greek restaurant that I frequently grabbed salads and gyros from.  One day, I wasn’t feeling all that hot and ordered their signature Greek chicken soup option.  In front of me, appeared a beautiful bowl overflowing with a smooth yellow soup that had soothing aromas emanating from it.  I inhaled the soup in a few minutes, burning my tongue and simultaneously clearing out my sniffles.  Avgolemono soup is the classic Greek chicken penicillin. It is a heavenly, velvety soup with a savory chicken broth, tart lemons and egg yolks. The combination creates a smooth and comforting soup perfect for a new twist on the classic chicken soup.

I happened to find a recipe of this Avgolemono soup in this month’s Cooks Illustrated, aka my favorite cooking magazine ever!  In there they showed the science of how to make a silky and velvety soup without ending up with a gummy overly tart paste. (yuck)

Characteristically Avgolemono is a broth thickened with egg yolks with a few tender pieces of chicken and perfectly cooked rice grains interlaced.  The end result is a silky soup with a deliciously refreshing lemony finish.  The perfect end all for colds, tummy aches and general blues.

The Technique 

Avgolemono soup has a unique texture due to two important thickening agents.  Egg yolks and rice.  There are however just a few basics of this soup that need to be done right in order to achieve soup greatness.  And while they are particular they are also ridiculously simple.

Avgolemono soup is the classic Greek chicken penicillin. It is a heavenly, velvety soup with a savory chicken broth, tart lemons and egg yolks. The combination creates a smooth and comforting soup perfect for a new twist on the classic chicken soup.

  1. The Broth: I prefer to use a rich broth for the Avgolemono soup.  The chicken flavor will really enhance the heartiness of the soup without making it heavy.  I have made it with both homemade chicken broth and store-bought and have been quite happy with the results.  Just make sure you buy a brand you trust that is both flavorful and light on the sodium.  I have nothing against salt…but I like to control my salt in my soup thank you very much.  Also, feel free to use a nice vegetarian stock or broth of your liking if you would like to make this a vegetarian option.
  2. The Lemons: Avgolemono soup’s unique flavor profile also comes from lemons.  However, I took a hint from the fine people over at Cooks Illustrated and decided to infuse that lemony flavor into the broth itself by sweating out some lemon peels along with some onions.  The result was an extremely flavorful and deep taste that came through in all different notes.  In the end, we also finish off the soup with a hefty amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice.  I do draw the line with that bottled stuff.  It NEVER tastes right.
    And while it may do in a pinch when you need some extra tartness elsewhere, it will not fly in this soup.Avgolemono soup is the classic Greek chicken penicillin. It is a heavenly, velvety soup with a savory chicken broth, tart lemons and egg yolks. The combination creates a smooth and comforting soup perfect for a new twist on the classic chicken soup.
  3. Rice or Orzo Pasta: Some recipes call for orzo, the rice shaped pasta, but I preferred the natural thickening agents within rice instead of the pasta starch which could make this soup gummy.  Without getting too scientific, rice produces a natural thickening agent that actually changes the way liquids bond with it.  So therefore you are changing the structure of the soup and making it thicker.  I find that going with pasta would definitely make it a bit more gummy.
  4. Eggs: In culinary school, we learned about several different thickening agents.  One of which was egg yolks, it not only acts as a thickener but also as an emulsifier (think of it in dressings like Caesar dressing.).  I was never a fan off eggs in soup, because it took on a slightly eggier taste which was not to my liking.  Funny enough, while the yolk certainly has a stronger flavor profile, it is the egg white that carries an acid within it that makes it smell more, well, eggy.  So once again the people at Cooks Illustrated decided that instead of adding all whole eggs, they would split them and add 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks. It resulted in a velvety soup with no eggy smell.  That being said, it is quite easy to end up with scrambled eggs instead of a smooth soup if you do not treat the eggs correctly.  When eggs are added to heat they will immediately start to solidify.  In an attempt to prevent this from happening in a scrambled egg type of matter we temper our eggs.  All that means is we pour in a good amount of the hot soup into the eggs ladle by ladle which simultaneously whisking the eggs.  This brings the eggs up to temperature slowly and so they do not experience the initial shock and scramble.  Science folks.
  5. Chicken: Now this part I believe is up to personal preference.  I have made this soup MANY times already.  And while classically it is made with torn chicken pieces, I actually liked it more without the chicken.  Whereas the hubby liked it with the chicken for the extra protein boost.  Honestly, it is entirely up to you.
  6. Thickening the Soup: While we may have talked a great deal about thickening agents in this soup there is one very obvious thickening technique I have not yet mentioned.  I decided that in order for me to achieve the velvety texture I sought after I would need to blend a bit of the soup.  Prior to placing the eggs into the soup, I took my stick blender and whizzed it around the soup a few times to break up some of the rice grains.    This created a beautiful texture.

Avgolemono soup is the classic Greek chicken penicillin. It is a heavenly, velvety soup with a savory chicken broth, tart lemons and egg yolks. The combination creates a smooth and comforting soup perfect for a new twist on the classic chicken soup.

When I made this soup this weekend for the 20th time, I served it up with my ridiculously simple and Seriously Crispy No Knead Bread.  It was the perfect vehicle to mop up the soup at the very end.

I garnished the soup with some more fresh lemon zest and just a few sprigs of dill to Greek it up a bit more 🙂  The result was lunch perfection that the hubs, munchkin and I killed in just a few days.

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Avgolemono Soup...Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon (3 of 7)

Avgolemono Soup…Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon

  • Author: Mila Furman
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 people 1x


Avgolemono soup is the classic Greek chicken penicillin. It is a heavenly, velvety soup with a savory chicken broth, tart lemons and egg yolks. The combination creates a smooth and comforting soup perfect for a new twist on the classic chicken soup.


  • 2 quarts chicken stock or broth (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 cup cooked chicken (optional, shredded)
  • 1 medium onion (finely diced)
  • ½ cup long grain white rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 lemon zest strips (about 2 lemons zested)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup lemon juice from zester lemons
  • sprigs of dill for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. To a large pot, add 1 tbsp olive, onion and lemon strips.
  2. Allow to sweat for 7 minutes over low-medium heat while covered. Make sure that no color develops.
  3. Add chicken stock or broth to the pot long with the rice, bay leaf and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to and simmer until rice is tender and stock is aromatic, about 20 minutes.
  4. With slotted spoon, remove and discard bay leaf and lemon zest strips.
  5. Increase heat to high and return stock to boil, then reduce heat to low.
  6. Place stick blender into the pot and blend for a few seconds. If you do not have a stick blender, place about 2 cups of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yolks, and lemon juice lightly until combined.
  8. Taste and season with extra salt, pepper and lemon juice if necessary.
  9. While whisking constantly, slowly ladle about 2 cups of hot stock or broth into egg mixture; whiskuntil combined.
  10. Add chicken. (optional)
  11. Pour egg-stock mixture back into pot; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until soup is slightly thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  12. After this, do not simmer or bring to a boil as this will cause the soup to get gummy.
  13. Serve immediately with sprigs of dill, extra lemon zest and black pepper.


1.If reheating the soup, it will get thicker. This is normal. Feel free to add a bit more chicken stock when reheating to thin out the soup a bit.
2. I really preferred the soup without chicken pieces in it. I found the soup to be more appealing in texture. However, feel free to add it in as the recipe states if you like the added protein. The chicken can also be shredded at the end as a garnish.

3. The nutritional information should be used for informational purposes only.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: Greek



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    1. OMG you really are amazing! I may have homemade broths but it is a rarity that I have homemade stock! Seriously incredible! And just an fyi… I had a fellow Greek make this soup and they themselves were pretty impressed 🙂 Enjoy my friend!

    2. Just made this for the first time, and it is definitely a keeper! It was easy and fun to make, plus it’s so tasty, and not watery like some soups tend to be. Delish! I will definitely be making this again! Thanks, Mila!

    1. Hi Marlene!!!! I was just thinking of you the other day 🙂 I saw that you posted something and noticed that you were residing in La Jolla! I was just there in November! Had I known! Ahhh! Nonetheless it was my favorite place in SD!!! Good to know I have fellow blogger friends everywhere 🙂 As for the soup…it’s pure love! And it will be heaven with this stock!

  1. Just made this tonight and it was delish! I added 4 cut up chicken breasts to the soup before bringing it to a boil. We loved it. Thank you so much for the recipe!!

    1. Extraordinary! Thank you for your crystal clear explanation of the techniques involved, making the execution a snap!

  2. Oh lort! This is good! I make mine in an instant pot….This is SO great for the soul in the winter months!

      1. Hi Rachael, I would do it for 10 minutes on high with natural or quick release. HOWEVER, make sure to add the eggs in AFTER you open the lid. I have never tried it in the IP but based on all the soups I made in there, this seems like it would work in that amount of time.

        1. Hi Mila,
          I found your recipe while looking for a lemon chicken soup with rice cooked in an instant pot and found yours! I’m new to the IP and am going to try yours and just finished chopping all the veggies. I’m using a Basamati toasted onion rice and guess I should put it in IP after sautéing the veggies? I’m using 1 cup of rice and 2, 32 oz. boxes of chicken stock and wanted to know when I should add the lemon juice. I bought a family size rotisserie chicken last night and cut it into larger chunks and don’t know if that should go in at the end as well. I hope you can answer these questions and appreciate if you could help. Sorry for all the questions but want to make sure I’m doing this right.
          THANK YOU!!!

  3. Hooray! I’ve made other avgolemonos before, and they were fine, but this one hit it out of the park. I think this is the first recipe I’ve made from this blog, but I think I’ll go look for some other ones to bookmark. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for this wonderful recipe, will be making again and again! I think it is my favorite version as most of the other recipes seem too eggy. Love this and it is perfect for this dreary day, and morning sick momma!

  5. Thanks so much. I could never get the consistency right …. It’s about the tempered egg!

    This is so good 🙂

  6. This soup is amazing! My hubby who normally doesn’t like my cooking ate 2 oversized bowls of it. Thanks for sharing and for the thorough instructions. This soup is definitely going into the rotation.

  7. Thanks for the recipe! I’d like to suggest you try a Filipino chicken soup, it might be one to add to your favorites, it’s one of mine. Chicken Tinola.

  8. I found this soup to be super bland. I even used homemade stock. Needs more rice.
    Wish I hadn’t made a double batch before trying this.

    1. Hi! What a bummer! I’ve had this happen before when my lemons weren’t potent enough! I would try adding a bit more zest! Good luck!

    2. Cannot possibly see how the soup turned out bland. It is simple, but if all the ingredients are of high quality the result is perfect. To me the zest is what makes this recipe special. I have come back to it again and again. 🙂

  9. Love this recipe! I make turkey stock after thanksgiving every year and have made a turkey version of this soup twice now with the leftovers from the holiday. My family loves it, thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow did this taste,GREAT, a house full of picky eaters and what a hit. I pureed the whole then added shrimp, my 2 year old grandson oh oh too much with his bite so I added some heavy whipping cream to his yum that was the finishing touch. I repeat YUM!!

  11. OMG!!! Simply amazing!! This recipe for Avgolemono soup tastes better than the one I order from our local Greek Restaurant!! You nailed it! Thank you for sharing…

      1. I followed everything to a tee and it turned out very bitter,this is one of my favorite soups so I was disappointed that it didn’t taste like I thought it was going to. Is there any way to use just the juice of the lemon instead of the zest and juice? I will try making it again.

        1. All the flavor of a lemon is in the zest… the bitterness is in the white part , the pith. Is it possible some of the pith got in?

  12. I’ve been making this soup for years plenty happy with it. I found your recipe with new techniques like using sweated lemon zest and skipping half the egg whites, and am amazed with how enriched the flavor and texture is! This is an amazing recipe with awesome tips. Thanks so much!

  13. DO NOT OMIT the dill!!! It takes what is a “good” dish and sends it into the stratosphere. Not kidding.

  14. I made up an instant pot version of this yesterday and it turned out awesome. I used a whole, cubed, cooked chicken breast, which I added at the same time as the rice. Blended the soup for about 20 seconds, to infuse the chicken and rice more throughout, before adding the egg mix. The end result was a thicker, creamier soup but the flavours were out of this world!

    This is the first recipe I’ve tried of yours but I’m looking forward to trying others.

  15. I haven’t made it yet, but I will be making this soup today. Thank you so much for the tips, it looks fantastic and I was looking for a way to impart more lemon flavor. Peels! Of course!

  16. Made this for a greek-themed girls’ night tonight. So delicious. I couldn’t believe the huge bowls my friends were pouring and devouring! Got a lot of awesome compliments. Thank you!

  17. This looks so good trying it this week, thanks for the recipe. One tip to get rid of the “eggy” taste/smell is to remove the skin from the yolk.

  18. I made this and it was quite easy. Nice creamy silky Texture. Pale yellow color. I did not add any chicken. And only used as a garnish for those that wanted it.

  19. Let me just start by saying that 1. I have been disappointed by countless recipes for Avgolemono and 2. that I never leave reviews for recipes. People, this one is the real deal! Very creamy and the sweated lemon peel adds a rich lemmony (not quite bitter) depth that really makes this one stand out. Also I swore by orzo in my soups bit I am a changed woman! The rice and the immersion blender combo MAKES the texture. This was so good and easy to follow. I had no homemade stock so I cheated and it was still awesome. Can’t wait to make this again 100% homemade. Thank you! 🙂

  20. Chicago girl here! I just used your Avgolemeno recipe for the second time, with great results, We’ll be having it tomorrow with a few dishes from Greek Islands – should be the perfect starter. Thanks for the easy-to-follow and pretty foolproof recipe!

  21. Hi there,
    Can I use precooked leftover rice for this?
    If not, do I have to rinse out the Starch from the rice before adding it?


        1. I personally would not, especially since new studies suggest brown rice is not at all helpful to us. Plus it will take much longer to cook and will change the color of the soup as well.

  22. Second time making it and very happy. This time I zested the lemon peel (for ease), finely chopped 2 carrots and box grated a small zucchini into the mix. I was looking for more veggies. It is so good either way. The lemon peel is really the game changer for sore. It’s probably better in strips, but wasn’t bad just zested.

  23. Looking for a Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon and ran across yours. We were at a Greek restaurant and this was the first time I had every ordered the soup and it was delicious so I wanted to make one for dinner. It’s crazy to look for 1 soup recipe and find so many different kinds, sorry but I digress. Yours was the only one I found that I liked the sound of and so will be making it for dinner tonight. I have read all of the comments and taken notes and have all of the ingredients on hand. I can almost guarantee that the family will say this is a keeper. I have fresh stock, eggs, lemons and chicken, so I will give it a 5 star because it feels like a 5 star recipe, but will check back in if it’s not and post another comment, but please don’t expect it. Thank you for this in advance.

  24. Just made it without chicken. It’s been a super cold any snowy week, so I was craving something comforting and warm but bright. Huge hit with the whole family, include my 8 and 10 year old kids who don’t normally like soups. Thank you!

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