Avgolemono Soup (Greek Chicken Soup with Lemon and Egg) is, for sure, without question, the best soup in the world. Avgolemono sauce is stirred into a basic chicken and rice soup, which is a luxurious sauce made of emulsified eggs, lemon juice, and hot broth. The result gives the soup a rich and creamy texture without any added dairy, plus it’s packed with nutrients like protein and vitamin C!
Avgolemono is everything you’d ever want out of a soup. It’s simple and light, yet hearty and satisfying. It has a luxurious creamy texture, but there’s no milk or cream anywhere. That’s just the Avgolemono sauce- eggs mixed with lemon juice and thoroughly emulsified and tempered with hot broth, then added into the soup. It also adds a really interesting foamy texture to the top of the soup – look closely at the photo above. See the tiny bubbles? Think gin fizz. Absolutely delightful.
What is Avgolemono Sauce?
Roughly translated, Avgolemono means “The nectar of the gods.” Just kidding. It means egg-lemon sauce (avgo=egg; lemono=lemon). In this case, it’s stirred into chicken and rice soup. You can also serve avgolemono sauce over grapeleaves (dolmathes), chicken, lamb, meatballs, etc. It’s kind of like a citrusy gravy.
You make it by mixing together eggs and lemon juice, then adding very hot broth gradually while mixing to temper the eggs.
Some people are intimidated by making avgolemono sauce. Done right, it’s extremely smooth and creamy. But the eggs can curdle sometimes, resulting in a less-than-ideal (but still delicious!) texture.
Never fear! I have some foolproof tips for making the smoothest, most perfectly emulsified Avgolemono sauce for this soup. It’s actually really easy to do and so satisfying!
Tips for making a super smooth Avgolemono
- Use a blender! A blender mixes the eggs and lemon juice at such a high speed, and it’s easy to gradually pour the hot broth into the mixture while the blender is on.
- No blender? Use an electric hand mixer instead and make the sauce in a bowl.
- You can, of course, use a whisk, mixing very vigorously, as the yaiyais did in ye olde days. But it’s harder to get a really nice smooth sauce this way.
- Note: a large food processor will work for small batches of avgolemono sauce; otherwise, it may overflow.
- Make sure the broth is BOILING hot. I make sure the broth is boiling before I add it to the sauce. And add it extremely gradually to the egg/lemon mixture.
- When adding the avgolemono sauce to the soup, turn off the heat. Similarly to soups with heavy cream added to them (like fish chowder), you want to make sure the soup isn’t boiling at all, otherwise it may curdle.
- Finally, stir some pats of cold butter into the soup after it’s all done.
- Adding butter will not only cut the acidity of the lemon juice, but help further emulsify everything. This works in the same way adding cold butter to a pan sauce makes it a bit thicker and more homogeneous.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken broth
- Cooked chicken – I made my own broth and cooked chicken in my slow cooker. This is also a good way to use rotisserie chicken, leftover roast chicken, or even poached chicken breasts (you can just poach them in the soup while the rice is cooking if you like).
- Rice – I like using long grain white rice (Basmati) because it cooks so fast. Converted rice is more traditional. Use whatever kind you want, just keep an eye on cooking times for different kinds.
- Onions and Celery – sometimes I add carrots, too. Or you can omit these, especially if you are using a good, flavorful chicken broth base.
- Butter – or ghee or olive oil for a dairy-free version.
- Lemon juice – I like a LOT! You can feel free to use less if you are sensitive to lemon flavor (though the added butter cuts the acidity quite a bit).
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
How to make Avgolemono Soup
- First, sauté celery and onions in butter. I like using my Dutch oven.
- Add chicken broth, bring to a boil.
- Add rice, cover, and simmer until the rice is done.
- Then, add cooked chicken into the soup and let it heat up for a few minutes until everything is hot.
- Now it’s time to make the avgolemono sauce. Add eggs and lemon juice to your blender. Blend together. While the blender is on, very slowly pour in very hot chicken broth. A glass measuring cup with a pour spout is great for this – just zap it in the microwave until it’s boiling hot and then pour it gradually in. Keep the blender going until all the broth is added. The result will be a smooth and foamy avgolemono sauce (see photo below).
- Turn the heat off on the soup. Pour in the avgolemono sauce, while stirring.
- Finally, stir in some pats of cold butter to the soup until they are melted.
- Serve with fresh cracked pepper on top.
Yes! Just use ghee or olive oil instead of butter.
Sure! Use veggie broth instead of chicken broth, and sub out the chicken meat for veggies like spinach or mushrooms, or a plant-based protein like white beans or chickpeas.
Unfortunately, freezing this soup will result in a separated, curdled texture. It’s still delicious though, and I recommend freezing it over tossing out any leftovers you don’t have time to get to!
Heat the soup gently and don’t bring it to a boil. I usually microwave it in a bowl for one minute, stir, and microwave for one minute more. On the stovetop, heat on medium or low and stir frequently, turning off the heat before it comes to a boil.
Other Chicken Soup Recipes
- Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup
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Avgolemono Soup (Greek chicken soup with lemon and egg)
- Dutch Oven or other large pot with lid
- Glass measuring cup or something with a pour spout for heating the chicken broth
- Blender or electric hand mixer / bowl
- 4 tablespoons butter divided (or ghee/olive oil, see notes)
- 2 ribs celery finely diced
- 1 onion finely diced
- 8 cups chicken stock/broth divided
- 1 cup long grain white rice or another kind (see notes)
- 2 cups cooked chicken such as rotisserie
- 5 eggs
- 3/4 cup lemon juice from about 4-5 lemons (more or less if you like – see notes)
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy pot with a lid (such as a Dutch oven). Add the diced celery and onions. Sauté over medium-high heat until softened (about 3 minutes).
- Pour in 6 cups of the chicken broth (reserving the other 2 cups) as well as about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the rice (1 cup). Stir, cover, and simmer on low for 15 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked.
- Add the cooked chicken meat (2 cups) to the pot. Stir, cover, and continue simmering on low for 3-5 minutes, until chicken is heated.
- While chicken is heating, make the avgolemono sauce. Add the eggs (5) and lemon juice (3/4 cup) to your blender. Heat the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth in the microwave in a glass measuring cup until boiling (or on the stovetop in a small pot).
- Turn the blender on the thoroughly mix the eggs and lemon juice. While the blender is running, very gradually pour in the 2 cups of hot chicken broth. Continue blending until all the broth is added. You will end up with a foamy, cream-colored sauce.
- Turn off the heat on the soup. Slowly and gradually add the sauce back into the soup.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of (cold) butter to the pot. Stir until it's melted. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper on top.
- Reheating instructions: When reheating, be sure not to boil. Heat gently, to avoid the eggs curdling. I usually microwave in a bowl for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for 1 more minute.
- Freezing the soup: This soup can be frozen for up to 6 months in an airtight container, BUT the texture will separate a bit and the eggs will curdle. It’s still delicious, and better than tossing any leftovers you don’t get to in time!
- Vegetarian version: Cook the rice and vegetables in vegetable stock, and omit chicken meat. Add other vegetables to make it more hearty, such as mushrooms and spinach, and/or white beans or chickpeas instead of the chicken.
- Dairy free version: use olive oil or ghee instead of butter.
- Any rice can be used. I like using Basmati or another long grain white rice because it only takes 15 minutes to cook. The more traditional choice is converted/parboiled rice. Use any kind you like! I think it would be really good with wild rice for a nutty, interesting flavor.
- I like a lot of lemon juice. I find most avgolemono recipes require only 1 lemon and a couple eggs and that just isn’t enough. Sometimes I’ll use a whole cup of lemon juice for this! The added butter cuts the acidity a lot. If you are sensitive to lemony flavor, feel free to take it down to 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup of juice.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:
This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious on February 5,2014. It has been republished with new photos, improved recipe instructions, and more pertinent information.
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