Years ago my friend Barb made Greek Avgolemona Soup for me and I haven’t stopped thinking about this simple lemony chicken and rice soup since. Somehow she never got around to giving me her recipe, and so I was finally forced to make it on my own. If she’s reading, maybe she will send me her recipe and we can compare the two ;) If you love lemon like I do, you need to give this a try.
Chicken broth thickened with eggs and flavored with lemon is a Mediterranean concept, so good that everybody got in on the action in some way or another…there are versions of it in Greece, Turkey, and Italy, as well as in Arabic and Jewish cuisines. The texture and flavor of the soup is incredible, it’s silky and lightly creamy (although there’s no dairy whatsoever) with a pronounced lemon tang.
My recipe is cobbled together from a bunch of sources. I take what I like from each one until I’ve got all the components…not too many eggs, extra lemon, no celery, rice not orzo…Of course traditionally this soup starts by boiling a chicken and creating your own broth. I used a cooked rotisserie chicken and broth from the market without sacrificing the flavor of this wonderful soup.
- about 2 cups leftover cooked rice or orzo pasta
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups cooked white meat chicken, cut in chunks
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- about 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- salt and fresh pepper
- snipped chives or parsley
- Heat the stock and water in a large soup pot to simmering. Add in the chicken meat and simmer for a few minutes. Take it off the heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the 3 eggs and the lemon juice together, make sure they are well incorporated and the eggs are completely broken up.
- Slowly pour one ladle of the hot broth into the egg mixture, whisking all the while. Add another in slowly, and then a third. You are tempering the eggs so they don’t curdle when you add them to the hot broth in the soup pot.
- Then, slowly, drizzle in the lemon egg mixture back into the broth, whisking constantly. (If you are good at that pat the head and rub the tummy trick, you’ll do fine with this…)
- The soup will turn a cloudy creamy color. Put the pan back on the burner and heat gently until it thickens slightly but doesn’t boil. Don’t stop whisking or stirring. This will only take a few minutes, and don’t wait for it to get super thick, it won’t. It just has a nice full bodied texture.
- I like to put the rice in the individual bowls first, and then top with the hot soup. This way the rice doesn’t absorb too much of the broth and get soggy. Add the parsley or chives, check the seasonings, and serve right away. Be sure you salt the soup sufficiently, and add more lemon if you want to.
- Serve garnished with snipped chives or parsley.
The minute you add the egg and lemon mixture to the hot broth you get a wonderful creamy emulsion. The soup can be reheated successfully as long as you do it gently and don’t bring it to a full boil.
This soup is a perfect way to bring a little Mediterranean sunshine into the darker months…The dish can be delicate, or hearty, depending on how much chicken and rice you add. I think this would be ideal for any members of the family who are under the weather.
*This recipe was originally published in 2011 and has been updated