Avgolemono is a light and tasty egg and lemon soup that you’ll find in almost every household in Greece. It is silky and smooth, creamy and rich yet has very few ingredients and no cream at all. It’s Greek goodness in a bowl.
Avgolemono means egg and lemon in Greek, avgo for egg and lemono for lemon. Avgolemono can be classed both as a sauce and a soup in Greece.
This is your classic egg-lemon sauce and the Greeks serve it with everything from meatballs to stuffed cabbage leaves, pork chops, chicken, and a whole lot more.
It’s a simple sauce light yet creamy sauce with a real tang of lemon that really brightens up other dishes.
This is the same as the sauce but more liquid and with chicken added. This is the Greek version of that world-famous classic – chicken soup. I have added orzo pasta (rice pasta) to my version but some people use rice instead. Either way, this soup is delicious and according to the Greeks can cure anything from a cold to a broken heart.
I learned how to make this simple egg and lemon soup way back when I worked on the Greek island of Spetses in the 1980s and have been making it ever since.
Ingredients for avgolemono soup
Chicken. I have used a chicken thigh and drumsticks for my soup. If I were making a whole batch I would just use a chicken to make the stock. The stock is so important here.
Parsley and celery will be cooked with the chicken to create the stock along with a bay leaf.
Eggs. Free-range fresh eggs.
Lemon. If you don’t have access to unwaxed lemons then make sure to scrub them well in warm soapy water to remove the wax coating, rinse thoroughly and pat dry before using.
Orzo pasta (aka riso pasta) or you could use rice instead
Feta to finish the soup off and some dill to sprinkle over.
How to make egg-lemon soup Greek style
You want to make that all-important chicken stock first. So boil the chicken along with the parsley (stalks and all), celery and some peppercorns and salt. Then let it simmer covered for about 45 minutes (longer if it’s a whole chicken).
Strain the soup and return the clear stock to the pan. Allow the chicken to cool enough for you to shred the meat from the bones. You won’t be using all the meat in your avgolemono soup only about half of it. Keep the rest for another dish later.
Add the orzo pasta/rice to the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes till the pasta/rice is tender. Remove from heat and add half of the shredded chicken. Keep the remaining chicken for another meal.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the lemon juice and zest till nice and bubbly.
Now take a ladleful of the soup (not the pasta/rice, just the liquid itself) and whisk this into the egg-lemon mixture. Do this again with another ladleful of soup liquid.
What you are doing here is tempering the avgolemono just like you would temper chocolate. You are bringing up the temperature of the egg mixture without actually cooking it and causing it to curdle.
Now slowly add the stock/egg and lemon mixture into the soup pan and stir as you do so. Taste to see if you need any more seasoning or a bit more lemon juice.
If the soup has cooled too much gently warm it on low heat.
How to serve avgolemono soup
I have served my lovely egg and lemon soup with a sprinkling of crumbled Greek feta cheese and just a few fronds of fresh dill. You could use more parsley if you don’t have any dill to hand.
Finally, add a few drops of olive oil and you are ready to enjoy this bowl of gorgeous Greek goodness.
This soup will keep for 2 days in the fridge. To reheat the soup do so over a gentle heat, don’t put it onto a high heat, let it warm up nice and slowly.
You can freeze it but the orzo will soak up some of the soup liquid and become mushy. It will freeze better if you have used rice instead of the orzo pasta.
Looking for more tasty Greek recipes to try? Then take a ramble through my whole Greek Recipe Collection.
And if you are in the mood for more soup recipes, check these out before you go;
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Avgolemono – Greek egg and lemon soup
- soup pan, whisk, large bowl
- 500 g chicken thighs or drumsticks
- 750 ml water
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs parsley including stalks
- 1 stick celery
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1 egg
- 1 lemon use half the zest and all the juice
- 50 g orzo orzo pasta or rice
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp feta crumbled
- 1 tsp dill to serve
- 1 tbsp olive oil to drizzle over soup to serve
- Bring the chickken in water with bay leaf, celery, peppercorns and parsley to boil then lower heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes
- Strain soup through sieve and pour the liquid back into the pan. Shred the chicken meat.
- Add the orzo pasta/rice to the stock and simmer for 15 minutes till tender then add half of the shredded chicken (save the rest for another use)
- In a large bowl whisk the egg and half the lemon juice and all zest and add 1 ladleful of the stock liquid and whisk again then add another ladle of stock and whisk again
- Gently pour this mixture into the soup pan and stir well, reheat gently and season to taste adding the remaining lemon juice if you wish
- Serve the avgolemono with crumbled feta, fresh dill and a few drops of olive oil