Greek Lemon Soup
on Feb 04, 2022, Updated Nov 05, 2023
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This Greek Lemon Soup 🍋 tastes like home to me, because my mom has been making this soup for me since I was a baby. There are so many outstanding versions of this soup, and my family learned this version while living in 🇬🇷 Greece. I love the creaminess that comes from the avgolemono in the soup and the ease with which the simple ingredients come together to create a hearty, one-pot meal that is so healthy. Even those in your family who don’t love veggies will be asking for seconds!
What is Avgolemono?
The creamy part of this soup comes from what we call a classic “avgolemono.” Avgolemono is a family of sauces and soups made with egg yolk and lemon juice mixed with broth, heated until it thickens. If you’re interested in the origin of this word, “avgo” means egg and “lemono” means lemon. So the full word, Avgolemono, translates to ‘egg-lemon,’ which represents the base for the soup. In 🇧🇬 Bulgaria we call this “zastroika”.
Why You’ll Love Greek Lemon Soup
One of my favorite ways to consume vegetables is to blend them into soup broth, as I do in this recipe with 🥕 carrots, celery, 🧅 onion, and 🧄 garlic. This filling, one-pot meal also has rice, chicken, and egg yolks cooked directly in the soup.
This is such a comforting soup and it’s perfect for ❄️ chilly and ☀️ warm weather days alike. The 🍋 lemon adds brightness and freshness and the 🥚 eggs provide richness. This will definitely be your new favorite version of chicken and rice soup.
Another reason to love this soup is that the vegetables are cooked and then blended into the soup. This makes it a great option for those who aren’t fans of vegetables as it allows them to sneak some nutrients into their meal. Overall, it’s a win-win!
How To Prepare Greek Lemon Soup
- Start by adding the water, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and 🧂 salt to a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Once the mixture is boiling, add the skinless 🐔 chicken breasts or thighs, then reduce the heat to medium, maintaining a hard simmer.
- Cover the pot halfway with a lid and allow the soup to cook for approximately 40 minutes.
- Next, transfer the cooked vegetables and a ladleful of broth to a blender while setting the chicken aside on a plate or cutting board.
- Blend the vegetables until smooth and return this mixture to the pot of broth. Use forks or tongs to shred the chicken, keeping it on the side.
- Add 🍚 white rice or orzo to the pot containing the broth and blended veggies. Increase the heat to medium and let it cook for about 20 minutes, tasting for doneness and then removing the soup from the heat.
- Meanwhile, prepare the “avgolemono” or 🥚🍋 egg-lemon sauce. In a bowl, combine egg yolks and the zest and juice of a lemon, and whisk until well blended. Gradually add some of the broth from the soup pot while whisking vigorously; this step is called tempering, which prevents the eggs from breaking or overcooking in the soup.
- Add the egg mixture into the soup pot with the shredded chicken and 🌿 freshly chopped parsley, and it’s ready to enjoy!
When reheating the soup, make sure to do so on medium-low heat while stirring to prevent the eggs from breaking.
Substitutes and Variations
This Greek Lemon Soup lends itself to a number of different add-ins or variations. Let me know in the comments if you try any!
- Substitute the rice or orzo for quinoa, brown rice, or couscous.
- You could use 🥕 vegetable broth instead of 💦 water.
- Feel free to try this recipe with different 🌿 herbs like dill, thyme, or basil for added flavor.
- Try adding other vegetables to your soup, like peas, spinach, or kale.
- For dietary restrictions, this soup can be made egg-free if you have an allergy.
- The soup can be made 🥬 vegetarian by omitting the chicken and swapping half (or all) of the water for unsalted vegetable broth made from my vegetable stock cubes.
- For enhanced flavor, add a chicken bouillon cube (or 1 tablespoon bouillon paste) to the broth along with the rice. Alternatively, you could replace half or all of the water with chicken or vegetable broth.
Best Served With
For a complete and hearty meal, consider serving this easy Greek Lemon Soup with some delicious homemade bread. Here are some of my favorites:
- No-Knead Peasant Bread
- No-Knead Gluten-Free Bread
- Cheesy Roasted Garlic Bread
- Grandma’s No-Knead Olive Bread
- No-Knead Focaccia
Don’t forget to explore other similar soup recipes on my blog if you’re interested in comforting soups.
- Lasagna Soup
- Pastina Soup
- The Best Lentil Soup
- Hidden Veggie Orzo Soup
- Healthy Cream of Broccoli Soup
- Healthiest Cream of Hidden Veggie Soup
- Hidden Veggie Meatball Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
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Start by preheating a thermos with boiling water, and keep it closed. While the thermos warms up, heat the soup on the stove on medium-low heat. This entire process should only take about 10 minutes. Once the thermos is ready, empty the hot water, and add in the soup, leaving some space at the top to prevent a vacuum seal, which would make it harder to open.
I love any broths by Kettle and Fire; you can click HERE and use my code THEMODERNNONNA for 20% off!
Allow the soup to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Then, place it in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
If you have more leftovers than you can consume in a few days, freezing is a great option. First, portion the soup into airtight containers or resealable freezer bags, but be sure there’s some room for expansion to prevent containers from cracking. Then, label the containers with the date. The soup can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy your leftover soup, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight if frozen. To reheat, use a microwave, stovetop, or an oven. Make sure to heat it thoroughly until it’s steaming hot. You may need to add a bit of water or broth to adjust the consistency.
Yes, you certainly can leave the eggs out of this recipe to make it egg-free.
Yes, you can make this soup vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of water.
For enhanced flavor, add a chicken bouillon cube (or 1 tablespoon bouillon paste) to the broth along with the rice. Alternatively, you could replace half or all of the water with chicken or vegetable broth.
Any cut of chicken will work here: bone-in or boneless. Just be sure to remove any chicken skin before cooking. You can also use a whole chicken here; just increase the quantity of liquid and fully submerge the chicken. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat.
Skim off any foam that bubbles up to the top of the soup as the chicken boils.
If you don’t feel confident, you can most definitely use a meat thermometer but I assure you, you don’t need one for this recipe.
I use Redmond Real Salt, please note that depending on the salt you use, your dish may be less or more salty. Salt is always to taste. Always taste and adjust as you cook.
Greek Lemon Soup
- 10 cups water , or unsalted veggie broth
- 1 yellow onion, whole and peeled
- 4 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
- 2 celery ribs , washed and cut in half
- 1 carrot, peeled and whole
- 1 tablespoon salt, to taste
- 2 chicken breast, or thighs
- ½ cup rice , or orzo
- 2 egg yolks
- zest and juice of one lemon
- freshly chopped parsley
- Add the water, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and salt to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the chicken, and reduce the heat to medium. The water should be at a hard simmer. Cover the pot halfway with a lid and let the soup cook for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, remove and transfer the chicken on a plate or cutting board. Using forks or tongs, shred the chicken. Keep the shredded chicken aside.
- Now, transfer the cooked veggies with one full ladle of broth to a blender. Blend the veggies until smooth and return the mixture to the pot of broth.
- Add the washed rice (or orzo) to the pot of broth and blended veggies. Adjust the heat to medium-high and let it cook for about 20 minutes. Taste for doneness and remove the soup from the heat.
- Meanwhile, make the "avgolemono" which is the egg-lemon sauce. In a bowl, add the egg yolks, lemon zest and juice and whisk to blend.
- Slowly add in some of the broth from your soup pot and whisk vigorously. This step is called tempering, which prevents the eggs from breaking and/or overcooking in the soup.
- Add the egg mixture into the soup pot (off the heat) with the shredded chicken, freshly chopped parsley and enjoy!
- Note: When reheating the soup please heat on medium-low as you stir so you don’t break the egg.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.