Lemon Chicken Soup

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Lemon Chicken Soup – Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It’s rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

Easy Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo Recipe

Lemon chicken soup is both creamy and comforting, but it has a lighter feel thanks to a bright burst of fresh lemon flavor!

Sometimes this soup is called Greek lemon chicken soup, or Avgolemono. I lived in Chicago for a bit when I was younger and remember going to the Greek diners and Greek restaurants in Greektown and enjoying many bowls of soup just like this.

Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

It tastes incredible (and difficult!), but I promise you don’t have to be a Greek chef in order to master this easy lemon chicken soup recipe.

To shave time off the recipe, you’ll use cooked and shredded chicken. My whole roasted chicken or poached chicken recipes are both great for this. I also have a great baked lemon rosemary chicken that will work nicely. Or use any kind of leftover chicken you have on hand or just pick up a store bought rotisserie chicken and shred it.

Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

The creamy broth is made with tempered eggs for a soup that is rich and luscious without being thick or heavy. I used orzo in the recipe but you can also use white rice instead.

This soup is a warm and cozy dish for fall and winter, but bright and fresh enough for spring and summer. Best of all it’s made in one pot and ready in just about 30 minutes!

Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

Ingredients in Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Very common fridge and pantry ingredients are all you’ll for this easy lemon chicken soup recipe including:

  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cloves garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried basil
  • Dry orzo pasta – or dry uncooked white rice* see FAQs below if using rice
  • Cooked shredded chicken – I use shredded boneless skinless chicken breasts but shredded chicken thighs are fine if you like dark meat
  • Chicken broth – low-sodium or regular
  • Egg yolks – at room temperature!
  • Lemon juice
  • Baby spinach
  • Fresh herbs such as fresh dill or fresh parsley, for garnishing
Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

How to Make Lemon Chicken Soup

Let’s make some Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono soup) at home!

  1. To a large Dutch oven, add the olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until softening.
  2. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, dried basil, and saute for another minute.
  3. Add the orzo, chicken, broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 mins or until orzo is al dente.

How To Temper Eggs

  1. While the soup is simmering, temper the eggs by adding the egg yolks and lemon juice to a medium bowl, whisk well, remove a ladle of the hot soup broth from your simmering pot, and add it very slowly to the egg yolks, while whisking constantly the whole time.
  2. Repeat with another ladle of broth, add it to the bowl, and whisk constantly the whole time. Now you have tempered eggs!
  3. Slowly add the tempered egg and lemon mixture into the main soup pot while stirring constantly until smooth and creamy.
  1. Turn off the heat, add the spinach, allow it to wilt, taste for seasoning balance, garnish, and serve the soup!

Why Temper Eggs?

Adding the hot broth to the eggs in a separate bowl tempers the eggs. This heats up the eggs in a slow and controlled manner, which makes them thick and creamy, and ultimately makes the soup thicker and creamier, without the need for actually adding cream.

If you skip tempering the eggs and just add them straight to the soup, they will heat up too quickly and scramble and you’ll have bits of scrambled eggs floating in the broth. Yikes no, because you’d have to start over!

Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

what to serve with chicken lemon soup

Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

Storage

In the Refrigerator: This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

In the Freezer: This recipe will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: I use my microwave for quickness and ease and reheat my leftovers for about 30 seconds on high, or as needed. But you can use your stove, whatever is best suited for you.

Note that the pasta (orzo) may soak up more of the broth during storage, so you may need to add a bit more of chicken broth when reheating to thin out the soup.

Lemon Chicken Soup - Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup FAQs

how and why do I temper eggs?

You temper eggs by slowing adding hot broth into a bowl with egg yolks and then ultimately adding this egg mixture back into the main soup pot. Read either above for my synopsis, or read the recipe card for very detailed instructions. Tempering eggs makes the soup rich, thick, and creamy without adding cream.

do i have to add tempered eggs to the soup?

For this Greek lemon chicken soup recipe, yes you do. If you want to make a lemon soup that doesn’t use tempered eggs, I have a Lemon and White Bean Soup recipe that’s lovely!

why don’t you use the whole egg?

Egg whites are more prone to scrambling than yolks, plus they don’t add much in the way of a creamy factor, so I don’t use them.

what should i do with the extra egg whites?

You can discard them but I save them for an egg white scramble or omelette. Or if you’re feeling really ambitious, I have a Perfect White Layer Cake that’ll help take those egg whites off your hands!

can I use rice instead of orzo?

Yes you can. However, rice is a grain whereas orzo is actually short pasta. Grains take longer to cook than pasta. Therefore, if you choose to use rice and make a chicken lemon rice soup, it will take longer to cook, so you will need to let the soup simmer for 15-20 minutes, instead of approximately 10-12 minutes.

how lemony is this lemon soup?

For me, it’s just the perfect amount of bright lemon flavor without causing you to pucker up. For best results, use a nice sized fresh lemon and juice it. If you feel at the end of the recipe you want more intense lemon flavor, add the juice of another half or whole lemon. Or some lemon zest grated in will also do the truck.

do i have to add chicken?

If you don’t have chicken on hand, don’t want to run to the store for a rotisserie chicken, or simply want to keep this recipe vegetarian, you can omit the chicken. However, in place of the chicken, I would add extra veggies (carrots and celery), extra spinach, or even incorporate a few other types of veggies such as zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, or something to bulk it up a bit.

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5 from 7 votes

Lemon Chicken Soup

Learn to make this EASY Greek lemon chicken soup (avgolemono) at home! Made in one bowl and ready in just about 30 minutes, this creamy and comforting soup can be made with either orzo or rice. It's rich and luscious without being thick or heavy thanks to the burst of lovely fresh lemon flavor!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
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Equipment

Ingredients  

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta, or dry uncooked white rice* (See Note in step 4 about simmering time if using rice)
  • 1 pound cooked and shredded chicken, about 3 cups loosely packed shredded chicken
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 4 ounces fresh baby spinach, a few large handfuls
  • 3 tablespoons fresh herbs such as fresh dill, fresh parsley, etc., optional and to taste

Instructions 

  • To a large Dutch oven or soup pot, add the olive oil, onions, carrot, celery, and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir frequently.
  • Add the garlic, salt, pepper, dried basil, and saute for 1 minute. Stir continuously.
  • Add the orzo (or rice), shredded chicken, chicken broth (I use reduced sodium chicken broth and add more salt later but you can use regular broth), bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer over medium to medium-low heat for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until orzo is cooked al dente. Note – If you're using rice (a grain) rather than orzo (short pasta), you'll need to simmer for about 20 minutes since rice takes much longer to cook through than orzo.
  • While the soup is simmering, in a separate medium bowl add the 3 egg yolks (you can either discard the whites, save them for scrambled egg whites, an omelette or make the white cake I linked in the blog post), the lemon juice, and whisk very well to combine.
  • Now you will temper the egg yolk mixture by removing one ladle-full of the hot broth from the soup pot, and very slowly, add it to the egg mixture, while whisking constantly and vigorously. Repeat this process with a second ladle-full of broth. Now you have tempered eggs. Tip – The reason for tempering is that if you added the egg yolks directly to the hot pot of bubbling soup, you'd scramble the eggs and end up with egg drop soup with chunky bits of eggs floating which is not the goal here and you'd have to start over. So don't skip the quick step of tempering the eggs!
  • Slowly add the tempered egg yolk mixture into the main pot of soup, while whisking the entire time. Continue to whisk until smooth and combined.
  • Turn off the heat, add the spinach, and stir to combine until it wilts.
  • Taste the soup to check for seasoning balance. Flavor Tips – If the soup tastes at all flat, boring, or like it's missing something, it likely needs more salt, so don't be afraid to add it. Because I use reduce sodium broth, I add a total of about 3 teaspoons of salt. Don't be afraid to add salt so that the soup tastes like it should which is well balanced. If you like a more lemony flavor, add extra lemon juice or a bit of lemon zest.
  • Garnish the soup with fresh herbs including fresh dill, parsley, or as desired and serve. Extra soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat gently in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds, or as desired. Note about Broth Levels – As the soup sits in the fridge, the orzo or rice will likely soak up some of the broth so if the overall broth level looks a bit low when you take your leftovers out of the fridge, that's why and it's completely normal. If desired, add additional broth when you're reheating the soup.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 317kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 160mg, Sodium: 1651mg, Potassium: 553mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 7061IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 81mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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5 from 7 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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  1. 5 stars
    This soup is absolutely delicious. I made it per the recipe but did add a small can of mushrooms per my husbands request and used rice instead of orzo. Of all the soups I’ve made we both agree this one is the best. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Dorothy, and I am so glad to hear this was one of your best ever soups that you’ve made! The mushrooms sound like a nice touch!