Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemeno is a Mediterranean sauce and soup, most commonly associated with Greece. As a sauce, it’s often served with Dolma or used as a vegetable dip. But if you ask me, it really shines the most as a mild and comforting soup, and that’s why I’m sharing this recipe with you today. It features egg yolks and lemon juice which enrich and enliven the soup, and some fresh dill brings it all together to give it a distinct and just slightly exotic flavor.

I’m a big fan of taking my time when making recipes. After all, cooking is one of my main sources of relaxation (second only to reading cheesy sci-fi). But I realize that’s not always the case for folks, so I’m trying something new today; below you’ll find a “short version” of the recipe that can be made in 20 minutes, as well as the traditional 2-hour version. Let me know what you think. If you like it, I’ll try to incorporate more variety into my recipe posts (kind of like how I’ve been adding pressure-cooker versions to some recipes).

Avgolemono (Short Version)

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked white rice (warm or cold is fine)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
2 tsp fresh chopped dill (1 tsp dried dill okay)
2 lbs leftover chicken meat, cut into bite-sized chunks
salt and white pepper to taste

1. Bring the broth to a simmer over med/low heat. Add the rice to the stockpot, and simmer until warm, about 2 minutes. If you’d like, use an immersion blender to blend about half of the rice (not necessary, but makes for a creamier soup).

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and lemon juice. Slowly pour 2 cups of the hot soup broth into the mixing bowl, while constantly whisking to incorporate (it helps if you have someone else pour while you whisk). This step tempers the yolk/juice so they don’t separate when you add them to the soup. Slowly whisk the yolk sauce into the soup, then add the dill and chicken. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

** Did you know that white rice freezes really well? We simply cool our leftover rice and wrap it in plastic wrap (sometimes in individual portions), then throw it in the freezer. It reheats perfectly in the microwave, or could be dropped into a tasty chicken soup (hint hint).

For the photos in this post, I used a whole chicken so that I could practice breaking one down (it’s like a meat puzzle) and so I could use the back and neck pieces to make a separate chicken broth. But it doesn’t need to be that intense of a process; buying pre-separated thighs, drumsticks, and/or breasts works just fine, too. Here’s the long version of this soup:

Avgolemono (Long Version)

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

in cheesecloth:
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns

3 lbs bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks, and breasts (or 1 whole chicken, separated)
1 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp white pepper, more to taste
1/2 cup uncooked starchy rice (Arborio or other risotto rices are perfect)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
2 tsp fresh chopped dill (1 tsp dried dill okay)

1. Tie the vegetables in a cheesecloth bouquet and place in a stockpot. Add the chicken pieces, salt and pepper; cover with 1″ water, then bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes, then remove the chicken, cool and pull the meat apart into bite-sized pieces. Cover the meat with damp paper towels as you finish the rest of the dish.

2. Add the rice to the stockpot, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes, then remove and discard the cheesecloth bouquet. If you’d like, use an immersion blender to blend about half of the rice at this point (not necessary, but makes for a creamier soup).

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and lemon juice. Slowly pour 2 cups of the hot soup broth into the mixing bowl, while constantly whisking to incorporate (it helps if you have someone else pour while you whisk). This step tempers the yolk/juice so they don’t separate when you add them to the soup. Slowly whisk the yolk sauce into the soup, then add the dill and reserved chicken. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

** If you happen to have 2 cups of leftover rice, you can definitely use it instead of cooking the rice from scratch.

** I know what you’re thinking, and why yes, you could totally use an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker to make this dish. It’d take about 15 minutes on the “Soup” setting during step #1, then proceed as directed (use the “Saute” button with the Instant Pot uncovered to simmer and tenderize the rice in step #2).

29 thoughts on “Avgolemono Soup

  1. I can’t wait to try this! I worked at a great Greek restaurant for years (before the owner retired) and LOVED his avgolemono, among other things! Now you have me craving avgolemono and spanakopita!

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  2. The soup looks and sounds delightful!
    However, having grown up reading my father’s sci-fi book collection, I’m curious to know what you consider “cheesy sci-fi”?

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    1. Elise, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with the sci-fi reference :) Although truth be told, I only started reading sci-fi a few years ago so I’m playing catchup right now. I’ve stumbled upon some really great work (the Hyperion Cantos in particular was excellent), but some of it is decidedly cheesy (like every Orson Scott Card novel outside of Ender’s Game).

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    1. Monica, brown rice wouldn’t work very well with this recipe since it’d be too fibrous and would result in a grainy texture in the soup. Since white rice blends well when tender, it’s a much better choice for this recipe. I also believe that white rice is superior to brown rice, despite conventional wisdom, due to brown rice’s dramatically increased inorganic arsenic content and the presence of anti-nutrients (a bit more about that here: https://thedomesticman.com/2012/09/11/steamed-basmati-rice/); although I realize that people prefer the taste of brown over white so it’s a matter of personal preferences!

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      1. I agree with you completely. We also prefer white rice. We’ve recently learned my husband can’t eat it and were told brown rice is better for diabetes. I’ll just have to make this one for me and one of your other great recipes for him instead! Thanks!!

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  3. I just whipped up the short version- I subbed cauliflower rice and added a little tapioca starch slurry at the end to give it a bit more body since it was missing starch from the rice. Holy smokes it’s AMAZING!!! Knocked my 3 year old’s socks off. Fantastic recipe!

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  4. I’m interested in trying this. But I’ve been told to stay away from all carbs due to type II diabetes. Can you shed some light on this?

    Thanks,

    Joe

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  5. This is a very interesting dish. I will definitely try it. I’m Korean, and in Korea we have a similar soup called ‘samgyetang’: we stuff sweet rice in the chicken, along with a Korean date, some ginko corns(what do you call these?), a root of ginseng, and a clove of garlic. Then we let it simmer on low heat for two hours or so. We add scalions and a bit of salt and pepper before serving. The difference, I guess, is that our broth isn’t as thick, siince the rice stayed in the chicken during cooking. Will definitely try to make your dish (although I am unable to pronounce it)!

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