Avgolemono Chicken Soup with Rice

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If ever there were a soup to banish the winter blues, it’s avgolemono, the classic Greek soup made with lemon and eggs.

One of my favorite Greek dishes is avgolemono, the classic egg and lemon soup with chicken and rice. It’s comforting yet light and easy enough to whip up on a busy weeknight. The only “cheffy” part of making avgolemono soup is tempering the eggs, which help to thicken the broth to a silky consistency. You need to gradually warm the eggs with some of the hot broth before adding them to the soup so that they don’t scramble (you don’t want egg drop soup!). I make the process easy by whizzing the eggs and lemon juice with some of the rice and broth in a blender; this tempers the eggs and creates a creamy, stable base that never curdles. Before serving, I like to add a splash of heavy cream to the soup – it’s not traditional but I think it balances the tanginess of the lemon. It’s fine to leave it out if you’d like to make the soup a bit lighter and/or more lemony.

What You’ll Need to Make Avgolemono

Avgolemono soup ingredients

Step-by-step Instructions

Place the chicken on a plate and season all over with the salt. Let sit for 15 minutes.
salting the chicken
Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring the broth, rice, white pepper, dill sprigs, and bay leaf to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is al dente, about 5 minutes. bringing the chicken broth and rice to a boil

Remove the pot from the heat and add the chicken.

adding the chicken to the broth

Cover and let sit until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

poached chicken

Discard the dill sprigs and bay leaf. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, let cool slightly, then chop into bite-sized pieces.

chopping the poached chicken

Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 3/4 cup of the rice to a blender. Add the lemon juice, eggs, and yolks to the blender as well.

rice, eggs, and lemon juice in blender

Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.

blended egg, lemon, and rice mixture

Using a soup ladle, transfer about 3/4 cup of the broth to the blender and process until smooth, 10 seconds (be sure to leave the hole in the lid open and cover with a kitchen towel to allow the steam to escape). Add another ladleful of broth to the blender and process again.

egg, lemon, and rice mixture with some broth blended in

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot, stirring until evenly combined. Add the cream and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Do not boil. (The soup will be a bit frothy at this point; don’t worry, the froth will settle as it simmers.) Taste the rice to see if it’s cooked through. If it needs a few more minutes, gently simmer the soup until the rice is cooked.

stirring the blended mixture into the broth

Right before serving, stir in the chopped dill and the chicken, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. If the soup is too lemony, add more cream. If the soup is too thick, thin it with a bit of water. adding the poached chicken to the avgolemono soup before serving

Serve immediately, as the soup thickens up quite a bit as it sits.

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Avgolemono Chicken Soup with Rice

If ever there were a soup to banish the winter blues, it’s avgolemono, the classic Greek soup made with lemon and eggs.

Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill, plus 2 teaspoons chopped (see note)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 2 lemons
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus a bit more if necessary (optional; see note)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken on a plate and season all over with the salt. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring the broth, rice, white pepper, dill sprigs, and bay leaf to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is al dente, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the chicken, cover, and let sit until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  3. Discard the dill sprigs and bay leaf. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, let cool slightly, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 3/4 cup of the rice to a blender. Add the lemon juice, eggs, and yolks to the blender and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Using a soup ladle, transfer about 3/4 cup of the broth to the blender and process until smooth, 10 seconds (be sure to leave the hole in the lid open and cover with a kitchen towel to allow the steam to escape). Add another ladleful of broth to the blender and process again.
  5. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot, stirring until evenly combined. Add the cream and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Do not boil. (The soup will be a bit frothy at this point; don’t worry, the froth will settle as it simmers.) Taste the rice to see if it’s cooked through. If it needs a few more minutes, gently simmer the soup until the rice is cooked. Right before serving, stir in the chopped dill and the chicken, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. If the soup is too lemony, add more cream. If the soup is too thick, thin it with a bit of water. Serve immediately, as the soup thickens up quite a bit as it sits.
  6. Note: A sprig of dill is one “branch.”
  7. Note: Heavy cream is not traditionally added to avgolemono soup, but I like how it balances the tanginess of the lemon. It's fine to omit it if you'd like to make the soup a bit lighter and/or more lemony.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 428
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 1,048 mg
  • Cholesterol: 191 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Great soup! Just made it. Can this be frozen?

    • — Mary Simone on January 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend freezing it — sorry (but glad you liked it)!

      • — Jenn on January 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • I loved making this soup and the steps to the recipe were clear and easy to follow.

    In the past, the eggs would always curdle when I attempted to make yia yia soup (greek for grandma).

    Thank you for sharing 😋😋 💙💙

    • — Lynette on January 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn, so delicious. Perfect for a cold winter day. Made it exactly as is and enjoyed the cream, although not typical. Added a bit more lemon.

    • — Jeannine on January 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • This soup really hit the spot on one of the coldest days this winter (so far). I made it exactly according to the recipe, except for two small details: I used an immersion blender instead of a regular blender, to make clean-up easier, and I also used boneless chicken thighs because that’s what I had handy, and put them in the water with the rice since thighs seem to need a little more time to cook than breasts.
    The proportions were perfect; no adjustments were needed. We served with warm bread and butter last night, and I’m making Naan for an accompaniment tonight.

    • — Eleanor Wilson on January 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Been making a lot of lemon pasta lately and decided to try this instead. Was just OK. Feel like it is missing something but can’t put my finger on it. Followed the directions exactly. Maybe it will be better tomorrow after all the flavors meld.

    • — Dina on January 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Update to say I enjoyed the soup better on day two!

      • — Dina on January 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • Another wonderful recipe! This was easy and delicious
    We love lemon zing flavors. You’re recipes are hands down the best. I am a huge fan!

    • — Melanie Smith on January 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this over the weekend and it was simply amazing. My family loved it. We are big fans of lemon chicken and chicken picatta, and this was a little bit like the soup version of those dishes.
    I followed the directions carefully, but for some reason the chicken tenderloin did not cook in the soup broth all the way, so I quickly sautéed it to finish the cooking process before adding it back to the soup. I’m not sure what I did wrong but it ended up great nonetheless.
    Despite the fact that I’m unsure of its pronunciation, this is definitely a new family favorite.

    • — Kristin in NH on January 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made this today for dinner (not following the instructions to eat immediately 😉), and it is delicious!! As a good Greek girl, we love our avgolemeno soup, but it can be a pain to make when you have to boil a whole chicken. This was super simple! Plus, I loved the addition of the cream—even though it’s not traditional. I did add extra lemon because I love the brightness and tanginess. Another winner, thanks Jenn!!

    • — Alex S. on January 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • So happy you added this recipe. I love avgolemono soup, and cannot wait to try it!

    • — PaulainVA on January 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this tonight and it was sooo good- I sent my mom the recipe right away! I don’t like the taste of dill so I replaced it with some fresh basil and dried oregano (no idea if that was very greek of me, but it was delicious) and used whole milk since I didn’t have cream. Comfort in a bowl! Never would have thought to make something like this, but trusted if you had a version on it, it must be great!

    • — Hanine on January 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was a huge success! This is definitely going In The ‘impress without a lot of work’ file. And so good….

    • — M Reidy on January 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight to go with some chicken souvlaki and it was a hit! Super easy to make – I love how the chicken cooks off the heat, and the tempering of the eggs in the blender assured that the eggs didn’t clump up in the soup. The lemon and dill made the soup bright yet overall it was rich and comforting. Next time I will try without the cream just to compare.

    • — Sheri on January 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn,

    Made this last night, to many compliments.

    Didn’t use cream, and didn’t miss it.

    I used 4 whole eggs, rather than the 2_whole_plus_2_yolks. Whenever I separate eggs, immediately upon refrigerating, they grow a sign that says “keep for 7 days, then throw out”.

    Curious, what did I sacrifice by using all whole eggs?

    Thanks,
    Joe

    • — JoeW on January 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad everyone enjoyed it, Joe! Using egg yolks makes the soup taste a bit richer, but many avgolemono recipes do call for whole eggs.

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is the perfect post-Christmas winter soup. Light but satisfying.

    • — Stella on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • A big bowl of creamy deliciousness! All the flavors were beautifully balanced, creamy but not thick, lemony but not tart. I didn’t have fresh dill so used dried, gave the soup a dash of dilly delight!

    • — Carolynn Van Namen on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Surprised—this is the first such recipe with neither onions or garlic. Has it been tried and abandoned?

    • — John on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi John, I was trying to keep this recipe as simple as possible and didn’t think it needed onions/garlic for flavor. Feel free to saute some and add them to the broth if you’d like. Hope you enjoy if you make it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • Do you think this would work with brown rice? I made a version of this soup one time and we really enjoyed it. I like your methods better than the recipe I tried. But we are trying a low carb diet so wonder if brown rice would work?

    • — Lisa Baker on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Oh sorry! I just saw your response to this same question already!

      • — Lisa Baker on January 15, 2021
      • Reply
    • Hey there… I’m Greek and this is by far one of the best and easy food you can prepare… BUT… for God’s shake… DON’T USE CREAM or MILK… this is not in the recipe.
      – Just boil the chicken… (either a whole chicken or some parts of it) Place it in a large pot and cover it with water.
      – remove any foam from the top of the water while it is boiling
      – remove the chicken once it is ready and keep the broth
      – add some rice (not basmati or anything exotic… Just long grain rice)
      – you can add a couple of carrots and one potato too aif you want
      – mix 2 eggs (or one) in a bowl with the juice of one lemon, with some salt and some black pepper… USING A HAND BLENDER
      – When the rice is ready remove it from the fire and add the broth slowly inside the egg and lemon mix… Add as much as you can… Slowly .. Really slowly (we don’t want to make the eggs look like an omelet) and don’t stop using the hand blender all the time…
      Once you have finished return the mixed up broth back to the pot (away from the fire)
      YOU ARE READY..
      you can either serve it as it is or you can just add some chicken and the carrots inside the dish. Sprinkle some fresh pepper and it is done. Enjoy…
      DON’T USE CREAM OR MILK… PLEASE!!!!

      • — Vasilis on January 16, 2021
      • Reply
      • Loved the twist on this recipe both the process and addition of cream. Just the right balance of lemon. Didn’t have fresh dill but dried worked in a pinch. Yum

        • — Mary on January 16, 2021
        • Reply
      • This comment is so rude. She purposely states that it’s not traditional to add the heavy cream and you can omit it if you’d like. If you don’t want to make this version of the recipe, then don’t.

        • — Meaghan on January 16, 2021
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I’m Greek so avgolemono chicken soup is on the table almost once a week during winter. We usually boil the whole chicken and then add the rice to the broth but your version is much quicker. If you love avgolemono you should definitely try youvarlakia soup which is a kind of meatball soup with avgolemono! So glad you introduce us with food from all over the world!

    • — Vivi on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • That sounds delicious, Vivi. I will try it!

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • How would you make this soup using an immersion blender? Any advice?

    • — NSales on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Unfortunately, this recipe won’t work with an immersion blender — sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2021
      • Reply
    • I just did that. Very easy. I used the tall 1-qt container that came with my blender, and had no splash problems at all.

      • — Eleanor Wilson on January 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • I have enjoyed my Armenian grandmother’s similar version of this soup for almost 50 years.. Her soup would always thicken a bit too much . I found that cooking the rice separately and then adding it to the broth worked much better . Cooking the rice in the same broth deposits too much starch.

    • — Peggy Fredendall on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Peggy, I considered cooking the rice separately but wanted to keep the dishwashing to a minimum. 🙂 I got around the starchy issue by using less rice than what is typically called for. You can definitely cook the rice separately; it’s an especially good option if you’d to make this soup ahead (in which case you would add the rice that isn’t blended into the egg/lemon mixture at the last minute before serving).

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • What is the delicious looking bread that it’s served with – pita bread?

    • — Gina on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Gina, Yes it’s homemade pita bread. I was hoping to share a recipe for that this week as well, but I gave up after trying many recipes that didn’t really work — it’s very tricky to get pita to puff up reliably in a home oven.

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Love this soup. So tasty! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Will definitely make again 😋

    • — Janet on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have some leftover rotisserie chicken that I’m trying to find good use for it. Do you think I could just add cooked chicken instead of the chicken tenderloins? If not, I’ll defrosts some chicken breasts I have in my freezer and try it this weekend since it sounds really delicious although I have never tried such a soup. Thanks

    • — Nancy A on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Nancy – just skip the step of poaching the chicken off the heat and simmer the rice until it’s cooked through.

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • This looks delicious! Is there a way to prepare it in advance so it will hold for 2-3 days without thickening up too much?

    • — Joanna on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Joanna, Yes, I would cook the rice separately according to the package instructions. You can blend the 3/4 cup of cooked rice into the egg/lemon mixture in the blender (before adding the hot broth) and stir the blended mixture back into the pot (so the base of the soup will be done); then just wait to add the remaining rice and chicken to the soup until right before serving. If the soup seems a little thick upon reheating, you can thin it with a little more broth or water. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can I use half and half in lieu of heavy cream?

    • — Susan B on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Susan – that should work or you can just leave it out.

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • Would this work with long-grain brown rice as well? (I’m guessing it would just take lots longer to reach the “al dente” point.)

    • — JA Traveller on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi JA, Yes and I agree on the cook time. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hey Jenn,
    First, I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your recipes and your cookbook! You are my go to all of the time (and have been since I discovered you several years ago) because I know whatever recipe I use will be great. All of our special holiday meals with family always has at least one Once Upon a Chef recipe. Thank you for sharing your expertise and love of cooking! I have a quick question. What could I substitute to use to make this soup if I don’t have a blender? I do have a mini Cusinart processer. Would that work or would it be better to blend in by hand?

    • — Mary on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, Your mini Cuisinart should work fine, although you will probably not have room to blend in the hot broth. I would transfer the blended egg/rice/lemon mixture to a bowl and slowly whisk in the broth (don’t add it too fast or the egg mixture may curdle) before adding the mixture back to the soup. Hope that helps, and so glad you enjoy the recipes!

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I’m so excited to try this. How do you think it would freeze?

    • — Jay on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jay, I don’t recommend freezing this soup. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is my children’s favorite soup. I have been making this for years. Excellent recipe. I make this slightly different by omitting the bay leaf and dill. And using the zest and juice of 1-2lemon. Adding carrots and onion and using orzo instead of rice. I keep the orzo separate so it stays al dente.

    • — Mary McCarty on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have been making the soup for years. My grandmother taught me, we use plain yougurt and dry mint leaves. In Aremenia the word for yougert is MATZOON Soup. Whenever my kids were not feeling well I made them this soup.

    • — Eileen on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn

    Sounds Great, but what could I use instead of heavy cream?
    Any suggestions?

    • — Karen on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Karen, You can just leave it out; most avgolemono soups don’t call for it.

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2021
      • Reply

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