Chicken Soup Avgolemono is perhaps the most iconic of all Greek soups. It is on the menu at every Greek restaurant or diner and you’ll find it as the first course at most Greek holiday celebrations. Egg acts as a thickener to this chicken soup with orzo which is brightened with the addition of lemon zest and juice.
If you like your soup very thick, you can add two tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in a bit of warm water to the broth before adding the egg-lemon mixture.
Avgolemono is also used as a sauce, often the accompaniment for grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat.
- 1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 lbs., with excess fat trimmed and breast skin removed
- 12 cups water
- 2 carrots, cut in half
- 2 celery stalks, cut in half
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 2 tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta, or rice
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
- Juice of two lemons, strained
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Add first eight ingredients to a large stockpot. Bring to a rapid boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer partially covered for approximately an hour to an hour and a half.
- Remove the chicken and vegetables to a bowl and carefully strain the broth through a fine sieve into a separate large bowl. Return the strained broth to the stockpot and bring to a boil.
- Add the orzo pasta and cook, uncovered, for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until tender.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the egg-lemon mixture. Using a whisk beat the eggs until nice and frothy in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a steady stream while continuing to whisk.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, turn off the heat. Ladle about 2 cups of broth into a bowl or large measuring cup. Slowly add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture while continuing to whisk. This will temper the eggs and prevent them from curdling once they are added to the hot broth.
- Stir the egg-lemon mixture into the pot and heat over very low heat for approximately 5 to 10 minutes until heated through. Be careful not to boil the soup once the eggs have been added.
- Adjust your seasoning for salt and pepper.
- Traditionally, this soup is served without the chicken meat or vegetables. You can add them back or serve on the side as you prefer.