Homemade Greek Avgolemono: Lemon, Rice, and Chicken Soup Recipe
My grandfather was born in Crete, Greece, in the late 1800s and came to the U.S. as a teenager in the early 1900s. While other immigrants came to Pennsylvania during that time period to work in the coal mines, he never worked in them—he found his own American dream by owning several restaurants during his lifetime.
Having a Greek grandfather and a grandmother that was born to Polish immigrants, we had quite a variety of unique recipes served when we visited them. Some of them my brothers and I especially liked—like this soup, which we grew up calling lemon soup, but is correctly called avgolemono (or αυγολέμονο in Greek). It is a traditional Greek "soupa," often served by mothers and yia yias (grandmothers).
This delicious, low-calorie, unique, and authentic Greek chicken soup can be served as an appetizer, as a main meal, or as a side to a sandwich.
There are many different variations of this recipe, but my grandfather's version was very simple: only 4 ingredients.
Whether you like it tart, as I do, or with a more mild lemon flavor, you can tweak this recipe to your own liking with the suggestions shared below.
- 8 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
- 2-3 large eggs (see note below)
- 1-3 medium lemons (see note below)
- Dash salt and white pepper (optional)
Notes About Quantities
- Rice: The 1/2 cup of rice is a guideline. Personally, I like to use closer to 3/4 cup to be a bit more filling. The starches in the rice, however, will thicken the soup quite a bit if you refrigerate extras for another meal.
- Lemon and egg: Depending on how much you like lemony flavors, use the following guide below for quantities of lemon and eggs.
Lemon Flavor Guidelines
Mild Lemony Taste
Slightly Tart Lemony Taste
Very Lemony Taste
Why You Need to Temper the Eggs
If you take slightly beaten eggs and add it to heat, what do you get? You get scrambled eggs! Since we don't want bits of cooked egg in our soup, we temper the eggs by gradually adding a little of the hot broth at a time and incorporate it into the egg mixture, thereby raising the temperature of the eggs and cooking them in a more smooth mixture. The result in this recipe is a creamy lemony froth that makes the soup what it is!
- Pour the broth into a large saucepan. Add in rice. Heat over medium heat until rice is cooked (about 30 minutes). When the rice is cooked, lower the heat to low.
- While the rice is cooking, roll the lemons under the palm of your hand while gently pressing downward. This will help make the lemons easier to juice.
- Slice the lemons in half. Using a citrus juicer, juice the lemons.
- After the rice has cooked and the temperature reduced to low, crack and add the eggs to the blender. Pour in the lemon juice in the blender, too. Blend until thoroughly mixed.
- Before adding the lemon and egg mixture to the soup, the egg mixture must be tempered. Using a ladle, get a ladle full of broth (no rice) and add to the egg-lemon mixture. Place the lid on it and blend for about 5 seconds. Add a second ladle of broth and add to the egg-lemon mixture and blend for 5 more seconds. Continue repeating this for a total of 5-6 times. The mixture in the blender will be frothy.
- Now that the mixture is tempered, slowly pour into the pot of soup, gently stirring. The soup will have a frothy layer on the top. Spoon into a bowl and enjoy!