Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Avoglemono) is made with chicken and rice that have been cooked in a delicate broth until tender, then finished off with what is the real hero of the dish; the egg-lemon sauce. It’s the egg-lemon sauce that gives this soup its classic creamy texture and tangy flavour.
Egg-lemon sauce is a hugely versatile sauce that features in a number of Greek dishes to give them that unique lemony flavour. Cabbage rolls and Lamb Fricassee are just two other meals where egg-lemon sauce adds its magic, and I can’t wait to post those recipes too.
Making egg-lemon sauce is very easy, but you must pay attention to the finer details to avoid ending up with scrambled eggs. Through lots of practice and invaluable tips from my auntie Soula (yes, there’s an auntie Soula in almost every Greek family), l can make an egg-lemon sauce successfully and with ease every time … no lumpy, eggy bits.
Important tips for making a fantastic egg-lemon sauce.
- The eggs must be at room temperature. Cold eggs and warm broth is not a good combination.
- Once the rice is cooked, remove the pot from the stove and allow the broth to cool for 20 minutes before adding the egg-lemon mixture. Hot soup will curdle the egg whites.
- Add the cooled broth to the egg-lemon mixture in a thin, slow stream, while whisking vigorously.
- Always gently reheat the soup.
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup doesn’t need to be served piping hot to be enjoyed. Warm or even room temperature is just right!
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6
- 1 kg / 2 lbs or roughly 4 chicken thigh fillets, bone in and skin removed (note 1)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1.5 litres / 3 pints water
- 1 tbsp butter (note 2)
- 3/4 cup medium grain rice (note 3)
- 1 1 /2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp white pepper
- Optional: cracked pepper
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups of cooled broth
- Place chicken thighs, onion, sprigs of thyme, butter, salt and pepper in a medium – large pot. Fill with cold water until the chicken is barely covered. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to moderate – low. Cook for 20 minutes. Skim any froth that may rise to the surface (there won’t be much). Remove one thigh from the pot. Insert a skewer into the thickest part. If juices run clear, then it’s cooked.
- Remove chicken thighs from the pot. Place in a bowl and set aside. Strain the liquid into large bowl. Discard the onion and thyme. Wipe the pot clean to remove any residual froth or scum that has adhered to the sides.
- Return the broth to the pot. Bring to the boil. Add the rice. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
- Remove pot from the stove and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, shred the chicken using either your fingers or two forks (see photo). Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Place the eggs in a medium bowl and beat lightly.
- Add the lemon juice, a little at a time, whisking continuously.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of cooled broth to the egg-lemon mixture in a very slow stream, whisking continuously.
- Pour the egg-lemon sauce into the soup, stirring constantly.
- Add the shredded chicken. Stir.
- Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Ladle into bowls, making sure you have ample chicken and rice in each serving. Sprinkle with cracked pepper if desired.
- Removing the skin reduces the amount of froth or scum that develops. If you prefer to keep the skin on, you won’t need to add butter.
- A great tip from my Greek aunt is to add butter. This replaces any flavour that is lost by removing the chicken skin.
- Traditionally, we use short or medium grain rice. You don’t get the same ‘feel’ for the soup using long grain rice; best leave the long grain for a curry.