Learn how to make traditional Greek lemon chicken orzo soup the quick and easy way. This soothing soup is perfect for when someone is feeling under the weather. It’s also a fabulous soup to make if you are hosting a lemon-themed lunch or dinner party. What does avgolemono soup taste like? I think it tastes like comfort in a cup. Whip up a batch of this soup when you want to enjoy some comfort food at its best. Now that I know how easy this soup can be, I’m going to definitely add it to my regular recipe rotation. Ready to learn how to make this recipe for Greek lemon chicken orzo soup? Let’s get started!
Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup: AKA Avgolemono
I first learned of this soup when I was looking for a simple chicken soup recipe. Someone in my household was feeling sick, and I wanted to make something he would find appealing. I also didn’t want to go to the grocery store, so I knew I had to make do with whatever I had on my pantry shelves and in the refrigerator. I had never heard of avgolemono, and I had a terrible time remembering the name at first. Then I saw the word “lemon”, and that helped. What does adding lemon to soup do? Lemon helps bring out the flavor in many foods. You don’t want the lemon to taste bitter, so it’s best added near the end of the cooking time, as in this recipe. What does avgolemono mean in Greek? Basically, it just means a soup or sauce made of chicken broth, lemon juice and eggs. Doesn’t that sound nice and comforting? How do you pronounce chicken avgolemono? You can get some real life examples here. I just love hearing people say the word.
Since I couldn’t go to the store for fear of spreading germs, I did need to make some substitutions. I really wanted to make the best Greek lemon chicken orzo soup ever, but my options for ingredients were limited. The recipe I found called for chopped skinless boneless chicken breasts. I didn’t have that, but I did have a can of cooked chicken breast meat. I didn’t have chicken broth, but I did have chicken bouillon cubes. The final substitution was one of preference. Many people like to make Greek lemon chicken orzo soup with dill. That would have been fine with me, but the person I was making the soup for is not a dill fan. I substituted basil, because lemon and basil go so well together. Thanks to our chickens, getting the eggs for the recipe was no problem. Here is my version of Greek lemon chicken orzo soup with egg. I hope you like it!
Equipment Needed for Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Ingredients for Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups chicken broth (or 6 cubes of chicken bouillon dissolved in 6 cups warm water)
2/3 cup orzo or other tiny pasta
2 12.5-ounce cans chicken breast meat, undrained
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons lemon juice (in this case, the bottled lemon juice was just fine to use)
2 teaspoons dried basil or dill weed(or 2 tablespoons fresh basil, or 2 tablespoons fresh dill weed)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Directions for Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
If you are using bouillon cubes, pour 6 cups warm water into a bowl and add the bouillon cubes to dissolve. (Yes, it’s better and easier to use prepared chicken broth, but if you are in a situation like I was and can’t go to the store, you work with what you have.) In a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth and orzo, then bring to a boil over medium heat.
Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooking time. When the orzo is tender, stir in the chicken and simmer for about 2 minutes until heated through. While the chicken is heating, whisk together eggs and lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the hot broth. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the simmering soup, stirring as you pour. Keep stirring as you cook until soup thickens, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and black pepper. For an added twist, you can garnish each serving with a sprinkle of chopped preserved lemon. Makes 4 servings.
Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 1 4-quart stockpot The stockpot could be larger.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 cups chicken broth or 6 cubes of chicken bouillon dissolved in 6 cups warm water
- ⅔ cup orzo or other tiny pasta
- 2 12.5 ounce can chicken breast meat, undrained
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice in this case, the bottled lemon juice was just fine to use
- 2 teaspoons dried basil or dill weed or 2 tablespoons fresh basil, or 2 tablespoons fresh dill weed
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- If you are using bouillon cubes, pour 6 cups warm water into a bowl and add the bouillon cubes to dissolve.
- In a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
- Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and orzo, then bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooking time.
- When the orzo is tender, stir in the chicken and simmer for about 2 minutes until heated through.
- While the chicken is heating, whisk together eggs and lemon juice in a small bowl.
- Stir in 4 tablespoons of the hot broth. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the simmering soup, stirring as you pour.
- Keep stirring as you cook until soup thickens, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and black pepper.
Common Questions About Greek Avgolemono Soup
Can you freeze soup with orzo in it? You sure can, but sometimes it gets a little mushy. To avoid mushy orzo, you could add all of the other ingredients to this Mediterranean chicken orzo soup, except the orzo. Then add cooked orzo later. This idea only works if you know ahead of time that you are going to freeze the soup. If you end up with a lot of leftover avgolemono soup, it’s fine to freeze it as is with the orzo in it.
Can you use rice instead of orzo in this recipe? Rice may certainly be substituted for the orzo. If you do that, then you will have a gluten-free version of avgolemono. Remember, the word avgolemono only refers to the lemon juice, eggs, and broth. If you made the Greek avgolemono with rice, you could still call it avgolemono. Then you wouldn’t miss out on the fun of saying that marvelous word!
Can you add other vegetables to Greek lemon chicken orzo soup? Of course! You know I am always a fan of adding more vegetables, even if you have to sneak them in. Some of the common vegetable add-ins for avgolemono include chopped carrots and zucchini. You could cook the additional chopped vegetables along with the chopped onion in the recipe. Lemon chicken orzo soup with spinach is another tasty variation.
Can Avgolemono be served chilled? Certainly! On a hot summer day, cold Greek lemon chicken orzo soup would make a lovely chilled addition to any lunch or dinner menu.
How many calories are in a cup of chicken orzo soup? A 2-cup serving of this soup contains 300 calories. If you want to reduce the calorie count, you could omit the chicken and chicken broth, substituting them with some other options listed in the next paragraph about variations.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Variations
I already noted above that when you add rice into the soup instead of orzo, you have gluten-free Greek lemon chicken orzo soup. To make this Greek lemon orzo soup vegetarian, you could use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. The traditional version of avgolemono doesn’t contain chicken, so you could just pack in the vegetables noted in the paragraph above for a hearty, meatless meal. You could always include scarlet runner beans or another legume to add more protein. Adding firm tofu instead of the chicken would work well also.
What Goes Well with Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
This creamy Greek lemon chicken orzo soup goes well with so many side dishes. If you are serving this soup for a lemon-themed lunch, consider serving homemade rolls or cornbread alongside of it. For an outdoor summer lunch, a refreshing berry mandarin tossed salad would be a tasty side dish. For dessert, you could offer a summery blueberry cobbler or rhubarb blueberry coffeecake.
If you are serving Greek avgolemono as part of a lemon-themed dinner party, you could serve the soup chilled in the summer, warm in the winter. Pair the soup with a loaf of crusty bread, then follow it with a main course of lemon roasted chicken. Serve some pre-packaged lemon rice on the side along with a simple tossed green salad. For a light and refreshing dessert, serve some citrusy pea-pickin’ cake. For an Italian lemon themed party twist, serve the classic Italian lemon-flavored sparkling beverage, Limonata.
What Are Your Favorite Things to Serve With Soup?
As I was writing this post, I was thinking about all of the different items people serve with soup. What are some of your favorite soup companions? I think my favorite dippers are freshly-baked, homemade rolls. They are soft, tasty, and are delicious when slathered with butter. I’d enjoy learning about your favorite soup partners as well.
Other Recipes to Warm You Up
Interested in other cozy, comfort food recipes? Try these!
- Easy Cola Chicken Recipe with 4 Simple Ingredients
- Easy French Onion Soup with Sausage in the Slow Cooker
- Raclette: More than Just a Meal, It’s a Fun Family Activity
- Easy Curried Turkey
- Easy Ham and Potato Hash
- Thai Curry Chili
Get Organized with This Lemon-Themed Planner
Love the lemons in this soup? If you are a fan of all things related to lemons, check out this lemony undated monthly planner. Since it’s undated, you can download and print it again and again, year after year. Get lemon-themed inspiration every day when you organize and plan in this eye-catching printable.
More Food Inspiration
It’s always nice to have a plan when it comes to parties and meals. If you’re looking for a way to get more organized with your meal or party-planning efforts, I’ve got something for you. Free, editable meal planners! The templates can be used over and over, as often as you need them. You can make as many duplicates as you like, and you’ll be able to save old meal plans for future reference. I hope it simplifies things for you.
If you would like even more recipe ideas, consider following my Easy Recipes board on Pinterest. Have a fabulous day, and have a good time making Greek lemon chicken orzo soup.
Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to create and share recipes, often using fresh ingredients from her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To get more easy recipes, click on over to the Food page.