Avgolemono Soup is a creamy, comforting soup with tender chicken, orzo pasta and a bright lemon flavor. Delicious and incredibly easy!
There’s a fantastic Greek place in a strip mall near my home that serves some killer Greek food. The gyros are to die for and don’t even get me started on the Taramosalata, a dip made of “caviar and blended with lemon and evoo” that has an incredible smooth, dreamy texture. It’s served with soft, warm pita bread that has just a hint of an oily crunch on the ends. I’ve gone the dip sampler route but I always, always come back to the Taramosalata.
And then there’s the Avgolemono Soup. It’s yet another well-made dish at Opa’s that comes out consistently perfect every time. A hot, steaming bowl of creamy, lemony goodness with chunks of chicken and soft orzo pasta, made complete with a few pieces of that warm, soft pita bread I mentioned.
The thing is, I never order it anymore.
Going out to eat is, to me, such a treat that I try to never order anything that isn’t easily recreated at home. Gyro meat is going to be far too much of a pain and my Taramosalata, while likely fairly easy to figure out, is far enough off my beaten path that it’s still more trouble than it’s worth. But Avgolemono Soup – that’s an easy one.
Avgolemono Soup is just a delightful soup in every way. If you’re a chicken soup fan then be prepared to up your game significantly. The chicken broth becomes creamy and rich after eggs are tempered and added to the pot; the tiny orzo soak it up and it becomes much more thick and rich by the next day. I make mine with a homemade broth (don’t let that scare you off, it’s incredibly simple) although you could substitute boxed broth if you must. I do use boxed broth frequently* but this soup just tastes so much better with its own. I use six pounds of split breasts which may seem like a lot but – trust me – your Avgolemono Soup will thank you for it!
*Get yourself in the habit of always buying reduced-sodium broth. If you’re making a dish that requires any type of reduction, the broth will reduce but the sodium does not which could make your dish too salty. Start with reduced-sodium so that you can control the seasoning.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 6 pounds split chicken breasts
- 2 carrots, each cut into 6 pieces
- 1 leek, split (top discarded)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (start with 1/3 cup; add more at the end if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor)
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
- kosher salt, to taste (at least a few teaspoons)
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste (use liberally if desired, the pepper and lemon contrast is wonderful)
- Sweat onions in a medium skillet with the evoo until soft and translucent, about five minutes.
- Meanwhile, place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven. Add water until it's covered by 1 inch. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.
- Remove chicken and set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove meat, discarding the bones. Add carrots, leek, bay leaves, chicken and onions back to pot; simmer another hour (or longer, I've simmered as long as two hours). Remove the carrots and leek (you can eat the carrots or discard).
- Bring to a boil and add orzo pasta. Cook until the orzo is done according to package directions.
- In a small bowl, beat the lemon juice and eggs together. Slowly stir in two cups of the broth, whisking continuously (this is called tempering). Pour the egg mixture back into the pot, stirring well.
- Season to taste (don't skimp on the seasoning!) and serve. The mixture will thicken a lot after sitting overnight in the refrigerator (I like it best after it's thickened but it's delicious both ways).