Taste the Tang of Greek Lemon Rice Soup (Avgolemono)

Did you know that this lemony Greek soup is all the rage in light-yet-comforting recipes right now?

Vertical image of white bowls filled with a white liquid with spoons and yellow and green garnishes, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

At least, judging from the countless recipes that are out there. And the yummy taste, in my opinion.

Personally, I don’t remember seeing this recipe in past years, even when I was in Greece. Of course, I was in Greece back in my early twenties, at a time when I hated soup. So maybe this doesn’t come as much of a surprise?

At that time, I was much more concerned with finding cheap wine and gyros on warm pita bread with tons of tzatziki sauce that cost less than ten dollars each, so I could afford to continue traveling while I studied abroad.

Let’s just say, I really wish I had sought out soup at that time. It sure would have helped me to stay on budget, because it’s usually pretty darn cheap.

Vertical top-down image of white bowls with a creamy mixture, and a spoon holding above the same mixture, next to napkins, a lemon, and a glass of wine.

I love pulling out this Greek recipe because I usually have all the ingredients I need right in my pantry and fridge. My guess is you do, too.

When it comes to this traditional Greek recipe, there are many variations out there. There are recipes that use fluffy rice, while others use orzo. Some use roasted chicken, and others vary in the amount of egg yolks you use.

In every case, the basic idea is this: a grain is cooked in hot broth, and then a creamy egg mixture is slowly added. This mixture also includes lemon in some form, either rinds or juice or both, so you get a burst of tangy citrus to balance out the creamy richness.

So that’s broth, grain, cream, egg, and lemon… I don’t know about you, but I always have those items on hand in my kitchen. I also just so happen to have 30 minutes to make soup on a nightly basis.

Vertical image of two bowls of light soup and spoons in white bowls with a green and yellow garnish next to white wine glasses.

It’s so funny to me that it took me until I was 30 years old to start enjoying this kind of food. It makes me kind of sad as well, because I think I missed out on a lot of flavor and a lot of cheap meals that I could have made at home, or enjoyed affordably on the road.

This is one of those recipes that is so bright and light, yet totally comforting at the same time. The creaminess from the egg and cream mixture really packs in a satisfying dose of richness, while the lemon rind and fresh juice keep the dish from leaning too far on the heavy side.

Instead, it’s like a bright zing at the beginning and end of every bite, with some creamy goodness in the middle. Perfectly balanced.

It’s truly a unique soup that you will find is ideal for enjoying throughout the cooler months, but it’s one that you can also bust out in the middle of the summer for something comforting and different.

Vertical image of a white bowl with a light cream mixture garnished with green herbs and lemon zest, with a metal spoon dipped into it.

Note that you can make this recipe vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth as listed on the ingredients list below for the recipe. I highly recommend topping it all off with a pinch of fresh lemon zest, and a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley to add some color.

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Horizontal close-up image of a spoon holding soup above a bowl of the same soup with an herb and lemon zest garnish.

Greek Lemon Rice Soup (Avgolemono)


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Greek lemon rice soup, traditionally known as avgolemono, is a creamy recipe with a tangy citrus flavor. And it comes together quickly at home.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 cups broth/stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup basmati or other medium grain rice
  • 8 thin slices lemon peel
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, bring broth to a rolling boil. Add rice and cook until it’s soft, about 20 minutes. Add lemon peel. 
  2. Whisk together egg yolks and cream in a small bowl.
  3. When rice is cooked, lower heat to a simmer (medium-low) and slowly stir in the egg and cream mixture.
  4. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Main Course

Keywords: Greek, lemon, rice, soup, avgolemono

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep Lemon, Separate Eggs, And Measure Remaining Ingredients

Horizontal top-down image of assorted ingredients in glass square and circular bowls, with a large white bowl filled with broth.

Cut 8 thin slices of lemon peel. I used 1 1/2 lemons for this.

Separate the four eggs, reserving the egg yolks and discarding the whites, or saving them for another use like making meringues.

Juice enough lemon juice until you have 3 tablespoons total. I used the 1 1/2 lemons that I I used for the lemon peel slices for this. If you have any left over, see our article on how to properly store citrus for tips.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed.

Step 2 – Cook Rice

Horizontal image of a pot with a light brown liquid and lemon peel.

Place a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the broth and bring it to a boil. Stir in the rice, and keep cooking until it is soft. This will take about 20 minutes.

Does cooking rice seem scary? It’s not! We have an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to cook stovetop rice.

Stir in the lemon peel.

Step 3 – Finish Soup

Horizontal image of a frothy, light yellow liquid in a metal bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream.

Once the rice is cooked, lower the heat to a simmer. Slowly stir in the egg and cream mixture. Turn off the heat.

Horizontal image of a cream mixture sprinkled with black pepper specks in a black pot.

Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Freshly cracked will always be our preference!

Winner Winner, Add Some Chicken to This Dinner

If you want to make this soup a little more hearty, you can do so by throwing in some leftover cooked chicken.

Horizontal image of a bowl of white liquid with a spoon holding a spoonful of the same liquid with a small mound of rice.

You can use shredded or cubed poultry for this. All you have to do is cut it up to your liking, and add it in after the rice is cooked, but before you add the eggs and cream.

I recommend using about 1 cup of cooked chicken, but you can always use more or less, depending on how chunky you like your soup. If you are worried about adding too much, start with 1/2 cup of chicken and go from there.

For more comforting soup recipes, here are a few classics that we love:

Have you ever tried avgolemono before? Tell us in the comments below. And be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you try this version!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on January 5, 2016. Last updated: October 16, 2019 at 20:43 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

12 thoughts on “Taste the Tang of Greek Lemon Rice Soup (Avgolemono)”

  1. Enjoying a lot of soup sounds like the perfect way to begin the year! This sounds really interesting. I haven’t seen soup with egg yolks in it before! Definitely trying your recipe 🙂

    • Yes, the egg yolks thing is weird, right? But you’d never know you’re eating egg yolks when you taste this. It’s like cream of chicken soup without the chicken. And a kick of lemon. I love the kick of lemon! Would love to hear what you think!

    • Hi Lisa, I haven’t tried that, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. Just keep cooking until the rice is done. : )

  2. This sounds really interesting! Would you eat this by itself, or would you serve it with something? I think it would likely be enough for me, but my husband has Crohn’s and eats more food than a teenage boy haha, so I think I’d need to pair it with some sort of protein or something. A salad would be nice, but unfortunately he can’t eat raw vegetables. Crazy digestive diseases…regardless, will definitely try it, sounds like something we’d both like!

    • Hi Kelly! As far as meal-planning goes, you could use this soup as a starter before Greek chicken or a big salad with chicken on it or something else kind of Greek themed. : ) But on another note, tell your husband I relate! I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2005 and took medication for 5 years before meeting Tim (my husband), drastically changing my diet to all real foods, lots of probiotics and only sprouted grains, losing weight in the process (ha!) and going off medication since 2010. If you haven’t already heard of it, The Maker’s Diet is a book written by someone who had Crohn’s and combatted it with diet, and it honestly changed my life. Blessings to you both!

  3. Oh that is so creative! I can smell the zest from behind the screen!
    Can I seriously become your neighbor? Lol
    I like your blog! Keep it up!

  4. The whole family loves this recipe. I use homemade chicken bone broth. It’s a great way to use broth and super quick and easy!

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