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Avgolemono soup (Greek lemon chicken soup) with orzo and spinach is as quick and easy as it is nourishing and comforting. Here’s how to make this creamy, dreamy one-pot meal.

avgolemono soup with orzo (greek lemon chicken soup with orzo) and spinach in a bowl with a spoon
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Why we love this recipe & why it works

Pretty much all the time, I’m grateful for the high number of chicken soup types in the world. Chicken noodle. Matzo Ball. Tom Yum Kai. Don’t even get me started. Avgolemono soup is a lemony, light yet creamy Greek variation that uses a couple of basic culinary techniques to create a recipe far greater than the sum of its humble parts.

In this recipe we:

  • Start with cooked chicken — though you can easily poach the chicken right in the broth as a first step if you prefer
  • Swap in my fave orzo pasta for the more traditional rice, for an even silkier texture
  • Add plenty of delicate baby spinach to the mix
  • Create a golden mixture of eggs and lemon juice, slowly bring it up to temperature by whisking in some hot broth, and then use it — along with the orzo’s starch — to make a light but creamy, fortified broth

I first published this recipe here back in 2017. I’ve since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta. Its starch contributes to the silky creaminess of the broth. Typically I wouldn’t recommend cooking pasta right in a soup’s broth, but here it’s an integral part of the process.
  • Fresh eggs and freshly squeezed lemon juice get whisked together and tempered (i.e. slowly brought up to temperature by the addition of a little hot broth), then swirled into the soup at the very end.
  • Any simply flavored cooked chicken, from rotisserie to roasted to Instant Pot to sous vide, will work well. Here I sautéed some boneless, skinless breasts in a little olive oil and shredded them with two forks while warm. Leftover turkey works too! Or you can poach the chicken right in the broth before proceeding — see the full instructions below.

My favorite sources for meat & pantry staples

For years, I’ve been sourcing our meat from ButcherBox. We love this curated meat delivery service, which provides grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, organic chicken, and more from small farms direct to the customer. You can learn more in my extensive Butcher Box review and unboxing.

I love Thrive Market for a wide variety of products. Often described as one part Whole Foods, one part Costco, they’re a membership-based online market for healthier products at discounted prices. Plus, they’re mission-driven, engaged in the community, and not currently owned by a giant corporation. You can learn more in my Thrive Market review and unboxing.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a perfect pot of avgolemono soup with orzo. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Bring the broth to a boil, and cook the orzo.
  2. Whisk together the eggs and lemon juice. Then temper the egg mixture by slowly whisking in some of the hot broth.
  3. Simmer the chicken and spinach.
  4. Stir in the egg mixture and heat gently to make a creamy soup. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

What is avgolemono?

Avgolemono is named from the Greek words for egg and lemon. It’s a simple, seemingly magical emulsion of those ingredients that can act as a sauce (to serve over chicken, for example) in its thicker form or a soup with the addition of more broth.

Don’t you love when science = magic? In this avgolemono soup recipe, the starch from the orzo helps to stabilize the emulsion and create a satisfying meal.

What if I don’t have cooked chicken?

No problem. You can start with about a pound of raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Place the chicken into the pot before adding the broth. Bring the broth to a boil as indicated in the first step — but before proceeding, reduce heat to a bare simmer, and cover. Poach until chicken is just opaque throughout, probably about 8 to 10 minutes depending on size and thickness. Dice or shred with two forks while warm.

Skim any foam or other impurities from the broth, bring back to a boil, and proceed with the recipe.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

I don’t recommend going out of your way to make Greek lemon chicken soup in advance. That said, leftovers are fabulous and reheat beautifully as long as you use gentle heat. The orzo will grow a bit as it soaks up some additional broth, but I don’t find that to be a big problem.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and reheat on half power in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop, stopping when hot but not bubbling.

More favorite chicken soup recipes

avgolemono soup with orzo (greek lemon chicken soup with orzo) and spinach in a pot with a ladle

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a bowl of avgolemono soup with orzo and spinach, and a spoon
4.52 from 116 votes

Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup) with Orzo and Spinach

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Avgolemono soup (Greek lemon chicken soup) with orzo and spinach is as quick and easy as it is nourishing and comforting. Here's how to make this creamy, dreamy one-pot meal.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients 

  • 8 cups 1(900 ml) good chicken broth or stock
  • ¾ cup (140 grams) uncooked orzo pasta
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups (350 grams) shredded or diced cooked chicken
  • 3 cups (90 grams) baby spinach leaves
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Pour broth into a five-quart pot and bring to a boil, covered, over high heat.
  • Add orzo and simmer briskly, still covered, until al dente (a minute shy of package directions).
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork. Beat in lemon juice and set aside.
  • When orzo is just cooked, ladle out about a cup of hot broth into a measuring cup with a spout.
  • Slowly pour hot broth into bowl with eggs and lemon juice, whisking constantly with a fork. This process tempers the eggs so they don’t scramble when you add them to the pot.
  • Stir chicken and spinach into soup pot and simmer for a minute or two until spinach is wilted.
  • Reduce heat until broth is no longer bubbling.
  • Stir egg mixture into soup and cook over low heat for a minute or two, until broth looks creamy and is slightly thickened.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Using lower-sodium broth, I recommend 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Notes

  1. Any simply flavored cooked chicken, from rotisserie to roasted to Instant Pot to sous vide, will work well. Here I sautéed some boneless, skinless breasts in a little olive oil and shredded them with two forks while warm. Leftover turkey works too!
  2. If you don’t have cooked chicken, you can poach raw chicken breasts in the broth before proceeding with the recipe. Place the chicken into the pot before adding the broth. Bring the broth to a boil as indicated in the first step — but before proceeding, reduce heat to a bare simmer, and cover. Poach until chicken is just opaque throughout, probably about 8 to 10 minutes depending on size and thickness. Dice or shred with two forks while warm. Skim any foam or other impurities from the broth, bring back to a boil, and proceed with the recipe.
  3. I don't recommend going out of your way to make Greek lemon chicken soup in advance. That said, leftovers are fabulous and reheat beautifully as long as you use gentle heat. The orzo will grow a bit as it soaks up some additional broth, but I don't find that to be a big problem. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and reheat on half power in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop, stopping when hot but not bubbling.

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 39.1g, Fat: 8.4g, Fiber: 1.1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Soups
Cuisine: Greek
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.52 from 116 votes (116 ratings without comment)

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15 Comments

  1. Great recipe. I have made this 3 or 4 times and it is fantastic every time!
    I do start with 1/2c fine diced carrot, 1/4c fine diced celery, and 1/4c fine diced onion. Because vegetables! I sometimes use the big can of Swanson’s chicken breast, and always use frozen spinach because I never seem to have fresh. Also whole wheat orzo!
    Simply delicious every time! Thank you!

  2. The soup is delicious.

    And thank you for the instruction on how to temper eggs!

    How long does this soup keep? Will it work to freeze?

    1. Thanks so much, Natal. You can keep the soup in the fridge for several days and reheat gently. I wouldn’t freeze it. The broth is likely to break.