Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

This classic Greek lemon chicken soup is packed with lots of lemon, herbs, and veggies. It's also dairy-free!

Avgolemono in a bowl with a second bowl and sliced bread behind it.
Alison Bickel

This is my take on the classic Greek chicken soup packed with veggies, herbs, and lots of lemon. Tempering the eggs makes this soup feel lusciously creamy without the need for any dairy and eating it takes me back to the streets of Athens.

It’s a fairly straightforward recipe but does require some care when you are tempering the eggs, so they don’t curdle.

Go slowly the first time you make it to avoid any errors, and after you’ve added the eggs try to ensure the soup doesn’t come to a boil as that’s what can make it split. Even if you are reheating portions, keep the saucepan over low heat and warm it gently.

About “Ripe Figs”

“Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus” is the third cookbook written by Yasmin Khan, an author and activist based in London.

Her book focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean where recipes traveled with people from one great journey to the next. She documents the recipes, ingredients, and pathways of people from the Ottoman Empire to today’s refugee population. She dedicates the book to the migrants.

Yasmin Khan’s Lemon Chicken Soup in a bowl with a white linen underneath it.
Alison Bickel

More Recipes by Yasmin Khan

Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 70 mins
Total Time 85 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

Reprinted with permission from “Ripe Figs,” by Yasmin Kahn. Copyright © 2021. Published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 2 ounces (500g) skinless chicken thighs on the bone
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 1/4 cup (750ml) chicken stock
  • 4 cups (960ml) just-boiled water, divided
  • Scant 1/2 cup (90g) short or medium-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) kale, stalks removed, leaves shredded
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated unwaxed lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped dill, or to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the chicken:

    Place the chicken, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, cinnamon, turmeric, bay leaves, stock, and 2 cups (480 ml) hot water in a large saucepan. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

    “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup in a pot on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
    “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup being made in a stock pot on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
  2. Remove and cool chicken, then shred and cook rice:

    Spoon out the bay leaves and chicken and set aside on a plate to cool. Add the rice to the soup with remaining 2 cups (480ml) hot water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, use your hands to shred the chicken meat from the bones into very small pieces.

    “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup being made in a stock pot on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
    Shredded chicken in a baking dish to make “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup.
    Alison Bickel
  3. Cook kale and return chicken to pot:

    After the rice has cooked, add the kale and return the chicken to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat.

    Shredded chicken and herbs in a pot on the stove to make “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup.
    Alison Bickel
  4. Whisk eggs:

    In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until the mixture is foamy with no streaks remaining.

    Whisked eggs in a small bowl to make “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup.
    Alison Bickel
  5. Temper the eggs:

    Pour 2 ladles of broth from the saucepan into a cup. Then grab a whisk and slowly add this broth to the bowl of lemony eggs, a couple of tablespoons at a time, whisking constantly.

    Don’t pour in too much hot broth too quickly, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Increase to a steady stream once you are halfway through, still whisking, until you’ve incorporated all of it. Slowly drizzle the mixture back into the saucepan, whisking the soup constantly as you do so and incorporating it slowly.

    Tempering the eggs with chicken broth to make “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup.
    Alison Bickel
  6. Thicken soup:

    Return the pot to low heat, add the dill, and cook for 5 minutes to allow the soup to thicken. Don’t let it come up to more than a gentle simmer and, if it starts to look a bit too thick, simply loosen it with a bit of hot water.

    “Ripe Figs” lemon chicken soup thickening on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
  7. Finish soup and serve:

    Finally, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more lemon juice, herbs, salt, or black pepper to taste. Serve in warmed bowls with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

    Overhead view of Yasmin Khan’s Lemon Chicken Soup along with sliced bread and a spoon on a cutting board.
    Alison Bickel