I enjoy making this dish several times a year, especially during colder months. Greek Lemon Chicken with Orzo soup is one of our favorites. Made with homemade chicken stock and the signature Greek sauce known as Avgolemono which consists of egg, lemon, and broth.
You’ll love the fresh lemon and natural flavors of this authentic soup. Consider it a perfect meal for weekends or for those cold winter nights. Save the leftovers for a hearty lunch.
Easy Three-Step Process
This Greek Lemon Chicken with Orzo soup consists of three easy steps:
- MAKE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK
- COOK ORZO
- CREATE AVGOLEMONO SAUCE
Follow along to create this wonderful dish any Yaya would be proud of.
Step 1- Homemade Chicken Stock (The Best)
Homemade chicken stock trumps store-bought in my book any day. You’ll love how simple and easy this homemade stock is to make. Plus, you’ll feel satisfied and accomplished.
quality ingredients make a difference
When it comes to meat, I always try to purchase organic, humanely raised. You’ll want one whole organic, free-range chicken about 3 1/2 to 5 1/2 pounds.
For the vegetables, organic is the way to go. Even though carrots don’t appear on the dirty dozen list (which is updated yearly by the Environmental Working Group) celery does. Meaning celery contains high amounts of pesticides. I always err on the side of caution and buy organic for both whenever I can.
Lastly, for the herbs, you can use dried mint and dill (that is what I typically use). Sometimes I’ve purchased fresh mint and dill and will say it takes this soup to another level. However, both ways create a fantastic chicken stock so go with what you have in your pantry.
Note: In authentic Greek Lemon Chicken with Orzo soup when making the stock you typically use 1 carrot and 2 stalks of celery. On top of that, these vegetables are usually discarded when clarifying the stock. Because I love adding more veggies to dishes, I always up the number of carrots and celery and keep them in the soup.
Step 2- Cook Orzo
What is it? Orzo is small-sized pasta that looks like rice and is made from durum wheat. Whole grain is full of thiamine (vitamin B1) and niacin and packs some protein and fiber. It’s commonly found in Mediterranean dishes and can be used as pasta or as rice. This small-sized pasta can be purchased in bulk in the pasta aisle of your grocery store.
How to cook it. Orzo is really easy to make. For this recipe, you won’t have to worry about measuring out 2 cups of water to the 1 cup of orzo. You’ll simply add the 1 cup of orzo to the homemade stock, bring it to a boil, then simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Need a gluten-free alternative? Some brands make a gluten-free orzo. You can also substitute long-grain rice in a 1:1 ratio. Both orzo and rice are used in traditional Greek lemon chicken and rice soup. Go with what works for you.
Step 3- Create Avgolemono Sauce
Avgolemono sauce (pronounced ah-vo-le-mo-no) is considered the signature sauce of Greece. This mixture is not only used in soups, but fish, meat, and vegetable dishes. Three of the most popular methods are whole-egg, eggs divided, and egg yolk. I’ll share how to use the eggs divided method. This is my personal favorite.
EGGS DIVIDED METHOD
HOW TO PREPARE. You’ll need a total of three whole eggs. Using two bowls, separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. You’ll beat the egg whites and cream of tartar (optional) with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. The egg whites will become glossy.
Mix. With mixer on medium-high speed blend egg whites and cream of tartar (if using).
Soft Peaks. Switch to high speed and continue blending. Soft peaks will begin to form after about a minute or so. The egg whites will start to look more glossy and you’ll be able to form little “mountain” peaks that don’t hold their peak. Once soft peaks form continue to check for stiff peaks every 15 seconds.
Stiff Peaks. Continue blending until stiff peaks form. Be patient but also don’t over mix. Check for stiff peaks every 15 seconds or so. The egg whites will look glossy and they will hold their shape. Like little mountain peaks.
To double check for stiff peaks, I like to turn off the mixer and stir it by hand a couple of times then hold up the beaters (like in the photo above) to see if the egg whites hold a peak.
Add egg yolks and lemon juice. While continuing to beat on medium speed, add one egg yolk at a time. Slowly add lemon juice and continue mixing for one minute.
HOW TO TEMPER. Once you’ve achieved stiff peaks, added the egg yolks, and lemon juice, you’ll add hot broth. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add 1 cup of hot broth to temper the eggs. Beat slowly for 30 more seconds.
Add Avgolemono Sauce to Soup. Tempering helps prevent the eggs from curdling when adding them to the soup. Essentially, you are warming up the sauce.
What to Serve with Greek Lemon Chicken with Orzo Soup?
At our house, this soup is the main dish. You can serve it with a slice of whole-wheat bread, a side of steamed spinach, or a bowl of Greek salad.
The soup can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Keep in mind whether you choose to refrigerate or freeze, the soup will separate. This is normal. Once you reheat just simply stir and everything will reincorporate.
If you do choose to freeze the soup, you can thaw it overnight in the fridge or reheat directly from the freezer. To store, I like to either use these Stasher silicon freezer bags or mason jars. Both work well.
Did You Make This Recipe?
I’d love to hear all about it! Leave a comment below and share a picture of your creation on Instagram with the hashtag #megansophiewellness.
Greek Lemon Chicken with Orzo Soup
Homemade Chicken Stock
- 1 3 1/2-51/2 pound whole, organic chicken
- 10 cups water
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (I use Real Salt or Maldon's)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (quartered)
- 4 organic carrots (peeled and sliced)
- 3 organic celery stalks (2-inch slices)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried mint (Or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint)
- 1 teaspoon dried dill (Or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill)
- 1 cup whole wheat orzo
Avgolemono (Egg, Lemon, & Broth) Sauce
- 3 whole organic eggs (Separate yolks and egg whites)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 large lemons)
- 1 cup hot broth (from homemade chicken stock)
Step 1: To Make Homemade Chicken Stock
- Place chicken in a 4-quart soup pot with enough water to cover chicken and vegetables. Add onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf, salt, mint, dill, and olive oil. Bring to a boil and skim off froth as it develops on top (discard). Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
- When chicken is cooked (internal temperature of 165°), remove it from stock. Discard skin, bones, and cartilage. Dice or tear off the meat into bite-sized pieces, set aside and cover.
- With a slotted spoon, scoop out carrots and celery and set aside (if keeping). Discard bay leaf and onions. Further clarify stock by pouring through a mesh strainer into another large pot.
- Reheat stock over medium-high heat, add chicken base to further enhance the flavor and supplement any evaporation of stock. Be sure to taste the broth before and after adding any chicken base. There should be about 8 cups of stock. Add the diced chicken and vegetables (if using) back to the pot.
Step 2: Orzo
- Once the stock begins to boil, add orzo. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook orzo for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and finish the soup by adding the famous Avgolemono sauce (Egg and Lemon).
Step 3: Create Avgolemono Sauce (Eggs Divided Method)
- In a bowl add egg whites and cream of tartar (if using). Beat on high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Reduce to medium speed, add egg yolks one at a time while continuing to beat. Slowly add lemon juice and continue mixing. While the mixer is still on, carefully add 1 cup of hot broth from the stock to temper the egss. Beat slowly for 30 more seconds.
- Evenly pour the sauce back into the prepared soup and gently shake the pot to incorporate. Do not cover the pot and do not boil, to avoid curdling.