All About Avgolemono, Everyone's Favorite Greek Egg-Lemon Soup

Learn all about avgolemono, the famous marriage of egg and lemon that makes fabulously silky soups and sauces.

What Is Avgolemono?

First, let's cover the basics: avgolemono is a Greek word pronounced ahv-go-LE-mono and translates literally to egg-lemon, avgo being Greek for "egg" and lemoni meaning, you guessed it — lemon. Avgolemono is actually both a soup and a sauce. The dish most familiar to North Americans is avgolemono soupa — or egg-lemon soup, which is a simple, comforting, and nourishing soup traditionally made from little more than chicken broth, rice, lemon juice, and eggs.

Avgolemono sauce is made in the same fashion with the same ingredients, but uses a higher egg to liquid ratio to create a lusciously thick sauce, which is served with dishes like meat-stuffed grape leaves (dolmades) and cabbage rolls (lahanodolmades).

What Does Avgolemono Taste Like?

Avgolemono tastes like a silky, creamy, lemony soup or sauce, yet there's no cream or butter — just eggs, lemon juice, and broth.

Avgolemono is a lemon lover's dream, but even those who don't like to pucker up shouldn't be afraid to try it. The level of tartness is really up to you; you can adjust the amount of lemon juice in any avgolemono recipe, using less or more to taste. The luxurious mouthfeel is created without the use of dairy whatsoever and is all thanks to the emulsification of the eggs with the lemon juice and broth.

How Do You Make Avgolemono?

In an authentic Greek avgolemono soup, the ingredients are extremely basic: chicken broth, rice, eggs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper — that's it. While families may put their own spin on avgolemono, of course, in most cases there are no additional vegetables, herbs, or seasonings added. Rice is most common, but orzo pasta is sometimes used instead.

The silky texture of avgolemono depends on tempering the egg-lemon mixture with some of the hot broth. This is the final step of making avgolemono soup, done right before serving.

To temper the eggs for avgolemono:

  1. First beat together the lemon juice and the eggs — doing this first helps to prevent curdling and splitting.
  2. Next, take the hot broth off the heat. Slowly ladle hot broth into the egg-lemon mixture while beating vigorously and constantly with a whisk. (You can use an electric mixer or food processor, but it's not necessary.) Add two to three ladlefuls of hot broth in total.
  3. Now reverse the process and slowly pour the egg-lemon-broth mixture back into the pot of hot stock, stirring constantly.
  4. Finally, return the pot to a medium heat. Watching carefully and stirring occasionally, let the soup heat through and thicken. Remove just after the first bubbles start to appear and never let the soup boil to keep it from splitting.
two bowls of avgolemono soup with a lemon and spoon on the side
Diana Moutsopoulos

Get the recipe: Greek Avgolemono Chicken Soup

How to Serve Avgolemono Soup

In Greece, avgolemono is often enjoyed as a main course, accompanied by bread and perhaps a salad or vegetable on the side. While shredded chicken is sometimes added to avgolemono soup, it isn't a traditional ingredient. However, adding the shredded chicken makes for a hearty all-in-one meal when combined with the rice or orzo and, of course, the eggs.

One secret to enjoying avgolemono soup is to add lots of freshly ground pepper to your bowl. If you're a fan of anything lemon-pepper, you'll love this!

How to Store Avgolemono

Once you've made avgolemono, chill any leftovers as soon as possible in the refrigerator. Avgolemono soup will last two to three days when chilled properly in the fridge. You can freeze avgolemono in individual portions, but take care when reheating to avoid splitting.

Can You Reheat Avgolemono Soup?

This is a common question and the short answer is: Yes, you can reheat avgolemono soup and sauce. You can reheat avgolemono in the microwave or on the stove. Keep in mind that the risk of splitting still exists, so reheating gently over medium heat on the stove can be a safer bet than on full power in the microwave. If you do use the microwave to reheat avgolemono, try at a lower power, stirring occasionally until heated thoroughly.

avgolemono soup
Patricia Zdanowski

Avgolemono Recipes and More

Looking for a go-to avgolemono soup recipe? Check out this round-up of our best avgolemono soup recipes to find your favorite. Dig a little deeper into avgolemono in our article explaining all the ways you can use avgolemono as a sauce and more.

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