By Natalie Bickford, MS
Natalie is a nutritionist and personal chef in Bend, OR who specializes in women's health and sports nutrition. She loves creating simple, nourishing meals and recipes to fuel your life. Join Natalie's Cooking Club for weekly menus, grocery lists, videos, and meal prep tips! Now onto the recipe…
This creamy, bright, lemony soup will blow your mind with its simplicity and deliciousness!
Also known as Avgolemono, this traditional Greek soup is a fun twist on a classic chicken and rice soup. It has a secret ingredient that makes it extra luscious — eggs! No dairy, just eggs to create a creamy, velvety consistency. The soup is topped with a generous amount of fresh dill for a herbaceous punch and black pepper for a lil kick. A drizzle of olive oil rounds it out!
Eggs! These little rays of sunshine are a great source of vitamin K and B vitamins. They’re also high in selenium, vitamin D, and choline (an important nutrient for brain health). While the egg whites are high in protein, all of those important micronutrients come from the golden yolks!
Be sure to buy pasture-raised eggs! The amount of healthy omega-3 fats found in the yolks and other nutrients depends on what those chickens were eating! A true sign of a well-fed chicken is a golden yolk. My favorite store-bought brands are Vital Farms and Happy Egg.
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
Serves: 4 (makes about 9 cups)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp black pepper
¾ cup short grain brown rice and/or quinoa*
1 bay leaf (optional)
1.5 lb bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (skins removed)**
2 qt (8 cups) water
4 cups loosely packed spinach or 2 cups frozen (optional)
4 eggs (2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks)
¼ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 cup fresh dill, chopped***
Olive oil, for drizzling
*I like to do a mix of rice and quinoa, but you can pick one or the other
**It’s super easy to remove the skins from chicken thighs, they peel off easily. You could substitute with 1 lb boneless skinless thighs, but the bone-in thighs add a lot of flavor to the broth.
***Dill goes best with this soup, but you could also top with parsley or green scallions.
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the rice and/or quinoa, bay leaf (if using), chicken, water, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a rapid simmer/low boil for 25 minutes uncovered. We want the liquid to reduce and flavor from the chicken bones to infuse the broth. If using brown rice, be sure to taste and make sure it is cooked through.
Turn the heat off, remove the bay leaf (if using) and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Return the chicken to the pot along with the spinach (if using). Turn the heat to medium low and simmer until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, and lemon juice until smooth. VERY slowly pour in a scant 2 cups of the hot broth while whisking constantly (it’s ok if you have some bits of food in the broth!).
Stir the lemony egg liquid back into the soup. Simmer it gently for a couple of minutes. It will become creamy — MAGIC! Taste and add remaining ½ teaspoon more salt if you think it needs it (the acidic broth really needs salt to balance it out!).
Serve topped with lots of fresh dill, a drizzle of olive oil and lots of black pepper.
- To make vegetarian, skip the chicken and substitute with cubed tofu or 2 (15 oz) cans of drained beans (white beans or chickpea will work). Also recommend using vegetable broth in place of water to add more flavor.
- To make vegan, follow instructions for vegetarian above, but also use 6 cups (instead of 8) vegetable broth in place of water. At the end, stir in a can of coconut milk (instead of eggs) and 2 tbsp lemon juice.
- Chop 1 yellow onion.
- Remove skin from chicken thighs (if using bone-in, skin on).
- You can make this soup ahead! See “leftovers” section for tips on reheating.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
LEFTOVERS + REPURPOSING:
- This soup gets thick as it sits in the fridge. Warm it up on the stove or in the microwave, adding some water to thin it out if needed.
- Serve topped with lots of herbs, black pepper, and olive oil.
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