When life gives you lemons, make avgolemono.

This delicious, lemon-flavored soup is the perfect meal for anyone seeking creamy, soothing comfort on a cold winter’s night. Being deeply nutritious and easy to digest, it also makes excellent convalescent food. What’s more, it’s simple and quick to prepare, especially if you have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

Often considered a Greek dish, avgolemono (which in Greek literally means “egg–lemon”) is originally Sephardic Jewish: indeed, Claudia Roden, the doyenne of Jewish cooking, describes it as the “cornerstone of Sephardic cooking.” Sauces and soups made with egg yolk and lemon juice mixed with broth, heated until they thicken are found in Greek, Arab, Sephardic Jewish, Turkish, Balkan and Jewish-Italian cuisine. (To find out more about this time-honored preparation, check out its Wikipedia entry.)

There are hundreds of versions of avgolemono soup; some include chicken and vegetables, whereas others simply combine chicken broth and the egg-lemon sauce (like a tangy Mediterranean version of eggdrop soup). Most include a starch such as rice or orzo pasta, which I have replaced here with steel-cut oats which have a lower glycemic impact, more fiber and nutrients, and which yield in a beautifully creamy texture.

The magic ingredient in avgolemono is the egg-lemon sauce from which it takes its name; it transforms a rather ordinary combination of chicken, pasta and broth into a bowlful of creamy, silky, tangy delight. People’s tolerance for lemon’s acidity varies — I personally use just a little juice and add a pinch of lemon zest to reinforce the soup’s lemony aromas while keeping a lid on its acidity. With high-impact ingredients like lemon juice it’s safer to put in a little at first and add more as needed, rather than going whole hog and then scrambling to find ways to buffer all that acidity.

Chicken & Oat Avgolemono Soup

Keyword: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Instant Pot, Low-Carb, Meat & Chicken, Soups & Stews
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 321kcal
A silky, lemony bowlful of nourishing comfort
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • 6-8 quart Instant Pot you can make this soup on a stovetop, too; it'll require roughly twice the cooking time

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots halved lengthwise and finely cubed
  • 2 medium leeks thinly sliced, washed in a large bowl of cold water (to remove grit) and drained
  • 3 medium celery sticks halved lengthwise and finely cubed
  • .6 cloves garlic peeled & coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken bone broth homemade or store-bought; one of my favorites is Kirkland's organic chicken bone broth
  • ¾ cup steel cut oats for a thicker oatmeal-like consistency, use 1 cup
  • 1 tap poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • lbs chicken thighs bone-in; remove skin before cooking
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup lemon juice freshly pressed
  • 1/2 cup dill or parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp Thai fish sauce optional; I like Red Boat fish sauce
  • a few lemon wedges to serve as garnish

Instructions

  • Warm Instant Pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and saute carrots, celery, leeks and garlic for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add chicken broth, oats, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Now add the chicken pieces, submerging them in the broth. (If you have a cotton nut milk bag (something like this), place the chicken pieces inside, tie the string and submerge; this will make it easier to retrieve the chicken without "losing" small bones and bits of cartilage in the soup.)
  • Lock the lid and set Instant Pot to PRESSURE, HIGH for 20 minutes. Once cooking time is over, let the pot sit for 10 minutes; then shift the pressure valve to VENTING to release remaining steam. (If cooking this on the stove top, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook on a low heat, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until the chicken comes off the bone easily and the oats are thick and super-soft (about 1-1¼ hours).
  • Lift out the chicken in the bag using kitchen tongs and let most of the broth drain for a minute; then loosen the strings and tip the chicken pieces onto a plate. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. (If you cooked the chicken without a nut-milk bag, retrieve the pieces very carefully with tongs.)
  • Return the soup to a low simmer. Whisk it with a balloon whisk to break down the oats and thicken the soup.
  • While the soup is simmering, whisk the eggs and lemon juice in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. To temper the lemon-egg mixture, slowly pour two ladlefuls of the hot soup into the mixture, whisking it continuously as you do so. Then pour the lemon-egg-soup mix back into the hot soup and stir to combine it. The soup will turn creamy and thicken further. Turn off the pot (stove top: remove from heat).
  • By now the chicken should have cooled enough to handle. Slip the meat off the bones and shred it coarsely, then return it to the soup, stirring gently to combine.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper, additional lemon juice if desired, and a dash of Thai fish sauce (optional but highly recommended. It won't make the soup taste of fish, it will simply deepen all the flavors of the soup in the yummiest way imaginable...).
  • Stir in the chopped dill or parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with a sprig of dill or parsley. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 170mg | Sodium: 677mg | Potassium: 503mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 6024IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg