I discovered many a comfort food during the six years I spent living in New York. There was just something about a snowstorm in the concrete jungle that made me gravitate toward my local Greek restaurant, Uncle Nick’s, for a big bowl of their famous avgolemono soup (a.k.a. lemon chicken soup).
The citrusy soup hits all the flavor high notes and is truly a meal-in-a-bowl. It took some experimenting, but I’ve tried and tasted countless versions to settle on this quick-fix variety that satisfies my Greek lemon chicken soup cravings now that I’ve moved back to southern California.
It all begins with plenty of fresh citrus, both lemon juice and lemon zest. (For true lemon flavor, it’s all about the zest!) And then it comes down to your choice of carbs. Which carb you choose will ultimately impact the thickness of the soup, so here are a few quick pointers so you can choose your preferred path:
- Rice: The most traditional option, making this recipe with rice will lead to the thickest, creamiest variation of the soup, as the starch soaks up excess liquid.
- Orzo: For pasta lovers, orzo is your best bet. The tiny pasta cooks quickly directly in the soup, so there are no extra pots required.
- Pearl couscous: The most eye-popping of the bunch, Israeli couscous also cooks quickly directly in the soup and adds a textural contrast to each bite.
Once you’ve chosen your starch, all that’s left to do is chop up a rotisserie chicken (go for a store-bought chicken for speed or roast your own for added flavor) then gather the whole gang together in a big pot and let it simmer away until the rice/orzo/couscous is cooked. All in, you’re at most 20 minutes way from a bowl of creamy, comforting Greek lemon chicken soup.
Dill is an optional garnish, but it lends color and fresh herb flavor to a 5-ingredient recipe that gives the traditional chicken noodle a real run for its money.
Pair the soup with a loaf of crusty French bread and a simple side salad (this is my favorite) and a fast, fresh and filling dinner is just minutes away. And if you’re ever in Manhattan, swing by Uncle Nick’s to sample the original inspiration behind this recipe!
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- 7 cups low sodium or unsalted chicken stock
- 2 (10.5-oz) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest
- 3/4 cup uncooked orzo, pearl couscous or white rice
- 3 cups diced cooked chicken
- Dill, for garnishing
- In a large stock pot set over medium heat, whisk together the chicken stock, cream of chicken soup, lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Stir in the orzo and chicken then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and cook it until the orzo is tender and the soup is warmed through, about 8 minutes. (See Kelly’s Note.) Taste and season the soup with salt and pepper.
- Serve the soup garnished with fresh dill and a sprinkle of freshly grated lemon zest (optional).
- If you’re using white rice instead of orzo, you will have to cook the soup (covered) for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- You can use either the regular cream of chicken soup, the fat free version, or one can of each.
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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.