Creamy and hearty yet healthy and light, this Greek Instant Pot Chicken Lemon Soup is also known as avgolemono (pronounced av-gho-lé-mo-no). Thickened with fragrant and tangy lemony egg sauce, this luxurious soup with shredded chicken and orzo is silky and rich with no cream or dairy in sight. It’s one of the best chicken soup recipes out there so make sure to give a try in your pressure cooker. Weight Watchers: 7 Smart Points (green)
What is avgolemono?
This chicken lemon soup can often be found in Greek restaurants and homes and is often served at weddings or special celebrations. Its name avgolemono refers to to the egg and lemon sauce that is used to thicken the soup at the end of the cooking process. The soup has a lovely lemon tang and aroma but isn’t sour. It’s rich and creamy, even though it’s low in calories and saturated fat.
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS CHICKEN LEMON SOUP
There are two parts to making this delicious Greek chicken soup. Full ingredients and instructions (plus nutritional breakdown further below) but here is what you need and a handy video to show you how.
Making the base stock
First, you have to make the base chicken stock using skinless chicken breasts and thighs, vegetables, garlic, bay leaf and a chicken stock cube for extra flavor. Instant Pot is perfect for this phase as you can achieve rich, hearty stock in half the time of cooking it on the stove. To save time, you can also use pre-made chicken stock (see notes below).
Cooking & thickening the soup
Once the stock is made, the soup is finished by cooking extra vegetables (optional but adds extra nutrients) and orzo pasta or rice and making the avgolemono egg and lemon sauce, which is whisked eggs and lemon juice. This egg sauce is then tempered with the hot chicken stock to raise the temperature of the eggs without cooking them and is added to the soup to thicken it.
The chicken you cook for the stock is tender and juicy, perfect for shredding and adding back to our soup.
Avgolemono chicken soup variations
This Instant Pot avgolemono recipe is dairy-free, healthy and nutritious, even though it tastes so comforting and hearty. Here are a couple of variations you can make for special diets:
- Gluten-free: Replace orzo with white rice. In fact, quite a few recipes do call for white rice although orzo seems to be more popular. Other small-shaped gluten-free pasta could be used here. Cooking time should be about the same for medium to long-grain white rice.
- Paleo/Whole30: Finely diced potato or cauliflower could be used instead of orzo or rice. You can also dice up some broccoli or zucchini. Change the cooking time in Part 2 from 2 minutes to 0/Zero minutes with 5 minutes natural release. The rest can stay the same.
- Vegetarian avgolemono: If you eat eggs but not meat, you can enjoy a plant-based version of this soup. Simply follow Part 2 of the recipe. Swap chicken stock for vegetables, add a few cups of diced vegetables, some garlic, a can of chickpeas and orzo and cook as per Part 2 of the recipe. Stir in the lemon egg sauce at the end.
Speedy Instant Pot Avgolemono
Use pre-cooked chicken (e.g. leftover roast chicken or rotisserie deli chicken) and store-bought chicken stock and start at Part 2 of the recipe, which will skip 30 minutes. Pronto!
Thickened with fragrant and tangy lemony egg sauce, this luxurious Greek Instant Pot chicken lemon soup is silky and rich with no cream or dairy in sight. It’s one of the best chicken soup recipes out there so make sure to give a try in your pressure cooker.
Pare 1 – the base stock
2 chicken breasts (with or without the bone, skin off)
2 chicken thighs (skin off, thigh and leg)
5 cups of water (about 1.2 Liters)
1 cube chicken stock or 1 tablespoon chicken stock powder
1 medium onion, halved
2 carrots, halved
2 celery sticks, halved
5 cloves of garlic (whole)
2 bay leaves
1 rosemary sprig (optional)
Part 2 – the soup
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
1 cup uncooked orzo
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 large eggs or 3 medium/small
1/3 cup lemon juice (1.5-2 lemons, squeezed)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8–10 oz shredded cooked chicken (250-300 g)
Fresh parsley to garnish
Part 1. Making the base stock
- If the chicken comes with skin on, remove as much of it as you can. You can roast it in the oven till crispy and season with salt for a savory snack or serve on top of the soup.
- Add the chicken stock ingredients to the Instant Pot and pour in the water. Stir through and pop the lid on top. Set to Manual/Pressure Cook, High pressure for 17 minutes. The pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure and the timer will begin. Once the timer stops, allow about 15 minutes for natural pressure release. Then move the top valve to Venting to let off the remaining pressure.
- While the base stock is cooking, cut up carrots and celery for Part 2 and prepare the lemon zest and juice.
Part 2. Making the soup
- Open the Instant Pot lid once the pressure is released. Remove the chicken pieces, vegetables and loose onions to a plate.
- Add orzo pasta, diced carrots and celery, and lemon zest to the stock. Stir through and put the lid back on top, lock and make sure the top valve is again pointing to Sealing.
- Set to Manual/Pressure Cook, High Pressure, for 2 minutes. Once the timer is up, allow 5-10 minutes for natural pressure release again (but NOT LONGER or you will overcook the orzo). Then use the quick release method to let off the rest.
- Once the soup is cooked and the Instant Pot is on natural release, prepare the egg and lemon sauce and shred the chicken. This is the sauce that we will add to the soup to thicken it.
- Add the eggs to a measuring jug or a bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the lemon juice in small pours while whisking the eggs at the same time. Whisk until frothy and set aside.
- Open the lid and stir the soup. Ladle about 1/2 cup of hot stock. Slowly, pour little bits of hot stock in the egg mixture while whisking it. We’re adding the hot liquid gradually to make sure we don’t curdle or cook the eggs. This is called tempering as we’re slowly raising the temperature of the egg sauce without cooking it. Then repeat the process with another 1/2 cup of hot broth.
- While the soup is still very hot but not on heat or boiling, pour in the egg mixture into the hot soup while whisking it. If the soup has cooled down, heat it up to very hot first. As you add the egg sauce, the soup will thicken and change its colour to creamy white.
- Finally, add extra salt (we used another 1/2 teaspoon but you can season to taste), a little pepper and stir in the shredded, cooked chicken. Serve with fresh parsley and lemon on top. Enjoy!
Using rice instead of orzo: some recipes call for rice instead of pasta, instructions should be pretty much the same. You might want to rinse the rice briefly before adding to the pot. Cooking time should work for regular, medium to long-grain rice but not for brown or wild rice, which requires longer cooking times.
Dietary notes: low-calorie, nut-free, dairy-free, Mediterranean Diet, healthy, protein-rich, low in sugar.
Weight Watchers: 7 Smart Points (green)
- Serving Size: 1.5 cups
- Calories: 289
- Sugar: 5.6 g
- Sodium: 642 mg
- Fat: 5.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 33.6 g
- Fiber: 2.4 g
- Protein: 24.2 g
- Cholesterol: 122.5 mg
Keywords: Orzo, Mediterranean, Chicken Soup
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES FOR INSTANT POT
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- Italian Chicken Scarpariello
- Soy-Ginger Chicken Hibachi
- Dump’n’cook Savory Chicken