September 17, 2023

Avgolemono : Greek Lemon Soup (With Meatballs and Orzo)

avgolemono | av·​go·​lem·​o·​no
a traditional Greek soup or sauce made with chicken stock, lemon juice, and egg.

If you have been visiting this site or my IG for a while then you know I don’t stick to traditional ways of making dishes, so of course this soup is going to have a twist. Traditionally made with rice and sometimes chicken this version plays off another fan favorite soup, Italian meatball. With mini turkey meatballs, a heaping spoonful of orzo, and a clean and flavorful lemon broth, this avgolemono is done in under 40 minutes and a MUST make.

Move over chicken noodle, THIS is the soup to make when you are sick, or even better have someone make it for you. I swear it is the only thing I want to eat when I am under the weather. It isn’t overly complicated to make, in fact the flavors come together in no time at all, no excessive simmering required. The broth truly warms your insides with a hit of bright lemon, and I mean a hit there is no skimping in citrus here, and is filling with hearty squishy meatballs and orzo.

a bowl of avgolemono, Greek Lemon Soup with meatballs and orzo



The best way I can describe these meatballs are squishy and delightful. They don’t overpower the soup, only add to it. They take about 10-15 minutes to combine the ingredients and roll out, so if you are truly in a pinch to make this soup you can absolutely substitute for shredded precooked chicken.

  • Ground Turkey – I love a squishy meatball, and turkey is the key to get them. I use lean turkey, but any ground turkey works here. Substitute with ground chicken if needed.
  • Breadcrumbs- Unseasoned Italian breadcrumbs.
  • Egg
  • Garlic – Fresh only! 1 medium clove or 2 small cloves.
  • Onion – Yellow or white. Keep in mind these meatballs are SMALL. You need to get a really small mince on them. If you are unable to mince them itty bitty throw them in a food processor to mince.
  • Parsley – Fresh only! Dried doesn’t lend the same flavor.


  • Chicken Broth
  • Lemon – It is so important to use fresh lemons and not the bottle of lemon juice. Lemons will give this broth a bright flavor vs weighing it down. You need 1/2 cup which equates to about 3 large lemons or 4 medium. A little advice; we are only looking to use the juice from the lemon. Do not throw in additional lemon slices. This will result in an bitter soup.
  • Egg – The broth of this soup is a little thinner than a traditional avgolemono, which typically gets its thickness from eggs and rice. I used to think that the purpose of the eggs was just to thicken up the soup. After making this time and time again the eggs gives the broth flavor as well as a silky texture, as long as it is incorporated in properly. See below steps on tempering.
  • Onion – Yellow or white works for this recipe.
  • Garlic – Fresh only!
  • Orzo – My favorite is Delallo. I find that the orzo is more broad and gives a better mouthfeel.


Large Dutch Oven or Stock Pot – This soup is made for a family, approx. 6 servings. I typically make this in my 4 qt dutch oven and that JUST fits the soup.


Form the Meatballs – Probably the most tedious part of this recipe, but trust me the mini meatballs are worth the extra time. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, this includes ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, finely chopped parsley, minced onion, grated garlic, and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. With your hands combine throughly, without over mixing. You know you are done mixing when the mixture is consistent throughout. Form into 40-45 mini meatballs and place on a sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the fridge until later.

Saute the Base – In the pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat heat up the olive oil. Once hot add in the onion and saute until soft approx. 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, another 2-3 minutes. Add the broth and lemon juice, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a simmer. Place the lid on the pot to speed up the process. Simmer for 5 minutes.


This section needs its own subheading it is that important. If you have never tempered eggs before it is just a fancy term for bringing your eggs slowly up to temperature before adding it in. If you add the beaten egg to the simmering soup as is, it will cook on contact and you will have a lemony egg drop soup.

I like to use a ladle and a 2 cup liquid measuring cup for this step, but use what you have. Beat the eggs in a large container (or measuring cup). Slowly, and I mean slowly, drizzle in the hot soup while continuously beating the egg. You want the tiniest drizzle to flow in. Continue to do this until 2 cups have been added. Add the egg mixture to the soup and give it a mix. If you did this successfully the broth will lighten in color with no egg bits. You will also be able to tell more once the soup is done, if the eggs were not tempered correctly you will have separation as the soup cools.

Add the Meatballs + Simmer + Finish – Add the meatballs and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the mini meatballs are cooked throughout. Turn off the heat and finish the soup with a pinch of fresh dill. To serve, ladle over a bowl with some cooked orzo.

a bowl of avgolemono, Greek Lemon Soup with meatballs and orzo


Store avgolemono in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. When ready to reheat pour the desired amount into a sauce pan and heat on low until desired temperature. Want to make parts of this dish in advance? The turkey meatballs can be made in advance and frozen for up to 2 months. When ready to make the soup drop the meatballs in frozen and cook for double the amount of time.

Need more soup? Check out the below!

Creamy Chicken + Wild Rice
Spicy Miso

September 17, 2023

Avgolemono : Greek Lemon Soup

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With mini meatballs, a heaping spoonful of orzo, and a flavorful lemon broth, this avgolemono is done in under 40 minutes and a MUST make.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Greek
Keyword Lemon Soup, Meatballs, Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 people


  • 1 large dutch oven or pot bigger than 4qt


Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs unseasoned
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely grated on a microplane


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice approx. 3 large lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • fresh dill
  • kosher salt
  • orzo amount is up to you i typically make 1/2 box for 5-6 people


Turkey Meatballs

  • Place all the ingredients in a large bowl (ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, finely chopped parsley, minced onion, grated garlic, and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt).
  • Combine with your hands until thoroughly combined. Form into 40 mini meatballs and place on a sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the fridge until added to the soup.


  • Add the olive oil to a dutch oven or deep pot over medium-low heat. Once heated up add the minced onion, a pinch of salt, and cook for 3 minutes until soft.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  • Add broth and lemon juice, raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. (speed up the process by placing the lid on the pot). Once at a simmer, simmer for 5 minutes. This is the time to try the broth and salt to taste. I typically add about 1/2 tsp – 3/4 tsp of kosher salt.
  • While this is coming to a simmer start the cooking the orzo as per packaging in salty water.
  • After the 5 minutes of simmering crack and beat both eggs in a large measuring cup or bowl ( needs to be greater than 2 cups). Slowly temper the eggs (and I mean slowly) by beating the egg continuously while drizzling in some of the hot broth until 2 cups have been added. Once combined and brought to the same temperature as the soup add the egg mixture to the soup.
  • Add the meatballs and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Finish with a small amount of dill. Serve over a bowl with orzo.

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Easy to follow. Taste is wonderful. Recipe is great for the holiday season and will make you think of your greek grandmas soups.

  2. 5 stars
    I can’t get over how delicious this recipe was when I made it this weekend. It was easy to follow and the flavors were spot on. Can I use ground beef or chicken if I didn’t have any turkey?