Lemony Greek Chickpea Soup with orzo and fresh vegetables in a fragrant, silky broth. This vibrant vegetarian soup, inspired by Avgolemono Soup, is protein-packed and ready in just over 30 minutes.
Why You'll Love this Greek Chickpea Soup
The better question is, what's NOT to love about this soup? It's light, bright, and packed with protein and whole grains. It will fill and warm you to the core, without weighing you down, and leftovers are just as satisfying the next day.
It’s the type of nourishing midday meal I crave on a busy weekday, yet it's hearty enough to serve for dinner with a side of crusty bread. A handful of fresh dill makes the soup herbaceous and lively, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice wakes up the flavors to make the soup almost invigorating.
This soup was inspired by Avgolemono Soup. Avgolemono ("Ahvo-lemono") refers to the tasty Greek sauce made of whisked eggs, lots of lemon, and warm broth. In addition to using avoglemono sauce in soup, Greek cooks also use it to infuse richness and bright notes of lemon to chicken, vegetables, and even dolmades.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Chickpeas: You need two cans of chickpeas, which add a one-two punch of plant protein and fiber to this soup.
- Orzo: Use either regular or whole-wheat orzo, which are both found in the pasta aisle. Just like any other pasta shape, dry orzo will keep for a WHILE in the pantry, so don’t worry about it going to waste.
- Aromatics: A classic mirepoix including onion, carrots, and celery create the aromatic foundation of this soup. You can use yellow or sweet onion, or even shallots here.
- Broth: You need 8 cups of liquid total, which can be all broth, or half water/half broth if you're trying to scale back on sodium. However I find that using 8 cups of broth lends the biggest flavor impact.
- Eggs: Whisked eggs are what create the quintessential silky broth in Avgolemono Soup. However it is quite easy to end up with scrambled eggs instead of a smooth soup if you do not follow proper technique. When eggs are introduced to heat, they will immediately start to solidify, so to avoid this, we need to temper the eggs. All that means is we SLOWLY pour in a good amount of the hot broth into the eggs, while whisking constantly, which brings the eggs up to temperature slowly without scrambling.
- Lemon: For a double dose of lemon-y goodness, this recipe uses both the lemon peel and juice. Note: it's important to use the juice of whole lemons, as opposed to the bottled lemon juice. You truly can't beat the brightness and zing of fresh lemons in Avgolemono Soup.
- Greens: For a pop of color and extra nutrients, I love stirring in a few handfuls of chopped kale at the end of cooking. Alternatively, you can use spinach, swiss chard, or collard greens.
- Dill: Fresh dill makes the soup herbaceous and lively. Just wait to stir it in until right before serving to preserve its flavor and color.
Step 1: Sauté Aromatics
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrots, celery, and lemon peel. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until softened.
Step 2: Add Broth, Chickpeas, and Orzo
Add broth and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add chickpeas, orzo, salt, pepper, and oregano; bring mixture back to a simmer. Simmer soup over medium-high heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until the orzo is al dente. Reduce heat to low.
Step 3: Prepare Egg Mixture
Place whole eggs, egg yolks, and lemon juice in a large bowl; whisk until combined. While whisking constantly, VERY slowly stream in ¾ cup of hot broth into egg mixture.
*Note: It's easy to end up with scrambled eggs if you don't do this properly. When eggs are introduced to heat, they will immediately start to solidify, so to avoid this, we need to temper the eggs. This is achieved when you SLOWLY pour the hot broth into the eggs, while whisking constantly, which brings the eggs up to temperature without them cooking.
Step 4: Add Egg Mixture and Greens to Soup
While gently stirring the soup with a wooden spoon or ladle, stream the egg-broth mixture into the pot of soup. Add kale and continue to cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the broth is slightly thickened. Remove lemon peel.
Step 5: Garnish with Dill and Serve
Lastly, stir fresh dill into soup and taste/adjust seasonings as needed. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with extra fresh dill and cracked black pepper.
How to Store and Reheat:
- To Store: Let the soup come close to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight storage container. Refrigerate soup for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat: This soup reheats best stovetop, however you can also nook it in the microwave for convenience. For stovetop reheating, place soup in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until warm. If the soup appears too thick, add an extra splash or broth or water to help rehydrate it. Alternatively, heat individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until warm.
- To Freeze: Transfer completely cooled soup to a freezer-safe, gallon-sized ziptop bag. Lay flat in the freezer, and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Greek Chickpea Soup:
While this soup is satiating enough to enjoy on its own (or simply paired with crusty bread), here are some of my favorite pairings:
- Broccoli Salad: You can't beat this BLT-style Broccoli Salad with Everything Bagel Spice. Bonus: you can prep the recipe well in advance so it's good-to-go once the soup is ready.
- Brussels Salad: For some cruciferous crunch, try my 10-Minute Warm Brussels Salad, or this Shaved Brussels and Pear Salad with Manchego.
- Sandwich: You can't go wrong with a soup + salad combo. This Green Goddess Chicken Salad Sandwich is always a hit, as well as this Chickpea Salad, which you can enjoy in salad cups or a tortilla.
Recommended Tools to Execute this Recipe:
- Dutch Oven: I use my Lodge Enameled 6-qt Dutch Oven for every single homemade soup recipe. It’s a staple piece on my stovetop, and has endless functionality. Lodge is also quite a bit cheaper than Cuisinart, yet just as good quality, in my opinion.
- Ladle: For transferring the hot broth to the egg mixture, you need a sturdy ladle. This one is dishwasher safe.
- Whisk: For whisking the egg mixture, this whisk has a comfortable, sturdy grip and stainless steel wires.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board: For the slicing and dicing in this recipe, you need a reliable cutting board. This one is easier and safer than cutting boards without the non-slip feature, and it’s dishwasher safe.
More Healthy Vegetarian Soup Recipes to Try:
If you give this Greek Chickpea Soup a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.
Lemony Greek Chickpea Soup
- Large Dutch oven or stock pot
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped yellow or sweet onion
- ¾ cup finely chopped carrots
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- 2 (2-inch) strips lemon peel, plus ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, divided
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 quarts (8 cups) lower-sodium vegetable broth (sub chicken broth if not making vegetarian)
- 2 (15.5-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ¾ cup dry orzo pasta (regular or whole-wheat)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 large whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
- 3 handfuls roughly chopped or shredded kale (sub spinach, Swiss Chard, or escarole)
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
- Heat oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrots, celery, and lemon peel. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic; cook 1 more minute, until aromatic.
- Add broth and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add chickpeas, orzo, salt, pepper, and oregano. Simmer soup over medium-high heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until the orzo is al dente. Reduce heat to low, and remove ¾ cup hot broth from the soup. Set aside.
- Place whole eggs, egg yolks, and lemon juice in a large bowl; whisk until combined. While whisking constantly, VERY slowly stream hot broth into egg mixture.*Note: It's easy to end up with scrambled eggs if you don't do this properly. When eggs are introduced to heat, they will immediately start to solidify, so to avoid this, you need to temper the eggs. This is achieved when you SLOWLY pour the hot broth into the eggs, while whisking constantly, which brings the eggs up to temperature without scrambling them.
- While gently stirring the soup with a wooden spoon or ladle, stream the egg-broth mixture back into the pot of soup. Add kale and continue to cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the broth is slightly thickened and greens are wilted. Remove lemon peels.
- Stir in fresh dill and taste/adjust seasonings as needed. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with extra fresh dill, cracked black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.