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Armenian Havaboor (Lemon-Chicken Soup)


Armenian Havaboor (Lemon-Chicken Soup)

Lynley Jones

Chicken and rice in a velvety-rich creamy lemon-egg soup. Love and warmth in a bowl. 

This recipe was originally featured in Why Did the Chicken Cross the Globe?

Serves 4-6


Havaboor (Armenian Lemon Chicken Soup) made in the Adventure Kitchen.

6 cups Rich Chicken Stock or lightly salted chicken broth of your choice

1 3/4 teaspoons coarse salt (or half this amount if using table salt)

Optional: 2 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on, or 1 chicken breast if you prefer (see notes)

1/3 cup long grain white rice

2 eggs, room temperature

4 Tablespoons lemon juice (or juice of 1 lemon)

Minced parsley


1. Bring stock just to a boil in a medium saucepan with the lid on. Once boiling, turn heat to medium and stir in the salt.

2. If using chicken thighs, add them to the pan, put the lid askew and maintain a gentle simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool.

3. Add the rice to the broth, bring briefly to a boil, then cover and cook over low heat until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. While the rice cooks, shred the chicken meat if you've used it, discarding the skin. (You can freeze the bones to use when making more Rich Chicken Stock.) When the rice is tender, remove from heat.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs for about 3 minutes (set a timer), until light and frothy. This frothiness will help the eggs to incorporate smoothly into the soup and give the final dish its light, velvety feel. (This is important - see notes!) After 3 minutes of whisking, when the eggs are frothy, whisk the lemon juice into the eggs.

5. Temper the eggs as follows, so that they gently cook into the hot soup without scrambling: 

First, drizzle a very small amount of the hot broth into the bowl of egg mixture, whisking vigorously as you do. Add more broth, spoonfuls at a time, whisking continuously, until you have added about half the broth to the eggs, and the egg mixture is quite warm (the outside of the bowl will feel quite warm to the touch).

Then, with the heat still off, slowly pour the egg-and-broth mixture from the bowl into the soup pan, stirring constantly as you pour.

6. When you've added all the eggs to the pan, turn the heat back on to medium-low. Stir in the chicken if using. Bring the soup briefly to a bare simmer but do not let the soup boil vigorously or the sauce may break.

7. Once you've achieved a bare simmer, turn the heat back off, ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with parsley and serve.


This recipe is based on the Armenian family recipe my friend Cleo shared with me. The dish has been passed down for generations as a healing, loving comfort food in her family, as is well known in traditional Armenian cooking. You can read more about it in Why Did the Chicken Cross the Globe? 

The traditional approach to this dish (at least, in Cleo's family) does not include the optional shredded chicken. I added it as an option here for those who want to give the dish a little more heft, but it's not necessary. If you want to make it exactly the way families like Cleo's have been eating it for generations, leave the optional chicken thighs out.

The recipe also calls for whisking the eggs for 3 minutes. It's very specific about this! Here's the deal - after 3 minutes of hand whisking, you get very light, fluffy eggs, which will give the finished soup a velvety lightness that is characteristic to the dish. So don't skimp on the whisking. You could probably use a hand-held electric mixer to make this easier, but I didn't experiment with this. I did it the old-fashioned way, and enjoyed knowing I was sharing an experience with generations of Armenian mothers and grandmothers. I'm guessing you'll feel the same way. 

Thank you to Cleopatra Matheos for the original version of this recipe.