Soups - 'Greece's Hearty Winter Warmers'

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Contrary to what a lot of visitors to Greece in the heat of summer believe, Greece does have cold winters! There is nothing quite like a hearty bowl of soup served with one of the lovely, crusty Greek breads to warm one on those chill days. Quick and easy to make, soups are healthy, provide energy and are jam-packed with flavour and vitamins to shield from seasonal flu. There are various types of soups; vegetable, meat, fish, chicken or ones made from pulses namely beans, lentils and chickpeas.  

 

Below are favourite Greek soup recipes. Perfect for those cold days, the traditional Greek soups with their delicious Mediterranean flavours are sure to please. For those who are Greek, recipes are not required! For the rest of us, here are the basic outlines: -

 

Vegetable soups are one of the most beneficial soups as they are packed with nutrients that boost the immune system. Boil your vegetables in salted water i.e. onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes, potatoes. Season and add oregano and olive oil. Serve as a broth with some croutons or blend to make a soup with a creamy consistency.

 

 Photo courtesy of Pexels

 

Meat soups are ideal for boosting the immune system and guarding against seasonal flu. Particularly energizing, they are an ideal meal for those recovering from a cold as well. They are usually made with veal and diced carrots, potatoes, celery and onions. Stew the meat, add the vegetables, olive oil and seasoning. When cooked remove the meat and vegetables, strain the broth, remove any bones and pour the broth, meat and vegetables back into the pot. Now add rice, milk or yogurt, orzo or pasta.

 

Mageiritsa is a traditional Greek meat soup served at midnight after the breaking of Lent. It is made with finely chopped lamb entrails, fresh onions, dill and lettuce. Rice is added and then lastly the avgolemono. There are variations with chicken, mushrooms or artichokes for those who do not appreciate offal.

 

Photo courtesy of thegreekfood.com

 

Greek Patsa soup is traditionally eaten after a long night of drinking, partying or working. This beef soup is considered good for settling the stomach. The seasoned beef is stewed till tender, the broth drained and bones extracted then returned to the pot. Patsa soup is served with skordostoumpi (mashed garlic cloves in vinegar) and hot pepper.

 

Kakavia is the traditional Greek ‘fishermen’s soup’. The soup’s broth used to be made by boiling various fish, (bream, angler fish, red fin perch, scorpion fish), the catch of the day, in seawater. They would add a cup of olive oil and lemon juice to the broth to make a creamy soup. Fish caught in their nets would be cooked in their boats or on the shore. Traditionally kakavia was made without the addition of vegetables but carrots, celery, zucchini, onions, potatoes and fresh tomatoes are now often added.

 

Pulses are rich in protein, iron and calcium and a popular ingredient in the Mediterranean diet as they are cost effective. Beans, lentils and chickpeas are just some of the pulses produced in Greece. Bean soup, fasolada, is a delicious, hearty soup and one of the most popular, staple winter warmers in Greece. On the Pelion it is served with village sausage as a side dish or with it sliced and added to the soup. Tomato, lemon, feta, olives, anchovy, herring or salami can also be added.

 

Greek Style Egg and Lemon Soup (Avgolemono) 

Ingredients:

2 -3 eggs

Broth (usually chicken)

1 -2 lemons lemon juice

 

Photo courtesy of thegreekboston.com 

Method:

To make the soup, use 2 or 3 eggs, or only the egg yolks. The most sensitive part of an egg is the white, because heat cooks it much more rapidly than egg yolks.

To avoid this problem, work as follows:

Prepare a simple soup, a bouillon broth. Remove from the heat and let stand. Squeeze the juice of 1-2 lemons. Beat the eggs in a bowl, slowly adding the lemon juice. Take one ladleful of broth from the soup and add to the beaten eggs. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of flour to the beaten eggs. Beat well with a fork and gradually pour the mixture into the soup, stirring constantly. (The egg yolks can be beaten separately from the white, combining them afterwards to add to the soup, stirring all the while). Typically, rice, orzo, pasta, or tapioca are also cooked in the broth before the mixture of eggs and lemon is added. Its final consistency varies from near-stew to near-broth.

 

Fasolada (White Bean) Greek Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

1 lb. white beans

1 cup canned or fresh tomatoes

1/2 cup tops, chopped celery

2 finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

3 small, diced carrots

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste

3 tablespoons fresh chopper herbs, such as parsley or chives

 

 Photo courtesy of greekboston.com

Method:

Wash the beans well and let them soak in water overnight. Drain off the water and put in a saucepan with 8 cups of cold, fresh water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour on low heat. Add remaining ingredients and cook gently for about an hour or until the beans and vegetables are tender. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs, if desired.

 

Greek Style Fish Soup (Psarosoupa Avgolemono) 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, quartered
  • 3 1/2 lbs. fish, bone in
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice

 

Photo courtesy of greekboston.com

Method:

Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and set the heat to medium. Add onions, celery, and carrots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile clean and wash the fish. Pat it dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then add the fish to the pot.  Fill the pot with water so that the fish is completely covered; with at least 8 cups of water in the pot. Cover the pot and bring the contents to a boil on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, set the heat on low and simmer it for 45 minutes. Remove the fish, strain the broth through a colander and return to the pot. Add the rice and stir with a fork. Cover the pot and cook the rice and the broth on medium heat. When the rice has cooked, beat 2 eggs, slowly adding the juice of 1-2 lemons and some broth from the pot and pour the mixture in the pot, stirring constantly, over low heat. Once the soup is cooked, you can either serve the fish separately or remove the meat from the bones and put the meat back into the soup.

 

There are variations of soups that are found all over Greece and also a variety of ingredients which are area specific, dependent on availability. Generally vegetable broth or chicken broth forms the stock. There is also a variation of the herbs used i.e. fresh parsley or dill substituted for mint or oregano on islands where these herbs grows in abundance.

 

The list of Greek soups is endless and includes fava (yellow split pea), tomato, lentil, chickpea, cabbage, onion, milk, sesame, bread, pasta, cod, mussel, shrimp and tomato and chestnut as some of the favoured choices. Whether you are fortunate enough to live in Greece, visit Greece during the beautiful, yet cold, winter months or simply wish to savour the delicious flavours of the Greek soups by making them at home, you will not be disappointed. They are soul food served in a bowl!

 

Recipes courtesy of GreekBoston.com

Main photo courtesy of Pexels

Adelia Cook for MyKerkyra.com 

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