Deliciously Dodecanese Daringly Different Decidely Soup

My next article, Part IV of the Olive oil series, was slotted in for today, but this one contains recipes where Greek olive is used so abundantly that I felt this would be more suitable here.

I don’t think that there is anyone in the world that does not know the Dodecanese or where they are situated simply because they are one of the most yearned for holiday destinations there are. Many of us would give our eye-teeth to be in a position to spend the rest of our lives on one of the islands.

Patmos, the island where the Apostle John spent the last years of his life and where the Book of Revelations was inspired, Kálimnos, pictured below and famous for sponge fishing, Rhodos where the medieval Knights of St John held sway and Kos with it’s strong Turkish presence are but a few of the many islands, yet they all serve to illustrate the complex and vibrant nature of these islands and thus of Greece and Greek food today.

Rhodos, in particular, fascinates me.  Two thousand years before the birth of Christ the island was inhabited by the Phoenicians and Canaanites, then around 1700 BC, the Greek Minoans lived there and 250 years later, the Peloponnese spent time there until the Dorians kicked them out in 1150 BC.  Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans followed until 1912 to 1943 when the Dodecanese belonged to Italy.  Naturally in 1943 – 1945 the islands were briefly captured by the Germans but the Greeks finally had their property returned to them on the 31st of December 1947.

The positive effect of the turmoil and cultural intermingling on the Dodecanese cuisine cannot be measured easily and the food has to be tasted for it to be understood. It is vastly superior to anything found on the mainland.  Naturally I will be crucified for saying this and naturally my friend Sam will slay me, but I really believe this.

The national dish of the Greeks is fasoláda, a bean soup. The art of making this correctly is usually passed from mother to daughter and recipes are as jealously guarded as secret scientific formulae. It is not as simple as it looks and certainly tests one’s cooking skills.  Over and above this, the Greeks love soup passionately and judging by the number exquisite Greek soups that I have eaten over the years, they certainly have to be the leaders in their field. Kakaviá (image at the top), for it’s simplicity yet simultaneous sophistication, it’s supreme freshness and it’s versatility, is my absolute favourite – it cannot be included in any list, not even the one of the ten most loved below, because I rate it so far above them all.

Fasoláda (Bean Soup)

500 g dried navy beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 small stick of rosemary
10 huge tomatoes, peeled
3 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 lemons, zest and juice
3 medium carrots, finely sliced
250 ml Greek olive oil
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight.
Drain and wash, then boil for about 40 minutes with the rosemary and a tiny amount of salt, rinse and drain again.
Throw away the rosemary.
Put in a clean pot, add fresh water, all the vegetables, a little salt, pepper, 150 ml of oil, the zest and boil for an hour.
Take from the heat, check and correct the salt and then add the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice to taste.

Khortósoupa

An decadently delicious lemon infused vegetable soup made with far too much butter, fresh vegetables, new potatoes, fresh herbs, peppers and pasta ( or in some circumstances even barley).

Youvarlákia

Eggs and lemons create a creamy base that lifts this soup right out of the ordinary. It is lightly thickened with rice always concealing the herb infused meat balls turning it into a hearty meal fit for any dinner party.

Soup

500 g minced beef
100 g Arborio rice
1 medium onion, peeled and pureed
125 ml Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh bayleaf
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 lemons, zest only
1 egg

Mix the minced beef, uncooked rice, pureed onion, zest of 2 lemons, salt and pepper with the whole raw egg in a bowl. Mix well and form little meatballs by hand, remembering to oil your hands well with olive oil to prevent them from sticking.
Boil water in a saucepan filled well with water and the bay leaf, adding some olive oil to the water. Now slide the meatballs into the water so that they can simmer in the water, on medium heat, for about 40 minutes to ensure that both meatballs and rice are cooked.
Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf and stir in the avgolémono gently, check and correct the salt and pepper, add the parsley and serve hot with bread

* You can add soured cream if you find it too thin for your taste.

Avgolémono

2 eggs, separated
Juice of the 2 lemons above (in soup recipe)
2 ½ cups stock from the main dish

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff.
Beat the egg yolks and add the lemon juice and the slightly cooled down stock to them bit by bit, stirring constantly.
Now add this sauce to the main dish and fold it in carefully but do not allow it to cook any further

Kreatósoupa

A clear and unusual meat soup, enriched with rice and flavoured with hearty vegetables, lemon and more than enough good Greek olive oil.

Revithósoupa

A chickpea soup, too good to keep to myself and with the recipe to follow:

500 g dried chickpeas
3 large onions, finely chopped
250 ml Greek olive oil
2 lemons, juice and zest
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of hot water.
Drain, mix in the bicarbonate of soda, set aside for about 10 minutes, rinse very well and put it in a pot of fresh, clean water.
Add onions to the pot and boil, removing the scum as it appears.
Simmer on low heat for about 2 ½ hours.
Check the water, adding more boiling water, should this become necessary.
Just before the chickpeas are soft, add the zest and the olive oil, check and correct the salt and add ground pepper to taste.
Now put back on the stove and bring to the boil whilst drizzling the lemon juice strictly to taste.

Domatósoupa

A very buttery tomato soup made with pasta and for those of you that have no cholesterol problems, love both tomato and pasta and have little time – an essential addition to the soup repertoire.

2 kgs beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, quartered and strained
1 liter clear meat stock (not a stock cube)
200 g pasta (small soup pasta is traditionally used, but I use a mixture of both soup pasta and whatever I feel like on that particular day)
100 grams butter
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the meat stock in a pot and add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 25 minutes until it thickens.
Add the pasta and boil until it is soft.
Remove the pot from the heat, add the butter and chopped parsley.
Serve with hot fresh bread.

Fakes

Baked brown lentils form the basis of this thick soup, enriched  with tomatoes and spiced with bay leaves.

Kremmidósoupa me tirí

Barrels of butter, kefalotíri cheese, onions and bread are expertly turned into a thick and oh so fashionable soup meal, ideal for cold winter days!

Mayirítsa

This Greek soup is traditionally eaten at Easter in the early hours of the morning shortly after the midnight Easter service. Using what is left over after the lamb for the main meal has been cut up, this hugely interesting soup made from organ meat, rice, dill and lemon accustoms the stomach to meat after weeks of abstaining from it.

Patsás

Tripe is not everyone’s favourite – but for the tripe lovers amongst us, and there are many, here is the soup above soups.
I saw, in a patsatzídiko once, the biggest soup tureen that could possibly exist anywhere in the world, filled with this shockingly, surprisingly, aromatic, golden liquid made with tripe, onions, garlic and lemon and drizzled so continuously with the skordostoúmbi * that it seemed as if there was no end to it.
*(garlic and vinegar sauce that they had made the day before in a specific manner)

Should anyone need any recipe, simply ask for it by giving us the name of the soup you require in the comments section below.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Deliciously Dodecanese Daringly Different Decidely Soup

  1. Lisa

    I see you have an alliterati0n thing going with your titles😉 sweet! These soups are just the thing for those of us who are grieving after the end of summer this side of the hemisphere…

  2. It’s been very long since someone referred to me as “sweet”, but thanks anyway.

    As for the titles, they all applied and it was 3h00 in the morning, so I threaded them all together!

  3. Just remember my offer, all recipes are available upon request.

  4. Grey Roger

    The look of the Domatósoupa had my mouth watering here in cold George. One of the attractions of many of your recipes is the pastas you include like this one. Do you make your own or is there a pasta shop in Cape Town I should visit on my next trip?

  5. I hate reading your blog! It always makes me so hungry!

    The Youvalákia soup sounds really good and if you have time, I’d love the recipe. It’s getting a little cool here and soup is sounding good—can almost picture myself making little meatballs in the cozy kitchen…

  6. All fresh pasta is made at home but Giovanni’s in Greenpoint is a shopper’s dream! Do drop me a line and I’d happily help.

    I’ll slip in the recipe underneath it’s heading🙂

  7. mark

    My word! such great recipes , i could spend days in the kitchen trying them all,thanks

  8. I love soup and I can’t decide which I like best, I think the chickpeas, no the lemon vegetables, no… oh what the hell, I love them all!

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