December is so busy! The kids are gearing up for mid-year exams, and the Christmas holidays are certainly keeping us on our no-time-for-a-pedicure toes. Between work parties, Christmas decorating, holiday shopping, and of course, baking melomakarona, kourabiethes and koulourakia, there is hardly enough time in the day. Regular life does not end; work, school, feeding our families don’t take a break for Christmas. It may sound as though we are complaining…but we’re really not. We are simply realists, and we accept that sometimes, something’s gotta give. That’s when super simple recipes, like this hilopites soup, come in to save the day!
Ready in about 15 minutes, these hilopites are a great, easy, and delicious way to satisfy hungry mouths. It may not be the most well balanced meal, but it’s close (don’t hang your head in shame…you will notice your un-pedicured feet, and be sad); close is sometimes as good as it gets. Just put out a dish of carrot sticks or some olives, and call it a day (speaking of days…what day is it?).
Hilopites are a Greek egg pasta, shaped in small squares. They are adorable, truly. It’s been years, but we remember growing up, that our parents would make their own hilopites. They would spend the day with aunts and uncles making these noodles. After the dough was made and the hilopites cut into small squares (all done by hand of course), they would place bed sheets, designated for this purpose, on all the beds in the house. They would then spread the hilopites on the sheets, and leave them there, for hours until they dried. During that time, our home would smell of dough and goodness. We are hoping that our parents agree to make a fresh batch of hilopites with us, so that we can learn how it’s done…and then you can learn too!
You can usually find hilopites in Greek or Mediterranean grocery stores, and even on-line. However, if you happen to be visiting Greece, or know someone who is, you can always ask them to forget the souvenir keychain and bring back some hilopites instead. Hilopites from Greece, especially when home-made, are a luxurious treat.
There are many ways to enjoy these lovely little egg noodles, and this simple soup, with the humblest of ingredients, is very popular in the Peloponnese. Because of the simplicity of the recipe, using dry (aged) mizithra is really important. Mizithra is a cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk, and whey. It can be hard to find however. Therefore, as in other recipes, like our spaghetti with olive oil and mizithra, you can always substitute equal parts parmesan and romano for the mizithra…but it won’t be the same. It may still be delicious, but it will be a different delicious.
You will notice that there is very little salt added to this soup. This is because mizithra itself is quite salty. If you are like us, and like to add mizithra by the heaping handful, any extra salt may be too much. Use your discretion, and your taste buds, and adjust the salt quantity to your liking.
This soup will thicken slightly as it sits. If you will be enjoying it the next day, simply add a little more water as you are heating it up.
Mia Kouppa: Hilopites soup
- 1 cup hilopites
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup grated mizithra (or to taste)
- In a medium sized pot, bring the water to a boil.
- Add the hilopites and turn the heat down to medium. Cook, stirring regularly, until the hilopites are cooked and are a soft consistency. This should take approximately 10 minutes.
- Add the olive oil and salt to the pot. Mix well.
- Serve, and divide the mizithra equally amongst all servings, by sprinkling it on top of the soup. Enjoy.