Trahana soup with chicken (Σούπα τραχανά με κοτόπουλο)

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Trahana soup with chicken

A Greek alternative to chicken noodle soup

Cold winter months, bone-chilling rainy days, and work weeks so long they make you feel beaten down, are all made better with a nice bowl of comfort.  In many families that often means chicken noodle soup, and although we would never dispute the claim that this popular soup can cure many ills, we would like to add another option to the mix.  This trahana soup with chicken was the chicken noodle soup of our childhoods;  the meal we were presented with when under the weather, stressed from school or just needing a quick way to be nourished and satisfied.

Trahana soup with chicken

The origin of trahana is somewhat disputed; some argue that this ancient food originated in Greece, while others claim that Turkey or Persia introduced trahana to the world.  Regardless of who ate it first, today trahana is eaten in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, and many consider trahana to be the traditional soup of Cyprus.  Versions of this meal are also very popular in Crete (where it is called xinohondros).  

Our parents are neither Cypriot nor Cretan, and still trahana was often prepared in our home. We either enjoyed it in the trahana soup with chicken presented here or in a trahana soup with feta or a tomato-based soup made with sour trahana.  

Trahana is essentially a hard pasta made of cracked wheat, bulgur or flour that is shaped a little like couscous when you purchase it.  When buttermilk or yogourt are added, you get sour trahana.  When whole milk is added instead, you end up with a sweet trahana, and that is the one used in this recipe. 

There are cooks who make their own trahana by making dense masses of the simple ingredients, allowing them to dry thoroughly (often in the sun) and then breaking them up into small pieces. Often times, these small pieces are further passed through a fine metal sieve, to create the pebble like texture you often find in Greek grocers.  Making trahana was, and in some places probably still is, a great way to preserve milk and other dairy when it is plentiful for times when it is more scarcely available.

Trahana soup with chicken

Helpful hints

Our parents are awesome, but they do not make their own trahana, opting instead to purchase it from our local Greek grocery store.  If you are going to purchase your trahana to make this recipe, be sure to select the sweet trahana.  Also, read the ingredient list carefully.  Although traditionally trahana does not include eggs, we found several varieties which do.  Important to know if you happen to have an egg allergy.

Trahana soup with chicken

Trahana likes to stick to the bottom of your pot when cooking. For this reason, it is important to stand by your stove and stir frequently.  Luckily, the total cooking time is not too long! As your soup cooks you may find that you need to add more water so go ahead and do so.  Your final product should be a soup as pictured, not thick like a porridge.

The chicken breast needs to be shredded after cooking before returning it to your soup. The best way we have found to shred chicken breast is to use two forks.  Insert the tines of the forks into the chicken and pull apart until your chicken is shredded.  You can alternatively dice up your chicken breast into bite sized cubes.

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Trahana soup with chicken

Looking for more comfort soups? How about these:

Cream of tomato soup

Fasolatha

Fakes

Trahana soup with chicken

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Trahana soup with chicken
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5 from 1 vote

Trahana soup with chicken

Trahana soup with chicken is a Greek alternative to chicken noodle soup!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Light meal, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Chicken, chicken soup, Easy
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 224kcal
Author: Mia Kouppa

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, skinless
  • 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 stalk celery, cut in half
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup sweet trahana
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated mizithra see notes

Instructions

  • Place water in a pot and add the chicken breast, carrot and celery.
    1 chicken breast, skinless, 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and cut in half, 1 stalk celery, cut in half, 7 cups water
  • Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for approximately 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and set aside.  Remove the celery and carrot and set aside (you will not be using these vegetables for the soup any longer).
  • Strain the liquid into another pot and bring it to a boil.  Once boiling, add the trahana, the olive oil and the salt and pepper.  Lower the heat to a low-medium and cook, stirring regularly.  You may need to add more water as the trahana cooks and thickens.  The trahana should be ready in about 10 minutes.
    1 cup sweet trahana, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste
  • Meanwhile, while the trahana is cooking, shred your chicken breast.  Then, a few minutes before the trahana is done, add the chicken to the pot.
  • Serve warm, with mizithra on the side to be sprinkled on top of the soup.
    1/4 cup grated mizithra
  • Enjoy!

Notes

If you can’t find Greek mizithra cheese, you can replace with parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 696mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2610IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg

7 responses to “Trahana soup with chicken (Σούπα τραχανά με κοτόπουλο)”

  1. Mostly Greek (Dorie) Avatar

    My mother told me how my Yiayia would take the trahana (always made with sour milk) and crumble it over bed sheets to lay out in the sun to dry. Then my mom would have to grate the larger chunks into small pieces when they wanted to cook them. Sometimes this was all they had to eat during the winter!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      It was a hard time for them, for sure! Bless their hearts..

  2. indianeskitchen Avatar

    OMG this sounds wonderful and what a great idea!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Thank you so much Diane! It’s so simple, yet so so good 🙂

  3. Kanella Sclavounos Avatar
    Kanella Sclavounos

    My grandmother in Greece may she Rest In Peace used to make Trahana and hilopites from scratch like someone commented that’s all they had at times.This recipe is definitely going to tried out soon I love trahana and grew up eating it all the time!!!Thank you I will be making this!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hope that you love it Kanella! Our parents used to make hilopites from scratch but we don’t remember them ever making trahana from scratch. Although they tell us that they did in the village 🙂 Hope you enjoy the soup! xoxo Helen & Billie

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