A hearty and humble soup made of nutrient packed mung beans
One of us loves beans; loves to eat them, loves to buy them, and loves to store them in her pantry in pretty glass jars where their various colours, adorable shapes and infinite possibilities can be admired. It was this love of beans, and a commitment to capturing as many of our parents’ recipes as possible, that had us inquire about a soup which we had vague and disturbing memories of. We remembered a childhood where a soup of little green beans was served, and the sadness which it elicited. When we asked our parents about it, they immediately knew what we were talking about. Psilofasola (also called rovitsa) is a Greek soup made of mung beans (pronounced moong) and it is a staple around Kalamata, Messinia, which is near where our parents were raised.
A simple pasta soup made with thin noodles and flavoured with a touch of olive oil
Growing up Greek, our chicken noodle soup was called fide. To be honest, it was a little different than your traditional chicken noodle soup; for one thing, it had no chicken. It also had no chicken broth, no vegetables and no herbs. In fact, fide (also spelled fithe) is nothing more than a noodle soup, cooked in water, flavoured with olive oil, sometimes sprinkled with a bit of mizithra, and ready to comfort every bit of your soul.
Cold winter months, bone-chilling rainy days, and work weeks so long that 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 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.
This nutritional powerhouse of a soup will have you feeling great, and full!
If you are a regular reader of Mia Kouppa, you may already be aware that we have a love affair with black-eyed peas. We are actually fond of all things bean and legume, but the darling black-eyed pea holds a special place in our hearts…because it is so darn cute. Take a good look at these beans, with their perfect small shape and perfectly situated black “eye” and we’re pretty sure you will agree, they are adorable! Still, if you’re more mature than us and not that interested in appearances, we think we can convince you to love black-eyed peas anyways, because they are delicious, versatile and so, so good for you.
We each have vivid memories of returning home after spending time at a non-Greek friend’s house and telling our parents about the unusual and often delicious foods we had eaten there. We were both pretty adventurous and rarely refused anything which was offered to us. We were especially intrigued by food which came from a can…because this was not something you ever saw in our childhood kitchen. We were amazed at the convenience, the variety, the flavour, and the colourful labels and whimsical names that were stacked high in our friends’ pantries. When we went grocery shopping with our parents we would search for these cans in the aisles and try to convince them to buy them for us. It rarely worked. Instead, our parents would read the labels, (often asking us to translate what was written) and say Θα το κάνουμε καλύτερα (We’ll make it better). This was how we ended up with Greek-style beef ravioli, home-made alphabet noodle pasta, and this cream of tomato soup.
We don’t know about you, but we’re supposed to be having spring like weather here in Canada. It seems that someone didn’t get the message. In the span of a few hours this afternoon we experienced a tiny bit of sun, snow, hail and rain. What ever happened to April showers bringing May flowers? Hail is not showers!
Since we can’t control the weather (we have tried, promise!), we can at least control how we live with it. Our winter coats are still accessible, as are our boots and hats. We’ve kept the salt out for de-icing the driveway and our beds are still incredible cozy with our woollen blankets and duvets. And in the kitchen, we’ve been leaning towards winter weather food, comforting for body and soul…like this deliciously soothing yiouverlakia soup flavoured with avgolemono and tomato. Bring it on April…we can take you! Actually, we’re just kidding…we can hardly take this anymore! We are dreaming of spring, and salads!
A few months ago, while we were scrolling through Pinterest, we came across recipes for porcupine meatballs. Intrigued, and slightly horrified, we investigated and were pleased to discover that these are not made of porcupine meat. In fact, porcupine meatballs are just regular meatballs with rice added to the mix; because the rice kind of pokes out of the cooked meatballs, they appear prickly, like porcupines. Cute. We grew up with something kind of similar, although the Greek version doesn’t have such a silly name; in Greek households they are called yiouvarlakia.
Some days we wish we could serve our families cold cereal for supper…maybe with a banana and spoonfuls of peanut butter on the side, to have the whole thing feel more balanced. Ugh…who are we kidding! Frankly, some days, this is exactly what we do, and we refuse to be ashamed! We will not deny it! Unless our mother calls, in which case we will tell her that we are having roasted chicken and potatoes, or makaronia with kima .
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!
Most of the recipes we have shared thus far come from our childhood, but our parents’ cooking has evolved. As years rolled by they would introduce new meals into their repertoire and onto our family table. This chickpea soup for example, despite being a staple in many Greek homes, was not something that we had as little children. In fact, we think we were both teenagers when our parents first served us a bowlful of this delicious meal. This led to a pretty significant “Huh?!” moment.