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.
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!
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.
So here’s a recipe you will either love, or hate; we don’t think there is any in-between (although we suppose you can also love to hate it). Trahana is an ancient food, whose origins are somewhat disputed; some argue that it 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. In fact, 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 we were subjected to served this soup often growing up.