Hot soup is an irreplaceable dish, especially in winter, when even Cypriots often feel a need to warm up. And we were not surprised to find both unusual and delicious soups among many traditional Cypriot recipes. All of these soups are special: egg and lemon soup is usually cooked for the Easter dinner, trahana soup is made of local wheat groats and goat milk. Vegetable soups are made from fresh local ingredients, and traditional fish soups are full of seafood provided by Cypriot fishermen.
Recipes of 10 popular traditional Cypriot soups are given below.
Trahana soup is an island special. It is made from goat milk, local wheat groats, lemon juice (which, to be fair, Cypriots add in almost all dishes they make), species and, sometimes, chicken meat.
Trahana soup preparation is also unusual. Cypriots cook it thick, to reach almost wheat cream consistency, then cool it down, model it into something like small sausages and dry them. Before serving trahana sausages are poured over with boiling water and seasoned with yogurt and grated Halloumi cheese. If you decide not to «dry» trahana and eat it immediately it will also taste perfect.
Garlic and spices to taste
To make trahana soup at home, buy several dried tarhana sausages at the farm market or village-style shop in Cyprus: 1-2 sausages usually make one serving. Soak tarhana sausages in cold water for one night. Then prepare chicken broth and take the meat out. Add soaked tarhana sausages and chopped chicken meat to the broth, bring it to the boil and cook until it looks like very thick milk-wheat soup. Add lemon juice and grated Halloumi cheese before serving.
Avgolemono is a traditional Greek soup which is made from chicken broth, egg-yolks, lemon juice and rice.
Avgolemono is also sometimes used as an egg-lemon sauce which goes with vegetables, dolma, artichokes, noisette or pork, but is less common in Cyprus.
Chicken broth with vegetables
Rice: ¾ cup per serving
Salt and pepper: to taste
Prepare chicken broth with vegetables: you can add carrots, onions, celery and, of course, favorite spices. When broth is done, take the meat out and put it away (you will use it later), filter the liquid to get rid of vegetables and bring it to the boil again. Add rice and cook until a little overdone.
Squeeze one or two lemons in a bowl. Separate egg-yolks and whip them, gradually adding the lemon juice. Continue whipping, adding a little bit of hot soup (without rice). Then pour the egg-lemon mix into the pot with soup and bring it to the boil.
Serve with chicken meat and a cheese plate.
Fakes is a vegetarian Greek soup made from lentils: it is considerably easy to cook, homie and perfect to warm up during the coldest of winter nights. To make fakes more filling, you can use chicken broth instead of water.
Lentils: 3-4 tablespoons
Vegetables: an onion, a carrot, a sweet pepper
1-2 cloves of garlic
Tomato paste: 1 tablespoon
Salt, pepper, oregano, dill, bay leaf: to taste
Prepare one liter of water or filtered chicken broth and bring it to the boil. Add diced potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roast chopped onion, carrot and sweet pepper in olive oil, with the addition of tomato paste or a peeled fresh tomato. Add roasted veggies to the soup. Rinse lentils, add them to the pot and cook for 15-25 (depending on how pureed you want the soup to be) minutes. After the heat is turned off, add finely chopped garlic and dill, some butter and, if desired, stripes of bacon or ribs.
Serve with lemon slices.
Kakavia is a Greek fisherman’s soup made from local pan fish and large fish: sculpin, rockfish, grouper, dorado. Cypriots make it with spices, onions, tomatoes and olive oil.
Local pan fish and large fish
Onions, potatoes, tomatoes
Spices: to taste
To make a broth, heat a ceramic pot with water, add chopped onions and tomatoes, and pour a half glass of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Simmer until onion is cooked.
Add cleaned and scaled pan fish to the broth and cook for 10-15 minutes, then remove the fish and vegetables, strain the broth and heat it once again.
Scale the large fish and add it to the soup along with finely chopped parsley. Cook for 10-15 minutes until done.
Serve kakavia in deep bowls with wheat-bread toasts. Sometimes Cypriots serve the large fish alongside the soup.
Hortosupa (vegetable soup)
Cypriot vegetable soup is easy to cook and does not require any unusual ingredients. The only secret of its taste is fresh local vegetables.
Meat or chicken broth
Celery: several stalks
Rice: ¼ cup
Lemon juice, salt, and pepper: to taste
Wash and chop potatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini and tomatoes. Chop an onion and make sure its amount is half as much as all other vegetables.
Bring previously cooked broth to the boil and add all the vegetables except potatoes and tomatoes. Cook until the water is boiling again, then add potatoes, tomatoes, rice, salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes (until rice and potatoes are done).
Add fresh lemon juice right before serving.
Chickpea soup originates from the Middle East. In Cyprus, it is often cooked during the Lent, as one of the most nutritious dishes without meat.
Chickpeas: 2 cups
Tahini paste: 4 tablespoons
Wheat bread: ½ loaf
Garlic: several cloves
Salt: to taste
It is highly recommended to soak chickpeas in cold water for the night before cooking. The next day, wash chickpeas thoroughly, put them into a deep pan with water and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for an hour and a half, until tender. Drain chickpeas in a colander and grind in a blender. Keep the chickpeas broth warm on a low heat.
Mix tahini paste, salt, garlic and lemon juice in a separate bowl, add the mixture to the chickpeas puree and, once again, mix in a blender gradually pouring the broth in to reach a cream soup consistency.
Cup wheat bread in large pieces, place them on a plate and pour the soup on top.
Add finely chopped parsley, olive oil and several olives, lemon juice and pepper before serving.
Fasolada Bean Soup
Another fast soup popular on the island is made of beans and called fasolada. As in the previous recipe, beans are soaked for the night, but to make fasolada Cypriots also cover them with boiling-hot water. Then mushy beans are stewed with vegetables and tomato paste.
Dry beans: 500 gr
Celery: 3 stalks
1 chili pepper
Garlic: 2 cloves
1 large red onion
Olive oil: 2 tablespoons
Vegetable broth: 600 ml
Salt, pepper, coriander: to taste
Chop all the vegetables finely and roast them in a pan, beginning with onions. Add vegetable broth and previously parboiled, slightly tender beans. Simmer for 15 minutes. Towards the end of cooking time add salt, pepper, and spices. Then whisk the soup in a blender.
Cream of vegetables and beef soup
Cream-soups are common, but we do not often make them with meat. Here is one of these rare recipes.
Beef: 1 kilogram
1-2 medium-size onions
Salt and pepper: to taste
Chop the beef and cook in a pot of water for 20-30 minutes. Dice potatoes, carrots, celery and onions and add vegetables to the soup. Cook for another 20 minutes. To create a cream texture, take some vegetables out from the soup, mix them in a blender and pour back into the pot of soup.
Squeeze a lemon slice in the plate before serving.
Gardiosupa seafood soup
A review of traditional Cypriot soups could not be called completed without mentioning one of seafood soups served in most coastal restaurants on the island. Prawn soup gardiosupa is both easy and fast to cook.
Prawns: 1 kilogram
Vegetables: a carrot, a tomato, an onion
Greens: celery, parsley, green onion
Salt and pepper: to taste
Simmer a finely chopped carrot, celery and onions in water with 3 tablespoons of olive oil for 10 minutes. Then add cleaned prawns, chopped tomato, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and, optionally, a chili pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
Powder with chopped parsley before serving. To make a cream soup, blend the soup without prawns and serve them alongside.
Celery and mushroom soup
Celery: 1 kilogram
Porcini mushrooms: 250 gram
1 large onion
Garlic: 5 cloves
White wine: 1 small cup
Olive oil: 1 small cup
Salt and pepper: to taste
Peel and chop celery, wash and chop porcini mushrooms. Roast finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in a deep frying pan until onion is brown. Then add mushrooms and white wine and stew for several minutes.
Add celery and 1,5 liters of water (if the frying pan is not deep enough, replace all the ingredients in the pot). Add salt and pepper. Bring water to the boil, lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes.
Towards the end of cooking, squeeze two lemons in the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.