I don’t cook soup very often as the winters in Greece are quite mild and cook some , maybe three of four times during the whole winter. On such occasions there are so many different soups to chose from, like trahanas, avgolemono, giouvarlakia, kreatosoupa (meat soup with beef and vegetables) or psarosoupa same as kreatosoupa but made with fish that we hardly make each one more than once a year.
The weather was very mild this year and until last week the temperatures were high, around 22 – 23 degrees C so this was another reason not to make soup.
The temperature has now dropped suddenly around 15 degrees and what better than a nice bowl of hot soup.
My all times favourite is trahanas soup. Trahanas is a traditional Greek and Cypriot dish that has passed from generation to generation. It is usually made in the villages which breed live stock. It is mainly prepared from cracked wheat flour and a goat milk curd that is fermented. It is then formed into small oval patties and dried whereas in Greece they usually sieve it into tiny pellets.
In Greece there are two kinds of trahanas, sour and sweet trahanas and apart from making soups they also use it in pies, “pites” to absorb the fluids. In Cyprus, as far as I know there is only one kind of trahanas and that is the sour one. In Cyprus they make trahanas by using ewe’s or goat milk which is prepared by pouring it into large earthenware containers or churns and leaving it to turn sour while turning it into a clean churn every day for about a week. On the last day, it is put on to boil with wheat and salt.
Then it is allowed to set and cool and soup can be made with trahanas, fresh as it is. When we were children we loved to eat it, before it was cooked. In the picture below you can see the fresh trahanas.
In order to preserve it for the winter, it is then shaped, and spread onto traditional shallow baskets, called tsestos or on long trestle tables or on clean sheets and left in the sun to dry.
The number of days depends on how hot the sun is. Then trahanas is stored and is used until the following year. From experience I must say that the best way to store the dried trahanas is in the refrigerator, otherwise if left outside the fridge after a long time you might get some tiny worms called “appitouria” in it.
When Trahanas is boiled just as it is, it is served very hot with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Alternatively it may be boiled in chicken stock, with fresh tomato (this is regional) and halloumi, which makes it much tastier and creamy.
This tasty and nutritious soup is preferred by most of the Cypriots as a comfort dish but lots of years ago when they used to get up at dawn to go to their works they used to have it for breakfast.
Trahanas soup is a light, nutritious and a hearty dish, which makes it ideal for a light supper or after coming home at dawn after a night’s drinking out and having an upset stomach, or after recuperating from an illness.
Cypriot Trahanas Soup
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 6 cups water or chicken broth
- 1½ cups dried trahanas
- 3 slices halloumi cheese (cubed)
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and blended
- Salt (optional) and freshly ground pepper
- 2 slices white bread, cut up into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small clove garlic
- Salt and Pepper
- Heat the water or chicken broth and add trahanas, stirring occasionally until it dissolves. Add the tomato as well as halloumi and boil for about 30 minutes.
- Taste and season accordingly, as broth and halloumi are both salty.
- Serve very hot with croutons and freshly ground black pepper on top.
The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of my e-cookbook, sold on all Amazon stores.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,