July 27, 2014

Summer Soup in the Land of Aphrodite?

Filed under: Cookbook review,History and culture,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 7:04 pm

Nitsa souvlaCypriot chicken soup

No!  Here you see Nitsa, in the village of Choulou in South Cyprus, tending meat (mostly pork) for a souvla she is cooking up for me, my old school chum Anne, and a table full of delightful expats.  “Nitsa,” I said, “tell me about Cypriot soup.”  “I don’t make soup,” she replied. “Nobody wants it–it’s too hot.”

She was certainly right about that.  With no air conditioning, no screens on the windows, and a relentlessly blazing sun in a clear blue sky,  it was witheringly hot.  We would get up at 6 am, hike in the hills and dales of  Ezousa valley, below Mt. Olympus and the Troodos mountains, then either siesta through the day or climb into the blessedly air conditioned car to go adventuring.  Yes to see the ruins of ancient Paphos, including the pillar where St. Paul was reputedly chained and whipped.  Yes to see the spot where Aphrodite was born of sea foam–and explore Sanctuaries to both Apollo and Aphrodite.  Yes to monasteries and churches and abandoned mosques and wineries and Mediterranean beaches and ruins from the 4000 BC Chalcolithic era.  Yes to medieval castles and the remains of Kourion.  Yes to late-night performances of Media, Philoctetes, and Lysistrata in Greek and Roman theaters.

But no soup, despite my best efforts.  Finally in Pissouri we found a restaurant that had chicken and tomato soups on the menu.  And I got what I deserved:  canned chicken broth thickened with flour, absolutely awful.  Let me repeat it:  NO SUMMER SOUP IN THE LAND OF APHRODITE.

But!  Southern Cyprus has a wealth of soups in more temperate seasons.  Nitsa told me about Avgolemeno (egg and lemon) and Trahana (wheat and sour milk). And Amaranth Sitas, in her cookbook Kopiaste describes meatball and fish Avgolemono, a traditional sour lentil soup for Good Friday, and Patcha, a soup made from lamb brain and tongue or lamb head.

Once home in my deliciously air conditioned house, I tried out Sitas’ Yavarlakia avgolemono, the meatball soup.  Delicious.

Yavarlakia avgolemono


  • 2/3 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1 egg
  • finely chopped mint or parsley
  • salt to taste
  • plate with some flour to roll the meatballs
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • For the Avgolemono:  2 eggs and the juice of 1 big lemon

Mix the meat, rice, beaten egg, mint/parsley, and salt, then form into very small balls (because the rice expands the size).  Roll lightly in flour.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot, then carefully add the meatballs.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes, until the rice is tender.  When ready to serve, take the soup off the heat and put to the side.  Beat the eggs and lemon juice for the avgolemono, then beat a cup or so of  hot soup into it, a little at a time.  Add this back into the soup, stirring so that the egg does not curdle.  Taste for seasoning–both salt and lemon–then ladle into bowls.  Garnish with a sprig of mint/parsley and serve extra lemon slices on the side.

A last word:  Nitsa told me she would teach me a soup when I came back in cooler weather.  Stay tuned!

June 30, 2014

Tico Knockout Soup

Filed under: Uncategorized — pat @ 7:22 pm

CR knockout round


Okay, I can’t help myself.  It was just an AMAZING game, with only 10 Ticos on the field, the last second Greek score to tie, the 30 minute overtime, then the fierce penalty kick off before Costa Rica secured the victory.  Just rush me to the cardiac clinic and be done with it. Instead, I celebrated with the undisputed national soup of Costa Rica:  Olla de Carne, from Guanacasta in the northwest, heartland of comida criolla.  Sandy, whose cookbook you see pictured, calls it “the feast dish for the Tico yokels.”  What better way to celebrate this unexpected advancement in World Cup 2014?  Every Costa Rican family has its own special recipe, often passed down from generation to generation–since I don’t have that luck, I have adapted Sandy’s recipe.  You can see the corn in it–which was introduced to Costa Rica in pre-Columbian times.  And note that it is often served with native beans and rice, the latter (along with the beef) brought to Costa Rica by the Spanish.

And speaking of the Spanish, it’s said this dish can be traced back to Cervantes’ mention of olla p0drida in Don Quixote back in 1615:  poor Sancho Panza is so upset when, in Part 2, chapter 47, he is successively denied a parade of hearty, lip-smacking dishes by a health-nut doctor, that he finally exclaims, “That big dish that is smoking farther off,” said Sancho, “seems to me to be an olla podrida, and out of the diversity of things in such ollas, I can’t fail to light upon something tasty and good for me.”  To which the good doctor replies, “Absit…far from us be any such base thought! There is nothing in the world less nourishing than an olla podrida; to canons, or rectors of colleges, or peasants’ weddings with your ollas podridas, but let us have none of them on the tables of governors, where everything that is present should be delicate and refined; and the reason is, that always, everywhere and by everybody, simple medicines are more esteemed than compound ones, for we cannot go wrong in those that are simple, while in the compound we may, by merely altering the quantity of the things composing them. But what I am of opinion the governor should cat now in order to preserve and fortify his health is a hundred or so of wafer cakes and a few thin slices of conserve of quinces, which will settle his stomach and help his digestion.”


  • 2 pounds beef short ribs (or other combination of beef and bones), with fat removed
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro (or cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves, chopped
  • 1 branch thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried, rubbed between your palms)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green plaintains, cut into big pieces
  • 2 ears of corn, cut into big pieces
  • 2 unripe chayotes, peeled, seeded, and cut into big pieces
  • 1 big carrot, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1 pound of white potatoes, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1 pound calabeza or other winter squash, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1/2 pound malanga (or tisique), peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1/2 pound brown taro (or nampi), peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1 pinch ground achiote
  • salt to taste

Bring the meat, garlic, cilantro, celery leaves, pepper, onion, thyme, and tomato to a boil in the 8 cups of water in a big pot.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and boil for an hour.  Check to see that the meat is becoming tender, then add the following pieces of prepared vegetables:  plaintains, chayotes, corn and malanga.  Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and boil for 20-30 more minutes.  Finally, add the remaining prepared ingredients: carrots, potatoes, squash, malanga, taro, sweet potato, achiote, and salt.  Return to a boil, reduce heat again, cover and boil for 20 more minutes.  Check to see that the vegetables are tender and taste for seasoning, then turn off the heat until ready to serve to a hungry and joyous crowd.

June 20, 2014

Tico Victory Soup

FIFACostaRica  Sopa de Pollo

How excited are Costa Ricans about the World Cup?  So excited that after the first grudge-match victory against Uruguay, a little Pino grocery in remote Northern Zone bedecked its entrance with balloon enthusiasm worthy of a stadium entrance.  Imagine what it’s done today, defeating Italy.  Wahoo!

I am just back from visiting family in San Jose and confess I have caught FIFA fever.  What better way to celebrate than with Sopa de Pollo, a soup so traditional and so revered that a local cookbook, Meals a la tica by “Sandy,” calls it “Old Hen Soup–It revives even the dead!”  I had a bowl (pictured) at La Choza de Laurel in La Fortuna, at the foot of Arenal volcano, and I can testify to the fact that it revived me, at least half dead from a long, dizzying drive through the Cordillera de Tilarán.  Just look at that scrumptious chicken soup, stuffed with corn, potato, yucca, chayote, carrot, peppers, onion, garlic, herbs and spices–and served with rice and hot corn tortillas on a banana leaf with homemade chilero (piquant, pickled veggies) and salsa lizano on the side.  The restaurant is also charming:  open-air, farmhouse style, chicken on the rotisserie, grandkids so happy after that long drive to be running out to the back barn to play with the kittens.  I recommend it if you are planning a trip (and you should!) to Arenal volcano.  Check it out at

As for the soup, well!  You don’t have to wait for a Costa Rican vacation to try it.  Here is Sandy’s recipe:


  • 1 stewing hen, plucked and cleaned
  • 9 cups water
  • 1/2 pound yuca, cut in pieces
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut in pieces
  • 1 green chayote, peeled and cut in pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut in pieces
  • 1 sweet red pepper, seeded and cut in pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • chopped cilantro, celery leaves, and thyme
  • 1 nest of angel hair pasta
  • pinch of achiote
  • salt to taste

Boil the chicken for an hour or more, until tender.  Remove chicken from pot and let cool while you skim the broth.  Add all the vegetables together, return to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  Shred the chicken and add it back into the pot with the herbs, pasta, achiote, and season to taste.  Cook 5-10 more minutes, until the pasta is cooked and the chicken heated, then ladle into large bowls with rice, corn tortillas, chileros, and hot sauce on the side.

Pura vida!




June 6, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Filed under: Restaurant review,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 6:42 pm


Boy, nothing as American as baseball…and tortilla soup?

It was the prettiest afternoon of the year yesterday when friend Mitch and I strolled over to National Park at the Navy Yard to watch my home team, with Natitude, thrash my old hometown team, the Philadelphia Phillies.  So hilarious in the 4th inning watching the bobblehead US Presidents Race from centerfield around first base to the Nats’ dugout.  Thomas Jefferson beat out George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and William Taft by a mile.  Even so, tough to see the Phils go down.

All that cheering and rooting on a hot day, no wonder we were hungry and thirsty after the game–and wanting to let the crowd thin.  Mitch came up with Agua 301, a  pretty new and upscale traditional Mexican restaurant/café right on the riverfront. And oh la la, the Chicken Tortilla Soup (pictured) was exquisite:  spiced shredded chicken arriving in the bowl…a side plate of avocado, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, and chile rajas…and a handsome waiter to swirl a beaker of guajillo tomato broth into the chicken.  Excellent presentation and complex layers of flavor, texture, and bite.  All the food was good, but it’s worth going to Agua 301 for this soup alone.  Read all about this place at

If you’re not in the area, though, and want to try your hand at making Sopa de Tortilla, you need to know that there are as many different variations of this classic Mexican soup as there are Mexican cooks and Mexican food enthusiasts.  The following recipe–admittedly simple–will give you a good start:


Garnishes: fried corn tortillas; small cubes of fresh cheese (queso fresco or farmer’s cheese) or Monterey Jack; fine chopped avocado; fine chopped red pepper, wedges of lime; and crumbled ancho.

First cut off the stem of the ancho, cut it in half, and throw out the seeds. Reserve 1/4 of the dried chile to use as garnish, then soak the rest of it in hot water.

In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until they are golden brown–as much as 12 minutes. Puree with the tomatoes and soaked ancho, then pour back into the saucepan with the stock. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

While broth is simmering, prepare tortillas. Traditionally, you cut day-old or dried-out corn tortillas in half, then slice the halves into thin strips–fry them on both sides in 1/3 cup of hot oil, until crisp–then drain. If time is of the essence, you can cheat with store bought.

When ready to serve, arrange cubed cheese and chopped pepper and chopped avocado in 4 flat soup bowls, then ladle over the broth, sprinkle each with the crumbled ancho, top with a mound of fried tortillas and serve with a lime wedge. The lime is important.

You’ll notice that this recipe uses the ancho chile of Michoacán. You want even hotter? Use hotter chiles. Also, I’ve selected a “pretty” combination of garnishes–but, traditionally, you can just use whatever cheese, vegetables, even chicken that you’ve got around. It’s the presentation of all these garnishes that makes it such a showstopper, as Agua 301 demonstrated. Serve hot to 4 as a substantial first course or as lunch.





May 27, 2014

Spring Soup Bliss in central France

Filed under: Restaurant review,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 2:12 am
Assembling the greens

Assembling the greens

Back in 2009, you saw my friend Catherine over a bowl of  Gratinee lyonnaise in the beautiful city of Lyon.  What I didn’t tell you is that she was the creator in 1989 (then the 10-year director) of the Taste Of Tasmania food festival in Australia; chef manager for the Baron Diego von Buch in the UK; Régisseur principal for Her Royal Highness, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg; and currently the owner and chef of an 11-room “Logis de France” hotel. L’Echalier, in Fussy, France.  Among other things! “Let’s,” I said when I was visiting this month, “make a marvelous soup in your kitchen to broadcast over soupsong.”  Catherine, a devotee of organic food and healthy living, said, “oh yes.  let’s make a very green tonic soup from the tops of my radishes, beets, and carrots and add some fresh-picked spinach.”  Isn’t she marvelous?  Doesn’t she put Nigella to shame?

Starting the soupGreens simmeringTonic tasting

Here Catherine is over the stove, mixing into the greens some water, chopped onions (two) and floury potatoes (two); blending; seasoning with salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg and tasting to get it exactly right.

taste test

And here I am in L’Echalier’s restaurant, so happy to be the taster.  Note the crusty bread from the boulangerie a few doors down.  Note the swirl of cream in the fresh soup.  (When she served this to customers, she splashed walnut oil and a toasted walnut on top.)  Note the glass of 2009 Vaucoupin Chablis, Premier Cru, Domaine Louis Robin.  Please note my assessment:  Deeply flavored, but light.  Tangy, earthy, bright, smooth.  And my recommendation:  Quick, run out and make this before spring is over! And, needless to say, I also recommend you consider a trip to this marvelous section of France, on the Cher river…close to the Loire valley…and popping with everything interesting from medieval towns, abbeys, priories, and gardens to one of the world’s largest radio telescopes, searching the universe for signs of extraterrestrial life.  L’Echalier is in the middle of everything, on La Route de Paris–great location…great hotel… great food…and Catherine! See rave reviews on; contact information as follows:

  • Mme. Catherine Brys’ L’Echalier
  • 30 Route de Paris
  • 18110 Fussy
  • +33 (0)2 48 69 31 72 (hotel)
  • +33 (0)6 37 51 78 57

Bon voyage et bon appetite!

May 2, 2014

Salman Rushdie, Always Full of Surprises

Filed under: History and culture,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 4:02 pm

TheJaguarSmile nicaragua bean soup

Who knew that Salman Rushie took a break from writing The Satanic Verses and traveled to Nicaragua in the summer of 1986 for three weeks?  He’d been invited by the Sandinista Association of Cultural Workers, which called itself “the umbrella organisation that brought writers, artists, musicians, craftspeople, dancers and so on, together under the same roof,” on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of the Sandinista rise to power.

His account of his travels is, of course, extremely interesting–and particularly so to me when in July, he visited the Enrique Acuña co-operative and lunched with five resettled campesinos.  “With the generosity of the poor,” he says, “they treated me to a delicacy at lunch.  I was given an egg and bean soup, the point being that these eggs were the best-tasting because they had been fertilized.  Such eggs were known as ‘the eggs of love.’  When people had so little, a fertilized hen’s egg became a treat.”

I could not wait to discover this recipe.

I looked through my Latin American cookbooks.  I scanned the library catalogs of DC’s Martin Luther King library and my local Falls Church library.  Almost as an afterthought I googled key words.  And there it was, on my very own website:

SOPA DE FRIJOLES (serve hot as a meal to 4 people)

This traditional soup of Nicaraguans–who generally prefer red beans to black–is both unusual and delicious.  The red bean puree is light and smooth, contrasting with the crisp onion, chunky red pepper, and bursts of intense pork from the chicharrones (pork rinds).  The poached egg on top enriches the soup–especially if it’s fertilized!–a yellow sun on a clay earth terrain.

  • 2 cups dried red beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
  • 8 cups water
  • 10 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons corn oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chicarrones (pork rinds)
  • 1 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste

Garnish: 4 eggs, fertilized if you can find them

Discard the soaking water and put the beans and garlic into a Dutch oven with the 8 cups of water. (You don’t want a narrow pot, because you’re going to poach 4 eggs in it at the end.)  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until soft, about an hour.  Purée and return to the pot.

Sauté the onions in the corn oil over medium heat until lightly crisp. Add the pork rinds, red pepper, and black pepper, and stir for a few minutes.  Scrape everything into the soup pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Season with salt.

When ready to serve, raise the heat to medium.  Carefully break the 4 eggs into different spots of the pot, where you see bubbles forming, then cover, and let poach for several minutes.  Carefully ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

Sopa de Frijoles is terrific–and just one of a vast repertoire of traditional Nicaraguan soups.  Stay tuned, for example, for August 27′s post on Nicaragua’s  famous Corn Island Crab Soup, celebrating the abolition of slavery in 1841 by order of England’s Queen Victoria and Mosquitia’s King Robert Charles Frederick.

April 23, 2014

Back to Bulgaria and Beyond

Filed under: History and culture,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 8:51 pm

Turkish cacikBulgarian tarator

From Turkish cacik cometh Bulgarian tarator, hallelujah!

In Franco Spain, Alice B. Toklas, lover of Gertrude Stein, took up a culinary mystery.  After sampling glorious bowls of gazpacho and not discovering  their origin, she rose to the challenge.  Comparing likenesses among Spanish gazpacho, Polish chlodnik, Turkish cacik, Greek [and Bulgarian] tarata, she crowed  in her 1954 cookbook “from murder to detection is not far. And here is a note on tracking a soup to its source…I came to the conclusion that recipes through conquests and occupations have travelled far.”

Her instincts were excellent; her conclusions suspect:  “Had the Poles passed the recipe to their enemy the Turks at the siege of Vienna or had it been brought back to Poland much earlier than that from Turkey or Greece?  Or had it been brought back by a crusader from Turkey?  Had it gone to Sicily from Greece and then to Spain?  It is a subject to be pursued.”  Talk about being off the mark.  But, hey, I also have made some really boneheaded guesses about the migration of recipes.  It’s nice to be in this fine woman’s company.

But, speaking of Bulgaria, let’s talk about the magic combination of cool cucumbers and yogurt that Alice observed in cacik and tarata–that are now staples of the Turkish and Balkan peninsulas.

Okay, still a best guess, but cukes and yogurt likely found each other in ancient times in southern India, where cukes were first cultivated, milk cultured, and raita born.  Ancient Greece soon cultivated both—and had lots of commerce with its sometime enemies Turkey (Troy) and Iran (Persia).   However the concept spread in ancient times, it is sure that Greece has had its tzatziki; Turkey its cacik; and Persia its mast-o kheeyar literally for ages.  And as noted  last week with supa topcheta, Ottoman Turks carried their cuisine to the far reaches of their empire: Bulgarians, Macedonians, Albanians, Serbians all have their own versions.

Turkish cacik (for 4-6 people on a hot summer night)

Cacik (pronounced Ja-JEEK) is, in fact, a salad…a meze dip…and, with a little cold water, a soup.  It means “everything green” as the basic white cucumber and yogurt combo is larded with herbs, often mint, dill, and thyme.  And it’s usually served in a small cup, almost as a drink to sip, to accompany a meal (scrumptious with grilled lamb, kebabs, etc.).  Here’s a good, representative recipe:

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon white grape or apple vinegar
  • 2 cups plain yoghurt
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons dill, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons mint, chopped

In a blender, puree the cucumber and garlic, then liquefy.  Toss in the dill, mint, salt, water, oil, and yogurt and blend on high.  Refrigerate until ice cold.  When ready to serve, traditionally as part of the main meal, pour into very small bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil and/or a pinch of ground sumac.

Bulgarian tarator (for  4-6 people)

So what’s all the fuss about Bulgarian tarator, if it’s just a variation of cacik?  The fuss, in fact, is the amazingness of Bulgarian yogurt.  On Bulgarian farms, whole milk is fermented with live Lactobacillus bulgaricus—instead of the usual Streptococcus thermophilus–and is further cultured by micro-organisms that are naturally present in the farmyard.  Alas, because of these special conditions, you can’t duplicate its creamy tartness, even if you use a  Lactobacillus bulgaricus culture with your processed milk.  But do use the highest quality yogurt you can.  Tarator is lighter, cleaner, more tart than cacik and is served in big bowls as a first course.  Some will serve it as a starter to Easter dinner; most consume it, and often, during the hot summer.  Maestro Kurt Mazur uses the following representative recipe for his favorite soup:

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 cups excellent quality plain yogurt
  • ½  teaspoon salt (or more–taste to season)
  • 2 Tablespoons dill, chopped

Garnish:  ground walnuts (these are traditional although the maestro prefers toasted almond slices)

In a blender, puree the cucumber and garlic, then liquefy.  Toss in the water, yogurt, salt, and dill, and mix well.  Refrigerate til ice cold.  When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with freshly ground walnut.

April 15, 2014

Back in Bulgaria

Filed under: History and culture,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 8:22 pm

boyana supa topcheta

Back in 2010, my son Bill moved his family to Sofia, Bulgaria, his first assignment as a foreign service officer.  I was over the moon–a 3-hour direct flight from Paris to my 4 grandchildren.  And there they all were, on the slopes of Mount Vitosha, just minutes in one direction to ski, in another direction to the fabulous 13th century Boyana Church, in another to a charming local restaurant for Bulgarian home cooking.

Who ever heard of Bulgarian cuisine?  I hadn’t and was eager to see what a complex ancient history, 500 years of Ottoman rule, and 50 years of Soviet-led communism had done to the food.

Famous worldwide for its yogurt (kiselo miyako) and its brined white cheese (sirenye), Bulgarian dishes are curiously heavy with new world foods–tomatoes, chili peppers (and paprika, the powdered version), beans, and potatoes–reputedly because, unlike suspicious Europeans, the Turks practically grabbed them out of Colombus’ hands and lavished them throughout their their empire.

The result?  Excellent and distinctive food…and, of course, soups.  In the weeks ahead, as I try to figure out how to revamp, I like to share some recipes that I’ll be adding to the new site.  First up:  Supa Topcheta (Meatball Soup), a traditional family favorite and staple of school cafeterias.  Adapted from “Mother Linda” Forristal’s Bulgarian Rhapsody.


Creamy, tangy, woodsy from the parsley, and with tender meatballs and the bite of carrots–this is soup for the hungry.  One of the most filling soups I’ve encountered.  Many recipes add tomatoes (in brackets), and you can convert it from a meal to a substantial course by omitting or halving the pasta.

  • 4 scallions, chopped far down into the green
  • 1 medium carrot, diced small
  • [optional 3 peeled tomatoes, diced small]
  • 4 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 5 cups water
  •  2/3 pound ground meat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 4 Tablespoons raw rice
  • 1 egg white (reserve yolk for final assembly)
  • flour for coating meatballs
  • [2 or 1 or no nests of angel hair pasta]
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg (plus the reserved egg yolk)
  • 1 cup flat parsley, chopped
  • lemon juice and black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stir in the scallions, carrots, and salt, then the 2 Tablespoons water.  Cook until the carrots are soft, about 3 minutes.  [If you use tomatoes, you do not need to add the water.]   Stir in the paprika and let it release its flavor into the fat.  Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil

Make the meatballs by mixing well the meat, salt, paprika, rice, and egg white. Pinch off small pieces, roll into balls, and coat with flour, lining the meatballs up on a plate.  When the water is boiling, add the meatballs, one by one; bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook for 20 minutes.  [If you using the pasta, add 5 minutes before the meatballs are done.]

At this point, you can turn off the heat, cover, and leave for final assembly later.

When ready to serve, beat the yogurt in a bowl and whisk in the eggs.    Reheat the soup, if it has cooled, and stir a quarter cup of the hot liquid into the yogurt–then a half cup–then stir the yogurt mixture back into the soup.  This “zastroika” method keeps the eggs from getting stringy and makes a lovely consistency.  Keep the soup on low.  Stir in the black pepper, salt to taste, and the chopped parsley.  You may stir in the lemon juice at the end or serve a wedge of lemon with each serving.  Garnish each bowl with chopped scallions.

April 6, 2014

What the World Needs Now Is Soup, Sweet Soup

Filed under: History and culture,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 7:38 pm

Martha_Washington crab3

Almost 5 years since my last post on Halloween 2009. Five years!  A lot of soup under the bridge…many European, African, and Latin American adventures under my belt…relocating from Paris back to Washington, DC…and just now retiring from the day job (!) to what I hope will be a new era for soupsong. The plan?  Nothing less than ditching the old format of and a lot of its content to create Soupedia, a compendium of traditional soup recipes from all time periods and cultures that I hope will largely flow into the site from soup lovers around the world.  And fast, before the globalization of food and custom make us forget these storied traditions. It’s going to be a long haul, folks, as I figure out 21st century tools and laboriously reprogram the content.  But along the way I hope to tease and tempt you on this blog with stories and recipes I have collected during my long absence.  And what better way to start, now that I’m back in the poisonous politics of Washington, DC,  than with an 18th century American crab soup from the hand of our first First Lady Martha Washington? Appropriately, I adapted a recipe found in Washington insider Cokie Roberts’ Founding Mothers:  The Women Who Raised Our Nation, credited to Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks’ 1968 book of presidential recipes.  It is light and lemony but rich – and heady with a whiff of sherry to stimulate the appetite.  Need I say it?  PERFECT for these cool spring days.  Don’t you wish you had a cup right this minute? MARTHA WASHINGTON’S CRAB SOUP (6 servings)

  • 3 eggs, hardboiled
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 cup crabmeat (ideally lump Chesapeake crab, but all crab is good in this)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • Garnish: strips of lemon rind and parsley

Mash the hardboiled eggs and grated lemon rind together and reserve.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat, whisk in the flour and blend for a minute or two.  Slowly whisk in the milk, turning up the heat to medium, and bring to a boil.  Whisk in the egg/rind and cook gently for 5 minute to thicken.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste.  Right before serving, stir in the heavy cream and crabmeat and bring just to a boil.  Remove from heat, add the sherry, and serve immediately.  Garnish each bowl with a curl of lemon rind and a parsley leaf.

October 31, 2009

Nobody spooks like the English

Filed under: History and culture,Soup,soup recipes — pat @ 5:28 pm
British Museum sphinx considers Halloween activities

British Museum sphinx considering Halloween activities

Prepackaged scariness

Prepackaged scariness

No one is a bigger fan of Halloween than me. The creepiness of its very concept…the intoxification of fear…the cloying sweetness of the treats and the nastiness of the tricks. Who could doubt that it’s an English holiday?

Even so, I was pretty surprised to find the pictured soup in all the London Tesco supermarkets last weekend. “Witches Brew” indeed–rather a pumpkin and tomato puree with bits of blackeyed peas and veggies floating in it.

Want a soup that’s a little more frightening? Try Spooky Soup and a Story from my old website. Or perhaps you prefer Teeny Tiny Graveyard Soup. Nothing like Halloween soup to put a chill on your bones.

Wishing you goblins of fun, wherever you are.

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