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Soup can be such a misunderstood food. People often see it as either something out of a can that's not so good for you (sorry, Campbell's!), or as something healthy but that takes a lot of time to make. That desire for a quick, hot, filling soup is what prompted me to make traditional Greek trahaná the hero of this combo. Trahaná is a yogurt-flavored pasta that cooks up so quickly that you can have a hearty soup in minutes, which is great for these busy days when we're all working and studying from home.
Greek women used to make trahaná in the fall to have plenty of pasta ready for the winter. They always used fresh yogurt and soft wheat flour (not the durum wheat that typical pasta is made with) for the sour version of trahaná. There's also a sweet version, without the yogurt. When our parents and grandparents were growing up, it was a typical breakfast food, kind of like oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, thick and warm, definitely helping them get through long walks to school on those cold and damp Greek winter mornings.
Agrozimi draws on those traditions for their own trahaná, even still making it by hand! They lay out the yogurt-wheat dough, dry it naturally (no fast-drying ovens for the Martavaltzoglou brothers), and then pass it through a sieve by hand, giving it a distinctive texture and flavor. Contemporary Greek chefs have started using this pasta like starchy Italian carnaroli rice and make a trahanoto with it. It's much faster than risotto and you can find the delicious trahanoto recipe on my blog, which makes for a classy dinner at home.
But trahaná is first and foremost a soup, and a nice brothy one at that. I started adding a spoonful of Elli & Manos' Flaming Red Pepper Greek Flavor Burst when I discovered these tasty concentrated sauces. The spicy, yet still natural-tasting flavor gives an extra kick, which I love and I shared my Spicy Trahana recipe last winter. Elli & Manos' Greek Flavor Bursts are a wonderfully versatile staple for any kitchen. I also like mixing this particular sauce with crumbled feta cheese to make my own version of tyrokafterí, a classic Greek mezé appetizer. Try this as a sharper and healthier alternative to ranch dressing or cream cheese-based dips, especially with veggie sticks or pita chips (you can find more easy appetizer recipes and ideas for healthy snacks in our blog, in case you're running out of ideas these days!).
I've made a fast chicken dinner with this Flaming Red Pepper sauce. Just brush some on chicken breasts and grill on a barbecue or in your oven for another quick and easy meal. Add a green salad and crusty bread (because it's a shame to let that sauce sit on the plate!) and you have a healthy, yet still flavorful hot dinner or lunch.
I've also included in the Soup Night trio a fragrant, sweetly-spicy concentrated cooking blend from Sparoza. It's the perfect complement to lentil soup, another classic Greek winter dish I've shared in my blog. Just a tablespoon or so in the pot and you'll see that lentils take on a whole new dimension. Add some to carrot & sweet-potato soup, too, or to any tomato-based dish for a warm, rich flavor. Sparoza's cooking blends are another of those cook's helpers and a real life-saver in the kitchen.
This particular cooking blend is also an amazing enhancer for sweet dishes, too. I recently shared my Easy Banana Bread recipe, which was one of our go-to treats for afternoon tea. There's nothing like a slice of this bread and a cup of Sparoza's Shaman tea for a spicy way to get rid of the Zoom blues...and your kitchen smells like paradise!
As you can see, our Soup Night Meal Kit will give you plenty of quick and easy meal ideas that can take you from breakfast to lunch to snack to dinner...it's far more than just for soup! I hope you enjoy playing with it beyond the spicy trahaná recipe that first inspired it.
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