Trahana Soup

As regular readers may recall, I recently returned to Cyprus (where I spent many a happy childhood summer) after a long absence. One of the foods my family enjoyed in Cyprus all those years ago was Trahana soup. Trahana is a cake of dried yogurt, cracked wheat and lemon juice that is made into a soup using water or chicken broth. What you add next is open to interpretation – sometimes tomatoes, sometimes chicken meat, often Halloumi cheese. When I finally got my hands on some Trahana I put everything in there and it was goooood. Salty and sour, with the comforting goodness of chicken and the squeaky little Halloumi surprises every now and then. Nice.

Now I did go all the way to Cyprus to get mine but that’s not strictly necessary. If you live in the greater London area then you can find Trahana in Cypriot shops in Green Lanes, North London. Just be sure it’s a Greek Cypriot shop you’re in, otherwise you’ll end up with Tarhana, the Turkish version, which is actually quite different. Elsewhere in the world you’ll have to fend for yourself – perhaps the internet might offer some some mail-order Trahana? If you’d like to have a go at making your own, I did find a recipe online. Personally, I’m planning to go back to Cyprus for more when I need it!

My Trahana soup came out a bit on the thick side, since I used more Trahana than I listed in the recipe below. It was good but next time I’ll cut back and let it be a bit thinner. It’s also, as you can see, not very photogenic. Or perhaps I just couldn’t figure out a good way to show it off. It’s something you just have to taste to understand why I really would fly all the way to Cyprus for it.

Ingredients:

1 cup dried Trahana
1 large tomato, diced
1.5 cups cooked, shredded or diced chicken
4 cups chicken stock
Salt to taste
1 cup diced Halloumi cheese
Pinch of dried mint

Method:

1.    Cover Trahana with warm water and leave to soak for 2 hours or until it doubles in volume to 2 cups.
2.    Bring stock to boil and add chicken and tomato.
3.    Drain Trahana and add to stock, let boil on low heat for ½ hour.
4.    Add salt to taste.
5.    A few minutes before serving, add the Halloumi and dried mint
6.    Serve with extra Halloumi on the side, if desired.

Saha!