Soup is the equivalent of a warm blanket for the stomach, the elixir that makes your body feel instantly warmer in the winter. Here at Cerines, it’s no wonder that soup is a part of our weekly menu. Cyprus’ winters are pretty mild, but when it rains it pours and when it does get cold, it gets really cold… for a little bit, anyway. Unlike in other parts of the world where readers settle in for a long winter with snowy and inclement weather, ours is less of a nuisance and more of a respite from the sunny weather. Yeah, yeah… cry me a river, right? Actually, only in the winter months–with some help from mother nature–do some of the river beds actually start running. It’s that dry: with over 300 days of sunshine and a sun so warm there are vernal days we’re covered in just one layer, winter here in the Eastern Mediterranean is a short season that allows the earth to rejuvenate itself from the harsh sun and dry conditions.
And so we retreat indoors and light up the fireplace. What better meal is there to warm up the kitchen than a pot simmering on the stove? What better meal is there to scent your home with frying onions or garlic that makes up a soup base? And diving into a bowl with a proper soup spoon? Is there a better way to warm the bones?
Here at Cerines, soup is not limited to a snack nor does it play second fiddle to a sandwich. It is so versatile, it can play whatever role you want it to. Think of soup as that all-around actor who can successfully play the lead or can end up stealing the show with a bit part. When Ioanna and I were in graduate school, we used to treat ourselves to lunch at Neiman-Marcus. This was a glamorous place to eat when our lives were simple and we were on a strict budget. At Christmas, one wall was festooned with an over-sized wreath of magnolia leaves. Such luxurious adornments could be enjoyed by all shoppers. Of course, we couldn’t afford any of the high-end merchandise they sold, but we could treat ourselves to a lunch from time to time. And the one thing that always stood out to me was the practice of serving each guest a small cup of buillon–a clear broth that was often beef-based–as the menu was perused. Just a small touch, yet it really made you feel at home and most welcome.
For us, soup maintains this hospitable posture–whether it is served during a stand-up cocktail party, as one of the courses for a special meal in the dining room or as the main dish at a sit-down supper club. One of the signature things that we do when we entertain large groups is to serve small little cups of soups as soon as guests walk in the door. The comfort factor in soup is ever-present so when a guest is handed a small cup to enjoy, it eases those first minutes when the environment may be new or when the guest needs something soothing. At one of our recent supper clubs, we made a last-minute addition to the menu because the produce found at the market was so perfect, it had to be made. Roasted Tomato Soup was made in the morning. It just so happened that the weather turned rainy and nasty a few hours before guests were due to arrive; so bad we thought that some guests might be discouraged by the sudden winter weather and cancel. To the contrary, everyone made it. As it were, each guest coming in from the violent rain was given a cup, a wooden teaspoon and a grissini added in for a special flourish. The smiles on their faces were noticeable, the positive comments coming freely. We made extra, as we always do, but the guests who arrived late found very little or none at all… simply because most guests asked for seconds.
For this new feature category debuting in January 2015, we want to share with you our classic recipes for soup that we have enjoyed here at Cerines. Some are old and some are new but all of them are tried and tested, so you can be sure when you make them, they’ll come out as good as if they were made here. Some have a creamy texture, some are chunky, some have a base of potatoes, rice or pasta. Most you can eat with a spoon, and for some you can use a fork! Whatever the case, these are all recipes that we love, we feed our boys, serve to our friends. There won’t be a winter that goes by that we won’t enjoy these soups at least once or twice. (And some are so good, we enjoy them year-round!).
Roasted Tomato Soup (click here for the recipe)
Chicken + Lemon Soup (click here for the recipe)
Minestra alla Papafiro with Crostini al parmigiano (click here for the recipes)
Creamy Vegetable Soup
Orzo al brodo
Cream of Pumpkin Soup
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