This is the soup of my childhood. Every time I was sick with a cold or flu this would be the soup my mum would make for me. Simply eating this soup would actually make me feel less sick; it was home in a bowl. It would make me feel loved and cared for, nurtured, supported and safe. It is the lemon warmth of this soup with that beautiful egg-lemon froth on top that you feel in your tummy with each spoonful.
Food has always been connected with home for me. It is how I found the words to connect to my late father Leo and, to this day, my mum Sia, when I had no other language to do so. Food is how we have shared and shown love as a family.
Learning to cook as a child was how I resisted traditional expectations of what it meant to be a boy, and it allowed me to connect to my nurturing side. As an adult, I was able to create new friendships and my own community of welcome by cooking and sharing a meal.
My love of Greek cooking and food is central to my identity. It is how I help preserve my heritage, my culture and story. Our food cultures help break down fear and prejudice, and share a common language we can all speak. A meal shared brings our collective humanity to the table, and invites a seat for everyone.
I have written a Greek cookbook with my mum to document all the recipes I was raised with, to be able to pass them on to the next generation. It is a celebration of community and the importance of welcoming refugees. I am donating all my profits back to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to support food security to families seeking asylum.
For 22 years, each weekday the ASRC has provided a shared meal to welcome refugees. We have families from as many as 60 nations sharing a meal together – smiling, connecting and supporting each other. Food is our universal language and connective social tissue regardless of where people have fled from to seek sanctuary here. Our Foodbank provides food security to hundreds of families each week – it is food that is culturally inclusive and respectful and empowers people to create meals for their families. Food helps refugees to connect to their home country, to create a place of safety and hope, and a new place to call home.
200g (1 cup) medium-grain rice, rinsed and dried
2 vegan stock cubes (chicken flavoured)
2 litres cold water, plus 1 teaspoon extra
1 teaspoon salt
3 small eggs, separated
Salt and pepper, to season
Juice of 2–3 lemons (or more to taste)
Wash the rice in a colander for a minute and let it dry. Combine rice, stock cubes and butter in a large pot and cover with the water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Add salt and cook for 15 minutes until the soup is creamy but not thick or watery (you still want a soupy consistency, so don’t reduce it too much). If your soup thickens too much, add a little extra water. Remove from heat.
Essential to making this soup so delicious is a thick egg-lemon froth that is poured on top of the finished soup. We make this by combining egg whites with 1 teaspoon of water in a large bowl and, using a small hand mixer, beat until the mixture becomes stiff like you are making a meringue. Slowly add in the yolks, continuing to mix, until combined. Gradually pour in the lemon juice and continue mixing for another minute.
Take 3 ladles of the soup mixture and add it to this bowl and mix for another minute. Then pour this mixture evenly over the top of our pot of soup.
Plate and serve with salt and a generous amount of cracked pepper all over. If you want an even more lemony soup, you can squeeze more lemon onto your soup to finish.
ASRC CEO AND FOUNDER KON KARAPANAGIOTIDIS’ VEGETARIAN GREEK COOKBOOK a seat at my table: phILOXENIA IS OUT 4 OCTOBER, AND IS NOW AVAILBLE TO PRE-ORDER. ALL PROFITS GO TO THE ASRC.
Published in ed#689