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Yia Yia Zmaragda's Rustic Pasta Soup with Beef or Veal Tongue

    In Greek, yia yia means "grandma", so this is "Granny" Zmaragda's soup, the mother-in-law of a Greek-Canadian woman I met via the Internet, then met in person when I visited Toronto.

    Granny's delicious recipe comes from the Greek mainland region of Thessaly where it's customary to add an entire lamb's head to soup. I've substituted chunks from a freshly boiled beef or veal tongue along with plenty of flavorful broth. And I have thickened the soup with  xinochondros, a handmade "rustic pasta" from the island of Crete (See page 72 in Mediterranean Grains & Greens ). (Please don't use commercial trahana. This soup has great subtlety, which will be spoiled by such an unsubtle addition). See Note below for an alternative to homemade "rustic pasta."

    Since the recipe calls for only a small amount of tongue, I suggest making this soup when you will be serving the delicious  Beef or Veal Tongue Stewed Slowly With Tomatoes, Sage and Garlic the following day.     

Serves 4
4 Ounces homemade rustic pasta (see note)
1-2 Cups finely diced boiled beef or veal tongue
  Salt and pepper
5 Cups tongue or beef broth, degreased
4 Teaspoons butter
1 Tablespoon minced parsley

1. Soak the rustic pasta in hot water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, season the tongue with salt and pepper and set aside. You should have about 2-1/2 cups.

2. Heat the broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Drain the pasta and discard the soaking liquid. Drop into the hot broth and whisk until boiling. Lower the heat and cook at the simmer until the broth thickens and the pasta is soft. Add the diced tongue to reheat; adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and simmer 5 minutes longer. Garnish each serving with a pat of butter and a pinch of minced parsley.

     Note to the Cook: Here is a suggestion from email "pen pal" June Samaras: "Without the pasta you could substitute 1-1/2 cups finely diced potatoes and 4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese. The briny cheese provides a nice alternative, but it really doesn't fit into a grains and greens book! Cook the potatoes in the broth until almost tender. Add the tongue and the feta, and continue cooking, stirring often,  until the soup is creamy, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Garnish each serving with a small pat of butter and a pinch of chopped parsley."

     With thanks to Kyrie Zmaragda and June Samaras for sharing the late Spiros Zmaragda's favorite recipe.

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