Thursday, 22 September 2011

All Greek to Me!

Spezzatino di Kritharaki (Risoni) con Pomodorini, Zucchine e Gamberetti
Kritharaki (Risoni) Soup with Tomato, Zucchini and Shrimps

Rich, smooth, spicy and delicious, are just 4 words I could use to describe this evenings dish... but I can think of a whole lot more! Quick and easy to make, this is the perfect dish for the cool Autumn evenings, when you just want to get home, get warm and dig in to a satisfying and warming bowl of soup.

I used those little Greek noodles, "Kritharaki" or "Risoni" as they are also known- and it was a first for me. Shaped like somewhat larger, flatter, rice corns, they are ideal for making soups or salads. They have a nice bite and a silky texture- perfect  for a nice, unctuous dish like this one.

I started out with finely diced bacon, celery, carrot and onion, which I sauteed together in a deep frying pan. I wanted to prepare this soup in a similar manner to a risotto or paella and the larger surface area seemed like a good idea to me, as it would allow the rice to be exposed to a larger area of heat and thus to cook more quickly. And of course I was right.

Once the onion becomes translucent, add the noodles and some sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped garlic, tomato paste and oregano and stir well together. One handful of noodles per person should be enough for a decent serving. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a little Herbs du Provence and set to simmer at a moderate heat, stirring occasionally.

As the noodles cook and grow in size, they will also thicken and bind the soup nicely. Don't forget to add a pinch of sugar or a drizzle of honey, being as you are using fresh tomatoes, otherwise the soup will have a slightly sour flavor.

Add the shrimp about 5-6 minutes before you are ready to serve- I find that they stay juicier tasting if they are cooked directly in the soup and not fried sepearately. And we are almost ready to rumble! The finishing touch was a few leaves of fresh oregano and a sprinkle of ground chili flakes and maybe a light drizzle of olive oil. And a great Autumn dish was finished and ready to be enjoyed... and I certainly hope that you do!


  1. Another delightful dish, Francesco!

    Risoni (called orzo here in the States for some reason) are very popular here. Besides soups, I love to make them for a midnight snack with a little butter and grated parmesan cheese. One of my little guilty pleasures...

  2. Again- glad you like Frank! This was a first for me- but I will be experimenting with this stuff for sure- it's a very convenient product! Why things in the States get given strange names is all "Greek" to me- haha! Best wishes from Frankfurt! Francesco