Amazing soup. I mean, there’s beer in it. How can it not be amazing? Thick and creamy (yes, there is cream in there too), cheesy (due to the lovely, slightly sweet kasseri cheese), aromatic (that’s the beer), and just salty enough thanks to some traditional cured pork.
The recipe for this soup is my contribution to a campaign by the Athenian Brewery, a large company that manufactures, well, beer. The campaign “12 Beers from Greece” aims to communicate the fact that 12 of their beers are now made entirely in Greece. By entirely I mean even the cultivation of the barley. In 2014 over 3,000 local producers provided nearly 90,000 tonnes of high quality barley, grown on over 58,000 acres of Greek land. Pretty good figures. So I decided that my recipe should also contain mainly local products. And I was certainly impressed with the result of their combination.
To start off with, our base is the potato. Since it’s a potato soup. Makes sense. I love potato soup, especially my mum’s leek and potato. But I digress. So yes, we start with potato and then add some pretty special ingredients. Like butter and Greek yogurt, cream, beer, kasseri cheese, and even some carob honey. Are you impressed yet? Apart from being really tasty, this soup is very easy to make too. Now I realize you might find it hard to get some of the products, like the traditional Greek butter made of half cow half sheep’s milk, or the slightly sweet kasseri, but it’s worth seeking them out if you can. Otherwise use regular butter and choose a yellow cheese that is fairly mild and sweet. The traditional cured pork is a little bit like smoked ham hock although the way I made it it’s just added as a garnish. If you cook the hock in the soup I think the result will be quite different, so I can’t suggest it. If you have a Greek deli nearby ask for cured (pasto) pork from Mani (which is what I used) or Crete.
As for the beer, I chose Amstel Premium Pilsener. As I mentioned it is made here in Greece, so feel free to use whichever beer you prefer if you can’t get hold of that. Just make sure it’s not too bitter!