Well, this soup is the first big surprise of the year. Admittedly I hate saffron. I hate its taste and its smell. Where I grew up (in the north of Greece, in Kozani) we used to help some family with gathering and “cleaning” saffron flowers (separate the yellow and red stigmas, throwing away the purple leftovers), because they, as struggling farmers, had some piece of land full of them and they couldn’t make it on their own. So, I remember those dreadful times when we were actually forced, to help and we hated it, since as restless children we just wanted to play around the fields instead of bending to the ground to reach those very small purple flowers. Hard work it was. But the harder was always the cleaning. Our hands would become yellow from the red stigmas and the smell… oh I hated that smell.
Many years past, I grew up (I think) and started cooking. I came across randomly this recipe and my first thoughts were “no way”. But having this blog and cooking and reading all the time about new and fresh recipes, I have discovered this need to always try something new and especially something I normally wouldn’t even touch. Most of the times this risk turns out fantastic with amazing and surprisingly good, for my taste, recipes. So I tried this recipe with a lot of skepticism and was astonished with the result! So tasty and so unique. I made it twice in one week. We just loved it. And my hate for saffron has definitely diminished. I appreciate it more now and I understand how precious it is. Maybe I will start using it more. Grandma, you were right!
Prep. Time: 50 minutes, Serves up to 4 people
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil + some extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of bukovo spice* (alternatively dried chili)
5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups (750 ml) or a bit more of cold water
1 pinch dried saffron
½ cup (125 ml) of milk or extra water, according to your needs
Salt and fresh ground pepper
*Bukovo spice is used widely in the kitchen of northern Greece and it is mildly less spicy than chili. You can find very good price here.
In a medium soup pan fry the onion in the olive oil over low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to get soft and translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until it softens and gets fragrant – not browned.
Add the bukovo spice along with the potatoes and add cold water, approximately 3 cups, till the potatoes are covered. If needed add some more. Add a pinch of salt and boil over medium heat. Simmer the potatoes for about 30 minutes or until they are very soft.
Remove the soup from the heat, put the pinch of saffron in an organic tea filter (I use Mount Everest Tea ones), and let it infuse for about 5 minutes. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth, adding more milk or extra water according to the consistency of your choice. Season to taste with more salt if needed. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Don’t forget to Enjoy!