Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cold Soup from the Balkans

This soup and hundreds more can be found in my book THE BEST SOUPS IN THE WORLD. This cold summertime soup is a favorite in Bulgaria and Macedonia. It's called tarator. In fact, a thicker version is used as a meze dip in Greece and Turkey and called tzatziki and cacık respectively. In Arab countries of the Middle East, though, taratur is a sauce made with tahini and lemon juice. The blend of yogurt, walnuts, cucumber, and garlic seems so natural and the dish is made all the more appealing by stirring in a good quality olive oil. I once made tarator on a hot July 4th followed by some yogurt-and-mint-marinated grilled lamb and it was as perfect a meal as could be. For a slightly lighter taste you can use vegetable or sunflower seed oil.
1 pound (2 cups) plain whole yogurt
3 cucumbers, peeled and finely grated
8 large garlic cloves, pounded in a mortar with 1 teaspoon salt until mushy
2 1/2 ounces (about 3/4 cup) shelled walnuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Water if necessary
1 bunch dill, stems removed, chopped
In a bowl, beat the yogurt until smooth. Add the cucumbers, garlic mixture, and walnuts and mix well. Add the oil and beat until well blended. If your yogurt was quite thick, add some water to thin it and make it soupy. Let rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving. Stir the dill in at the last moment and serve.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

[photo credit: Borovets Vacations, 2005]

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