My mother-in-law, Anne, is a pure example of Turkish hospitality and her yogurt soup recipe is proof.
Every day she relentlessly prepares homemade meals for her family. It's a rare occasion when she doesn't cook. That's never stopped her, though, from stewing over leftovers and piecing together random ingredients for a whole new nourishing meal.
I lived with my husband and his parents for nearly two years in Turkey, where we were spoiled with his mother's cooking.
We reminisce about the days when we hovered over thousand-piece puzzles and were suddenly overwhelmed by plates of fruits and nuts, hot tea, and cheeses after dinner. In the winter, we looked forward to homemade mantι (a Turkish ravioli), musakka, and many simple, yet delicious soups.
One of the first soups I learned from Anne (pronounced "ah-neh", meaning mother), was yogurt soup.
The main ingredient for Anne's Turkish Yogurt Soup is yogurt. And, as one of the staple foods in Turkey, women make homemade yogurt every week or so as toppings for pastas or dipping sauces for köfte, to blend into ayran, or to enjoy as a side dish to any meal.
Yogurt to Turkey is like ketchup to America. This explains why my husband loves ranch dressing so much.
Well, for this recipe, Anne will actually buy a strained yogurt from the market. Homemade yogurt is quite light and airy, and so when shopping for this recipe, look for "Greek style" or "strained" yogurt. You want to make sure it's thick and dense.
This recipe is one you'll want to memorize and have on hand throughout the winter months. We're even know to make a pot of yogurt soup during the summer, it's that good!
Anne's Turkish Yogurt Soup · NOURISHES 4 to 6
for the soup
5 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons jasmine rice
500 grams strained yogurt (I like Siggi's 4% or Fage 5%)
1 pasture-raised egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
salt (I use finely ground grey Celtic Sea Salt)
for the topping
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
ground cumin (optional)
for the garnish
dried spearmint leaves
freshly cracked black pepper
1. Add 4 cups of the water & white rice to a medium-sized sauce pan. Turn the fire on high, uncovered, and set a timer for 15 minutes. Whisk occasionally to keep the rice from sticking.
2. In a tall vessel, combine the yogurt, remaining 1 cup of water*, the egg and the flour using an immersion blender or whisk. The consistency should be completely smooth and "thick like boza" (which is a traditional fermented Turkish beverage served in the winter). If you've never had boza, strive for the consistency of eggnog!
3. Add a couple pinches of salt to the rice water and stir.
4. When the timer goes off, slowly stream the yogurt mixture into the boiling rice water, whisking constantly until all of the yogurt mixture has been added. Continue whisking until the soup returns to a boil (lift the whisk out of the pot every minute or so to catch sight of the bubbles).
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan (or butter warmer) over medium low heat. Add the tomato paste and roast gently until the mixture darkens slightly and the aroma of the paste evolves from bland to OH MAN! Add a bit of salt, a pinch of cumin (if using) and roast for about 30 seconds. Stream in a tablespoon of water at a time and mix until the sauce thickens, but a layer of oil remains around the edges.
7. When the soup is ready, taste and add salt if needed. Add hot water to the soup to loosen it up to your preferred consistency (but not too thin!)**.
Ladle Anne's Turkish Yogurt Soup into bowls, top with a swirl of the sauce (be sure to get some of that floating oil on the spoon as it adds a beautiful presentation), and garnish with the mint and black pepper. Serve immediately & sip sun.
* To help the yogurt mixture acclimate more quickly to the boiling rice water, add hot water from the kettle.
** The soup will thicken as it cools. It's common to thin each bowl of soup rather than thinning the whole pot of it. This is usually the case when scooping leftovers from the fridge as well. Just remember, you want to drink the soup, not eat it.