Bulgarian Cucumber Soup With Walnuts
Before the weather becomes too chilly for cold soups, try this one. Bulgaria once was well known for the number of centenarians in its population, which some scientists attributed to the daily consumption of Bulgarian yogurt. Now, both the yogurt and eating culture in this mountainous country have changed for the worse, and so have local lifespans.
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), peeled, green shoots removed
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups thick plain yogurt (Greek style, or drained)
- 2 tablespoons walnut or olive oil, or 1 tablespoon each
- 2/3 cup (2 ounces) shelled walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 European cucumber, about 10 inches long, or 3 Persian cucumbers, cut in very small dice
- 1/2 cup ice-cold water, preferably spring water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Freshly ground pepper
For the garnish:
- Ice cubes (optional)
- Finely chopped walnuts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Finely chopped fresh dill or mint
1. Place the garlic in a mortar with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mash to a paste.
2. Place the yogurt in a large bowl. Stir in the oil, garlic and walnuts. Whisk in the water and the lemon juice. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Chill for one hour or longer.
3. Meanwhile, season the cucumbers lightly with salt, and allow to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Add to the yogurt mixture and stir together.
4. If you wish, place an ice cube in each bowl, and ladle in the soup. Top with chopped walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil if desired, and a sprinkling of dill or mint.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: You can make this several hours before serving it. Keep the soup base and the cucumbers separately refrigerated. The longer the soup sits, the more pungent it will become.