Yayla Çorbası is a savory yogurt and rice soup that is eaten throughout Turkey. It is very easy to prepare and the dried mint imparts a unique taste.
Soups are very popular in Turkey and come in many different varieties. This yogurt based soup, Yayla Çorbasi, which translates as "Meadow Soup", has its origins in the mountains in Turkey. It was mainly "drunk" (as you would say in Turkish) by the shepherds and their families. It is now regularly enjoyed throughout Turkey, both in small villages and large cities and is consumed for breakfast or as a complete meal. Although it is a winter favorite, it is offered throughout the year in homes and restaurants and is also a very popular street food. Like chicken soup in other cultures, Turkish folk beliefs contend that it has curative powers. Although it is often referred to as a soup because of the rice, it is more akin to a porridge.
The type of rice used in Yayla Çorbasi varies from recipe to recipe, with some calling for long-grain Basmati rice and others suggesting shorter grain rice. Whole grain rice will impart a slight nutty taste to the soup. Most recipes use rice, but barley, chickpeas or bulgur can also be used. When boiled, yogurt will separate and curdle and the soup will become thin. Therefore, you should add the yoghurt at the very end, heating it, but not to the point of a boil. The recipe below uses flour and egg which prevent the yogurt from curdling. Some versions use paprika while others use chili flakes for an extra kick. Turkish yogurt and dried mint can be purchased at the Balboa International Market.
- 5 cups water, or vegetable or chicken/beef stock
- 1 cup rice
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup dried mint
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 1/3 teaspoon chili flakes
- Bring the water or stock to boil in saucepan.
- Add rice, turn down to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
- Combine the yogurt, flour, egg yolk in a bowl and beat until smooth (the flour and egg yolks stabilize the yogurt and keep it from curdling).
- In a separate pan, saute the dried mint and paprika in the olive oil.
- Gently sauté the dried mint and paprika for a minute or so, but don't let the butter burn!
- Adding a quarter of a cup at a time, mix the remaining hot stock to the yoghurt.
- Mix the mixture into the rice and heat for another 5 minutes (avoid boiling!).
- Serve in bowls. Sprinkle top with chili flakes
Photo and recipe by T. Johnston-0'Neill
Recipe suggested by Henriette Ruhrmann
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