This Cold Yogurt Soup is Instant Air Conditioning
Chock full of rice, chickpeas, and herbs to fill you up without weighing you down
With swampy weather just around the corner for much of the U.S., it’s time to turn to foods built to cool us down. Part of that involves food that requires no heating up in the first place: no-cook dinners, salads, and ceviche. And then there’s dishes like this one, a cold soup that you do have to heat up first, but then get deep chilled to something that, as you slurp, cools you down like instant air conditioning.
It’s a Ukrainian dish shared with us by the London-based chef Olia Hercules, who considers soup to be her home country’s national soul food. “My mum says she couldn’t live without having some kind of rich broth daily,” she says, and once you taste this delicate yogurt soup, it’s easy to see why.
Cooking with yogurt is tricky business—push the heat to high and the yogurt will break, leaving grainy nubs of coagulated protein in what should be a creamy broth. Slow, gentle heat is the first safeguard for this dish, but so is the egg that gets whisked in with the yogurt and water base. The egg helps emulsify the soup as it heats up, as does the starch that leaches out of the raw rice you cook in it. If you take your time you’re rewarded with a bright, creamy, undeniably yogurty soup with delightfully chewy bits of rice and chickpeas. To finish it off, blitz it with herbs—sorrel if you can find it, mint, and cilantro. Or whatever’s in your garden; we wouldn’t say no to tarragon or perilla.