Soups, -“Corba” in Turkish-, form a very important part of Turkish diet; almost every dinner, especially in cooler months, start with soup in Turkish households. In rural Anatolia, it is very common for this yoghurt soup or the hearty red lentil soup to be eaten as breakfast, for a substantial meal, throughout the year. You see soup stalls in every town, village and city in Turkey.
This simple but delicious yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi, originates back to Anatolia’s earliest settlers and nomadic herdsman, and it is one of the most popular soups in Turkey, flavored with dried mint and paprika flakes. Traditionally long grain white rice and butter is used in the recipe, here in this version, I used whole grain basmati rice and used olive oil and butter half and half during our class recently. For gluten-free version, please use gluten and wheat free plain white flour blend.
Yayla Corbasi is another good example of how you can add flavor through spices. The mild, plain taste of yoghurt is magically transformed with the red pepper flakes and dried mint infused butter/olive oil, to a different, delicious and refreshing level. I hope you can give it a go sometime.
Fancy more soup? How about Ezo Gelin Corbasi – Daughter-in-law’s spicy lentils and bulgur soup with quinoa or this Tomato and vegetables soup with orzo – Sebzeli seriye corbasi ? They are ready in a short time and can certainly warm you up.
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes
1.2 litres/2pints/5 cups water (you can also use vegetable stock or for non-vegetarian version, meat/chicken stock if you’d like)
150gr/6oz/1 cup whole grain basmati rice, rinsed
30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
500gr/1 ¼ lb./2 ¼ cups plain, thick and creamy yoghurt (brand Fage works well)
15ml/1 tbsp. plain flour (for gluten-free version, please use gluten and wheat free plain white flour blend)
2 egg yolk
15 ml/1 tbsp. dried mint
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
For the dried mint & paprika flakes sauce:
30ml/2 tbsp unsalted butter (you can use olive oil instead of butter, if you prefer)
½ tbsp paprika flakes – you can use more for a spicier flavor!-
½ tbsp dried mint
Bring the water to the boil in a heavy saucepan and add the rice. Stir well and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the rice is tender and has released its starch to thicken the soup. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile in a bowl, combine the yoghurt, flour, egg yolk and beat until smooth (the flour and egg yolks stabilize the yoghurt and keep it from curdling). From the pan, take a cupful of hot stock and whisk it into the mixture. Return the thickened egg mixture to the soup pan, stir in the dried mint and season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir well and simmer gently for another 10 minutes, or until the soup has a creamy consistency.
To make the dried mint and paprika flakes sauce, melt the butter gently in a separate pan on a low heat. Stir in the dried mint and paprika flakes, stir and cook on a very low heat (so that the spices don’t burn) for about 30 seconds, until the spices start to sizzle. Whisk this sauce into the soup.
Serve hot with a sprinkle of extra paprika flakes for a spicier flavor, if you like.
Note: If you can’t get strained yoghurt, you can make it yourself. Here is Ghillie Basan’s tip for making strained yoghurt: Line a sieve (strainer) with a piece of muslin and spoon creamy, natural yoghurt into it. Allow the excess liquid to drip through the muslin, then transfer the yoghurt from the sieve to a bowl.