Persian Cold Yogurt-Buttermilk Soup

(2011) It is almost 100 degrees outside and even hotter in my Ivory Tower.

I don’t have to imagine what it must be like in Iraq or Afghanistan. It feels and looks like a Middle Eastern war zone outside my window.

Today’s soup is a lifesaver, literally. A bowl of this creamy tart soup, with its touches of sweet and crunch, perks up any diminished appetite.

It contains homemade yogurt made from organic milk, high water content cucumbers from the garden and a bouquet of fresh herbs including cooling mint and dill. Local free-range organic eggs provide the protein. With some za’atar toast it is a light refreshing lunch.

For many years this was the only cold soup I ever made or ate. It took me a long time to warm up to cold soup. Living without air conditioning made cool and room temperature foods appealing.

There are four cold soups in my line up- the gazpacho I made at Madison’s Produce in Findlay Market, a golden gazpacho I used for many summer catering gigs, a fruit gazpacho I created for the brunch at Slims, and today’s Persian Cold Yogurt-Buttermilk Soup.

Every one of these cold soups must begin with the best seasonal ingredients. If everything is not at its peak flavor the soup should not be made.

Of course, the main ingredient in this Persian soup, yogurt, MUST be tart and flavorful. I only make this soup with homemade. It takes about half an hour to make yogurt. Really, the yogurt practically makes itself. It makes all the difference. Dannon? I beg you, please don’t. It’s only good as a quick sunburn remedy.

Serve Persian Cold Yogurt-Buttermilk Soup in chilled bowls to your guests before a meal from the grill. Take it along in a thermos to a picnic.

Gross out your co-workers while they crunch their way through a ’Taco Bell Big Box’.

Then tell them “They love this in Iran”.

Persian Cold Yogurt-Buttermilk Soup

Serves 6-8

Cook’s notes: Tart creamy yogurt combines with cooling cucumbers, mint and dill to perk up a diminished summer appetite. Serve it with crispy za’atar toast.

Make it your own: Sometimes I garnish the soup with finely chopped egg yolk.

2 cups Arabic or Organic Yogurt

4 cups Buttermilk, preferably organic

3 Hard-Boiled Eggs, peeled and roughly chopped (Hard-boil 2 extra eggs and use the yolks to garnish each bowl)

Juice of 2 Limes, or to taste

Kosher Salt to taste

1/3 cup dried Currants

1 Cucumber, finely chopped. Lightly salt the chopped cucumber, transfer to a colander, and drain for at least thirty minutes.

2 tablespoons Green Onions or Chives, cut into thin slices

2 tablespoons Fresh Dill, finely minced or 2 teaspoons Dill Weed

2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Fresh Mint, finely chopped

Ground Black Pepper

Puree the yogurt, buttermilk, eggs, and limejuice in a blender until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and salt to taste.

Add the currants, cucumbers, green onions, dill, parsley and mint. Stir to combine the ingredients.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

When ready to serve, season with pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve the cold soup in chilled bowls.