We know the temperatures in Bodrum still permit for swimming, but sometimes those evening breezes off the sea can be chilly! Warm up your skin and soul with this traditional Turkish soup.
Yayla Çorbası, also known as Yogurt Soup, is a thick and hearty traditional Turkish soup from the cool and rainy northern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The name, reflective of the soups origins, is derived from “yaylalar”, or the high mountain meadows of that region, which is also famed for the quality of it’s dairy products. The main ingredients – yogurt, flour, rice, egg yolk, and mint – are all easily-found staples of Black Sea and Anatolian cuisine. As with most Turkish dishes, recipes have been passed down from mother to daughter and neighbor to neighbor over the centuries, resulting in great variation region to region and kitchen to kitchen. Turkish families often serve this soup in winter, when the Black Sea drizzle chills residents to the bones, or when someone is fighting a cold. If you’re shivering when the suns dips down before you have time to fully dry off from a day’s swim, then this is the perfect soup to try at home!
You will need:
- 1/2 cup white rice
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 2 T flour
- 1 tsp salt
- White or black pepper to taste
- 2 T butter
- 2 T dried mint
- First, measure out the rice and put it in a covered soup pot with a pinch of salt and 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook until the rice is soft. If you have boiled chicken legs/thighs (see “variations” below) then you can replace the water with the chicken stock.
- Measure one cup of yogurt (preferably whole) into a bowl. Whisk until the texture is completely even.
- Next, mix in the flour and beat briskly.
- Once the flour and yogurt are amalgamated, beat in the egg yolk. Keep beating until the mixture has a silky smooth texture.
- Once the rice is cooked, take one ladle of hot water from the pot of rice and gently stir it into the yogurt mixture to raise the temperature. If you skip this step, your yogurt might separate when you pour it in the hot broth.
- Gradually pour the yogurt mixture into the soup pot with the rice, whisking all the while.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Continue whisking until the mixture simmers. Take it off the heat before it boils.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter and dried mint in a saucepan. Once this boils, stir it into the soup and serve!
- Add chicken: Before cooking the soup, boil 1-2 chicken thighs and several bay leaves in water until the meat is tender and falls off the bone. De-skin, de-bone, and add to the soup when finished. For a complete recipe that incorporates chicken, see this recipe on food.com. While definitely not traditional, you can also add Turkey. Simply Recipes has an adapted recipe with Turkey and chickpeas here.
- Add chickpeas: cook chickpeas beforehand, or add drained canned chickpeas to the soup and cook together for the last 3 minutes.
- Substitute rice out for buckwheat. Buckwheat provides a nutty flavor and is lower in calories and starch but higher in fiber and protein. This recipe substitutes rice for cracked wheat.
- Top with mint butter, savory sumac, urfa isot (dark roasted pepper), paprika, thyme or cayenne pepper to suit your taste.
- There are as many variations as households in Turkey! Try a few more recipes here, here and here.
Terrified of trying Turish cooking on your own? There are plenty of great cooking classes around Istanbul and the Izmir Peninsula. If you’re vacationing at Çeşme or Izmir, we encourage you to try out Babushka Alaçatı!
Here are 15 great blogs to check out if you are curious about living in Turkey, want to try out more Mediterranean Cooking, or are just searching for some travel inspiration:
- Turkey’s For Life: Julie and Barry, two UK citizens, share advice, recipes, and plenty of personal adventures on this extensive blog.
- Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Photos, easy-to-follow recipes and interesting tales woven together by an award-winning chef who also happens to offer online cooking lessons.
- Turkey from the Inside: Pat, a UK-origined former Thomas Cook travel specialist, travel book author and writer for Today’s Zaman takes readers on a whirlwind tour through the culture and history of many different Turkish regions
- Back to Bodum: An Aussie expat and her Turkish husband re-adjust to life in the Turkish countryside
- Pul Biber – With Everything (Red Pepper with Everything) Two retired UK expats living in Selçuk adjust from their fast-paced London life to soaking up the small town sights, smells and occasional serenity
- Adventures in Ankara: A Pennsylvania native and lawyer by profession shares her adventures and observations after moving to Ankara with her Turkish husband. Plenty of travel tips, trip reviews, and a culinary corner as well.
- A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: A 30+ year expat resident of Istanbul share’s the years’ best fare with recipes fit for every season.
- Slowly By Slowly: “Roadtripping through one Turkish-American marriage with a troupe of backseat-driving Karagöz puppets”
- Almost Turkish Recipes: Simple and tasty meals you can make in your own kitchen, regardless of whether you have access to Turkey’s extensive outdoor bazaars.
- From the Seven Hills of Istanbul: A Wisconsin native who has lived almost continuously in Turkey since completing her MA in Turkish Studies in 2009 now shares restaurant reviews and travel tips covering Bursa and Istanbul.
- Binur’s Turkish Cookbook: Recipes, tantalizing photos. What more could you want in a simple food blog?
- The Turkish Life: A SF native residing in Istanbul and writing about food, running, photography and the environment
- Far From the Sticks: An East Coaster residing in Ankara with her Turkish husband shares stories, photos and culinary adventures.
- Adana Adventures: Part travel /living guide, part blog written by an American expat living in Adana with his Turkish wife.
- Inside Out Istanbul: Lisa Morrow, author of Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City and Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries shares book reviews, life tales, and plenty of photos.
+ 1 Best of Bursa: An expat family shares their favorite experiences in a city they’ve come to call home.
Looking for More Reading: the Daily Sabah has also collected an “Ultimate list of expat blogs on Turkey” to be found here.
Sütlaç’s closest kin is rice pudding, but you’ll notice that the inside texture is silky, and the top is coated with a thick and creamy skin. It’s perhaps accurate to call fırın sütlaç (or, oven-milk pudding) a cross between Crème brûlée, custard and iced arroz con leche. While originally made with rose water, today’s sütlaç is more commonly flavored with vanilla. Served cold in thick clay dishes, it’s the perfect dessert to cool off on a summer eve – or cool your tastebuds after a spicy dinner.
History: Fırın sütlaç originated in Ottoman kitchens. The original name “sütlü aş” identifies it as hailing from the Rumelia (now Balkan) region, which is why you can find similiar rice pudding dishes across the Balkan states. Today sütlaç is popular across Turkey, though rice grains, ingredient ratios and topping or flavoring will vary from region to region.
This photo of FELAMURDA KAFE/RESTAURANT is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Recipe: Unlike crème brûlée, sütlaç’s main ingredient is simply milk. Most cooks swear by using fresh and unpasturized whole milk when making the dessert. While not exactly a health food, sütlaç won’t kill your gut or fill you with regret.
If you want to make sütlaç you will need: 4 cups milk (preferably fresh), 1/2 cup rice, 2 T cornstarch or rice flour, 1 cup sugar (or pekmez), 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 beaten egg yolk.
- First, boil the rice with 2 cups water (though some recipes recommend cooking the rice with milk to give it fuller flavor).
- After cooking the rice (about 25 min), stir in all but 1/4c of the milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat, letting it boil gently for about ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk.
- After ten minutes, add the cornstarch mixture to the rice and milk, gently stirring it in. Lower the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes.
- After the pudding thickens stir for another 2-5 minutes before removing the mixture from the stove and pouring 1/2c-1c servings into individual bowls or foil tins. Swirl a small part of the egg yolk into each serving.
- Let sit until the pudding has cooled to room temperature, and then sprinkle with sugar and broil in the oven until the top has browned.
You can find other full sütlaç recipe (there are dozens of varieties) and instructions here and here (rosewater with pistacho crumble)
Our Favorite Variations: If you want to truly try sütlaç, make sure you are tasting the real deal. The pudding should be ice cold, have a thick skin half golden-brown, and be served in a red clay cup. Traditional sütlaç is flavored with rose water (not vanilla) and topped with crumbled pistachios, and can be found at Ottoman restaurants; for more modern variations, try a dessert cafe like MADO.