Cold Tarator Soup for Nine Meatless Days

image-tarator-soupThis refreshing soup fits the menu perfectly when temperatures soar and the nine meatless days of Av begin.

A quick historical note is in place here. The Jewish month of Av begins on a dark note.  The preceding three weeks in Tammuz see a slowdown of joyful activities, as Jews remember the breach of Jerusalem’s defenses by Nebuchanezzer, which lead to the ultimate destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. From the 17th of Tammuz, which occurs in early to mid- July, observant Jews celebrate no weddings, hear no live music, and don’t get haircuts or shave. Mourning increases as Tammuz gives way to Av. Until the climactic fast of Tisha B’Av,  prohibited are bathing for pleasure (normal hygiene is permitted, but not swimming),  buying or wearing new clothes, drinking wine, and eating meat. See Karin’s 5 stories of environmental disasters that give anyone license to mourn at this time.

Tisha B’Av occurs on Saturday night, the 29th of July this year, finishing on Sunday night, the 30th.

On a purely physical level, the Nine Days take place during the hottest part of the summer. Considering the astonishing heat wave that the Middle East is experiencing, it makes sense to refrain from heavy meat- and poultry-based foods, turning to light, cold foods like yogurt-based Balkan tarator to satisfy hunger without loading the stomach down. And some of the Nine Days usually coincide with Ramadan. Arwa’s vegetarian Ramadan ideas are also worth following during these sultry days.

Tarator – Yogurt and Cucumber Soup
Ingredients:
3 cups cucumbers, peeled and chopped coarsely (if organic, don’t peel)
1 tablespoon table salt
3 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 cups cold buttermilk
1 cup plain cold yogurt
3  medium cloves garlic, crushed to a fine paste
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 cup cold water
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
25 grams walnuts, crushed

Mix the cucumbers with the remaining ingredients, except for the oil and walnuts, in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Before serving, taste to adjust salt if needed. Stir the oil in.

Add a teaspoon or two of crushed walnuts to each individual bowl, without stirring in. Serve, accompanied by fresh bread.
Note: a more Middle-Eastern flavor may be introduced by substituting fresh mint for the dill. I prefer mint, personally.
More refreshing vegetarian hot-weather recipes from Green Prophet:

Image of Tarator, Bulgarian National Soup from Shutterstock

Miriam also blogs at Israeli Kitchen.

 

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