The recipe below is Bulgarian. The cucumber is combined with another appropriately ancient ingredient: walnuts are the oldest cultivated nuts. And yogurt is so quintessentially Bulgarian that you can see it in the name of one of the bacteria that produces yogurt: Lactobacillus bulgaricus. So this dish, or some version of it, goes back a few years.

Tarator is served chilled, and it is a lovely summer soup. Enjoy.

Bulgarian Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Walnuts

1-2 cloves garlic
2 cups plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/3–1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried dill or 1 Tbs. fresh, finely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup cold water

Finely mince the garlic and stir into the yogurt. Cut the cucumber into 1/4-inch dice and add to the yoghurt. Add walnuts, salt, and dill, and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the olive oil 1 Tbs. at a time, stirring until well blended. Finally, stir in the cold water.

Refrigerate at least one hour, until thoroughly chilled and flavors have blended. Serve in chilled bowls. Serves 4.

Notes: The easiest way to seed a cucumber is to cut it in half lengthwise, and then run the tip of a teaspoon down the center, scooping out all the seeds.

You may want to reserve a tablespoon or so of nuts to use as garnish when serving the soup. You might also wish to sprinkle a little extra dill on top.

I did see a recipe for tarator that tells you to just toss everything except the walnuts in a food processor, and then stir the walnuts into the purée. I like the texture of the older, hand-cut version, but the pureed version would taste just as good. Do what is easiest for you, and enjoy.

© 2008 Cynthia Clampitt

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