We had a dinner party last week and decided to make my husband’s special Yogurt Soup, or shwediz for the occasion. This is a mild soup that anyone can enjoy, but it’s undeniably unusual and delightfully exotic- a great introduction to Kurdish cooking.
Creamy, yet very savory and flavorful, the soup is often served at Kurdish weddings. It is eaten at or around room temperature- meaning you don’t have to worry about having it piping hot when it gets to the table.
The greatest thing about the soup though, is that it comes together fairly easily, although you will end up getting all your big pots and saucepans dirty. This is a great soup to make when it’s not your night to do the dishes!
You will need:
2 lb container of plain, firm yogurt (not smooth and creamy)
1 medium sized bone-in lamb shank, or 1/2 pound of bite-sized lamb stew meat
1 1/2 cups of green beans (fresh, chopped to 1″)
1 cup of dried chickpeas (soaked in cold water overnight)
1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms (optional)
1 large garlic clove
red pepper flakes
dried mint flakes
1) So the first thing you’ll need to do is boil your meat. Put the shank or meat into salted, boiling water and let it sit uncovered. When nasty looking foam comes up to the surface, skim it away.
In a separate pot, boil the mushrooms, green beans, and chickpeas. If you forgot to soak your chickpeas overnight, you can still throw them in there if you don’t mind them being a bit firm. Alternatively, yes, fine, you can use canned.
2) When the meat has been mostly cooked and no more foam is coming up, pull out the shank and chop the edible meat off the bone into bite-size chunks. I like to use some of the lamb water (plus salt and olive oil) to make rice; we’re not going to need a lot of the water in the soup.
3) Combine the lamb, remaining lamb water (no bones) and veggies and vegetable water into one large soup pot. Continue to simmer uncovered so that it reduces.
4) Meanwhile, smash the garlic. My husband uses the broad side of a knife for this; I like to chop the clove very finely, sprinkle with salt, and then use a spoon to mush it. Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until very smooth and then add a spoonful of salt and the crushed garlic. Mix very well. Taste the yogurt to make sure that the salt and garlic flavors come through.
5) When the flavors have combined in your pot, turn off the heat and look at the amount of water you have left. If you have more than about an inch or so of liquid left, ladle some out. You don’t want more than about a cup of broth in the soup.
6) Adding the yogurt to the piping hot broth will cause the yogurt to curdle and separate, so wait until the it cools considerably before combining. When the broth is cool enough to touch, add the yogurt gradually while stirring and mix very well. Taste and add salt if necessary.
7) Finally, take a small frying pan and pour in 1/3 cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on it, shake in a good amount of mint, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and immediately remove from heat. Swirl the pan gently so that the oil absorbs the flavors. This red-hot oil gives the soup its flavor so don’t be stingy. Drizzle it over the soup and stir twice- don’t blend.
And you’re done! Serve with rice or some toasty French bread. Depending on the appetites of your guests, this recipe serves 6-8 people.
My husband likes to eat the leftovers cold, sometimes for breakfast! I usually reheat in the microwave for a few minutes on a low temperature setting. Microwaving it on high will curdle the yogurt.
Vegan/Veggie rating: I suspect this soup would taste just fine without the meat. Just use the water you use to boil the green beans or substitute a veggie broth for water. Sorry vegans, I can’t endorse a yogurt substitute for this soup.