This hot, humid summer reminds me of growing up on Hill Street. Summers then seemed endless and every possible moment (after the chores were completed) was spent outside. Softball in the front yard; diving off the slick, moss-covered dam at Lake Hibernia; exploring ‘the woods’ at the top of the hill’; riding bikes; playing pirates on the enormous rocks at the back edge of Charlie Rowe’s back yard. Sometimes when we were all still small, my father – Scoop – would swing us around until we were all dizzy. Then we’d catch fireflies in jars.
On especially hot summer nights, when the house retained all the heat of the day, we’d head outdoors and try to sleep under the stars. Sleeping was hard, though. Not so much because of the heat, but because it was like a big party. In those days before air conditioning, the whole neighborhood was outside.
When it’s hot, who wants to eat hot food? After awhile, even the most delicious salads become a bore. So when Food & Wine‘s newsletter full of recipes for chilled soups arrived in my inbox, I felt like I’d struck gold. Most intrigued by the yogurt soup, it was the first on my list to try.
CHILLED PERSIAN YOGURT SOUP
BY HOSS ZARÉ
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried rose petals, crushed*
2 cups 2 percent plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups ice water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely diced (1 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1/4 cup finely chopped dill
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ground sumac*, for garnish
- Toast walnuts in a pan over medium head, tossing frequently until golden. Let cool, then finely chop.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the crushed rose petals with cold water and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the petals and squeeze dry.
- In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the ice water. Stir in the raisins, cucumber, mint, dill, chives, walnuts and rose petals and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour. Serve the soup in shallow bowls, sprinkled with sumac.
* Rose petals and ground sumac are available at specialty food shops/Middle Eastern Markets. Locally, my go-to places for spices is Colonel De’s at Findlay Market.
The soup is cool and refreshing with loads of crunch from the cukes and walnuts and fresh, floral flavors from the rose petals and sumac. I’ve never cooked with rose petals or sumac before, but loved these flavors in the soup. The sumac is deep raspberry in color and has a tart/berry/lemon flavor with salty undertones (apparently salt is sometimes added to ground sumac).