Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yogurt Soup with Rice Filled Meatballs (Köfte) and Mint-Paprika Butter Recipe

When I am blue I eat yogurt. Plain yogurt. Usually with garlic. In soup, or with noodles. Sometimes topped with cayenne pepper and mint. I’ve been eating a lot of yogurt lately. January is a depressing month for me, and, it appears, for lots of my friends, too. One friend wants to buy a grow light for facial sunning in order to avoid seasonal affective disorder, another is planning a trip somewhere tropical, a couple are taking flax oil for mood stabilization, and I’ve been eating a lot of yogurt.

I haven’t really gotten in the swing of things yet this year, and this week has prolonged my readjustment. I was assigned to a medical malpractice case at jury duty, which will last nearly a week, and will take me out of my first classes of the semester at Juilliard. I was looking forward to seeing my students, and to going back to being a little more physical than the holiday lump I’ve been the past few weeks, but, alas, no go. I do feel like a responsible citizen sitting on this jury, and perhaps the knowledge that I am an active part of our judicial system, even in some small way, may help pry me out of the winter doldrums, even without the physical activity of dancing. And if not, there’s always more yogurt.

This is a mashup soup recipe based on recipes from Ayla Esen Algar’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking: one for kofte made with rice, and one for yogurt soup. The following recipe is similar to mantı, minus the noodles or garlic, and why I had a difficult time not devouring all of it in one sitting. It is warming and soothing while in the midst of the type of frigid weather most of the United States has been experiencing the last few weeks. Try it, tell me how you like it, and please share with me your own favorite comfort foods. I may need them; spring is far, far away.

Yogurt Soup with Rice Filled Meatballs (Köfte) and Mint-Paprika Butter Recipe
adapted from Ayla Esen Algar’s Yogurt Soup with Mint, and Köfte in Broth, from The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking

Note from Banu: I am lucky to be the member of a food coop near me where I buy affordably priced, organic, grass-fed meat which is humanely raised on local, sustainable farms, and even this meat I eat rarely. If you are an omnivore, I would encourage you to purchase this type of meat when eating meat at all. It is more expensive, yes, but eating less of it, fewer times a month, and paying more for this sustainable meat will save your health, your wallet, and the planet in the long run.

For the köfte (meatballs):

1 pound of ground beef (or lamb, or a combination of the two)
1 small onion, grated
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup rice (I used brown rice)
1 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste

For the soup base:

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
32 ounces yogurt
6 tablespoons flour (I used spelt flour)
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups water

For the topping:

butter (about 2 tablespoons)
dried mint
paprika or cayenne pepper

Combine the ingredients for the köfte in a bowl; use your clean hands to mix everything together. Form the meat mixture into small balls, about one inch in diameter. Set aside.

Heat the butter and the olive oil in a large pot. Cook the onion over medium-high heat until translucent. Add the water and the salt, and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the köfte, lower the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot. Simmer the köfte until done, about 20 minutes if you used white rice, 30 minutes (or longer) if you used brown rice.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the yogurt, flour, and egg yolks. Whisk everything together until smooth. Add the water until a thin batter forms.

Once the köfte are cooked, slowly add the yogurt mixture to the broth, stirring constantly, and carefully so as not to break up the köfte. Simmer, covered for 10-15 minutes until the soup thickens a bit. If it becomes too thick, add more water. Adjust seasoning, if needed.

In a small saucepan heat the butter. When the butter has melted, add a little mint and a little paprika or cayenne. Heat until sizzling.

Serve the soup in bowls, topped with a little of the mint-paprika butter.

Similar recipes from A Hungry Bear Won't Dance: Pasta with Ground Beef, Parsley, Garlic Yogurt, and Paprika Butter (Piç Mantı), Ground Beef and Herb Stuffed Eggplant, Tomato, and Zucchini (Etli Karışık Dolma), Spring Fava Beans with Garlic Yogurt Recipe


Blogging To A Better Bonnie said...

I hoping one day you'll publish a book of your recipes. There hasn't been one, that upon just reading, hasn't made my mouth water.
This dish seems the perfect remedy for those winter blues. Good luck at jury duty and you'll be back to class in no time.

Banu said...

Aw, thanks, Bonnie. My evening somehow seems brighter now. Thank you for your generous comments!

Blogging To A Better Bonnie said...

You are more than welcome, my blogosphere friend.
Stay warm and well :-)

PS My first comment should have read "I'm hoping" not "I hoping". You know, it's been a long day ;-)

Tau-Mu said...

An interesting dish; thanks for sharing the recipe!

Steve & Sarah Travel the Long Way Round said...

I do remember NY being a particularly tough place in the winter. The wind funneling down the avenues and all that. Good luck with jury duty, good for you for going and being part of a valuable system.

Hathor's Bath said...

Oh lovely! I had a recipe book which was interspersed with Turkish stories - the charming way of storytelling in Turkey (Bir var mis, bir yok mus - "maybe it happened, maybe it didn't") stuck with me for ages. I'm now tempted to try and find that book again. I really enjoy Turkish cooking and the culture is fascinating. I'll give this a try.

I think Jan has started out pretty rubbish for everyone, but things improve. Here's to hoping!

Archivegirl said...

Yum! I think this is one to try out on my friends who don't like things too spicy.
Good for you doing the jury duty. :)

Stacy Strunk said...

OK, I'm a food-dummy...Are you using left-over, already cooked rice or "raw" rice?

Michelle J said...

You really should write a book - your recipes are AMAZING!

I'm going to gain weight following this blog! ;)

SM said...

so so so glad I found your blog. This made my mouth water!
Move over Julia... ;)

Murphyfish said...

Mmmm sounds good Banu, guess thats another one of yours i'll be trying.

Pekin Ogan said...

Hey Banu!!
This sounds delicious!! In fact I remember having something similar (not the same) in my meat-eating days. Good for you for not trying to get out of jury duty by saying something like "the sumabitch is guilty."At the end of the day jury duty is one patriotic obligation that everybody should fulfill.

Velva said...

I find eating plain yogurt with rice very comforting :-)
Your time serving on the jury, I think you will find fascinatingand will take the edge off this insane Winter weather.
Things will be back to normal soon.

Banu said...

Hathor's Bath: thanks! And I'd love to know what Turkish cooking book you are speaking of, if you find it. Stay warm!

Archivegirl: yes, you may use mild paprika for a non-spicy version, and for those who like a little kick, put some cayenne on the table!

Hi Stacy: no, this is not a dumb question! You may use uncooked rice in the this recipe, although, since I used brown rice, it took a significantly longer time to cook than if I had used white uncooked rice, so I thought that if I made this again, I'd parboil (cook halfway) the brown rice to reduce simmering time. No need to do this for white rice. Make sense?

Michelle: thanks very much for the compliments, but hey! There's a lot of healthy stuff on here, so if you eat a variety of the foods, and in moderation, you won't gain an ounce. I'm a dancer, after all, so figure friendly food is important to me. Happy eating!

SM and John: thank you both. I hope you make this, and please send a full report!

Baba: thanks, and yes, I am enjoying my stint at jury duty, even if I harbor a bit of guilt about missing teaching.

Velva: Thanks. You are woman after my own heart.

Richard said...

Looks amazing! Brb getting $10

Julia Kelly said...

I tried it! And it is a keeper- course the children almost cried- but the hubby and I like it and there will be plenty of broth to eat with noodles this week for lunches! thanks!!!

Banu said...

Oh, fantastic, Julia! I'm so happy you liked it. Yes, I thought of adding some pasta to the leftover broth, too, so please tell me how you like it that way; good thinking!

powderate said...

Dear Banu,

Sorry you pulled jury duty. I had jury duty, twice in a row! It was just after I got out of high school, living away from home, I worked nights as a server and I kept having to fight to stay awake. The hard chairs and the intense focus was a trial in itself ... however it gave me a sense that the system was affective for the most part. It gave me better listening skills.

When I get melancholy I boost my intake of red star nutritional yeast. It has 8-10 grams of protein and 0 fat in 2 T and is a stress buster... all those B's.

And finally I'd like to say that I love the style of your writing and the knowledge you share. Thank you. Lee Ann.

Banu said...

Hi Powderate,

Thank you for your kind comments about my blog! It makes my day to hear that people are finding it useful.

I, too, am learning a lot about our judicial system by this jury duty. Tomorrow I hope we'll have a verdict!

Thanks for the reminder about nutritional yeast; I like to sprinkle it on my popcorn, so perhaps it's time to pop up a batch!

Chef E said...

This dish looks perfect! I would love this, and am book marking it to make...

Dylan said...

This type of cuisine is amazing and eye opening. Absolutely love it.

sanjeet said...

Good luck at jury duty and you'll be back to class in no time.

Work from home India

Mimi said...

This soup sounds really interesting, might try it a t the weekend, tho I don't usually like yogurt.
Re the jury case- I find that every experience teaches me something, even the ones I don't want to be part of. Hope it goes well for you. And I very much doubt that you're a "holiday lump"!

Natalie C said...

I am sooo Glad i have found this recipe - my friend made this for me a while ago and i never heard of it since...so thank you for sharing this...However i have a question - i dont really eat yoghurt so i haven't a clue - which yoghurt do i use - Suzme yoghurt or the other one? Thanks x

Banu said...

Hi Natalie,

Great. I'm glad you found this recipe! You can use normal yogurt for this, the other one will be too thick. I hope you enjoy it, and let me know how it turns out!

Natalie said...

Hi Banu - I made it this evening and it was gorgeous! i didnt put all the yogurt mixture in as i was a bit scared! however was lovely and im sure next time i will be brave enough to put all yogurt mixture in and it will be great! will be making this again - especially with winter coming up here in Turkey...thanks again :o)

Banu said...

Hi Natalie,

I'm so glad you liked it; this is one of my absolute favorites. And yes, next time add all the yogurt; it's not too intense. Enjoy Turkey!

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