Friday, June 20, 2008

Cold Kefir Soup for Hot Summer Days

I start with an apology. I cannot remember where I got this recipe from. But it was in my old recipe card box, and the only note was 'Uzbek recipe?' (refering to Uzbekistan, the country in Central Asia; well, actually it said 'usbeki retsept?' on my recipe card, but you know what I mean). I don't know about that - apart from the Cayenne pepper, it sounds very Estonian to me. And on a hot summer day last week, I made this soup - it took me 5 minutes in total, and I fell in love with it all over again.

If you live in the US, you'll find kefir in Whole Foods and international food stores. Lifeway Foods does a decent one. Here's what they've got to say about kefir:

A creamy probiotic dairy beverage similar to but distinct from yogurt. Lifeway believes it offers the largest selection of kefir in the world. Low-fat or non-fat pasteurized milk is the basic ingredient in kefir. Its effervescent quality stems from the kefir culture, which contains ten active "friendly" microorganisms, compared to two or three in yogurt.

What I've got to say about this soup, is following: it takes 5 minutes to put together; it tastes fresh and refreshing; it's highly versatile - you can use any herbs you like or have around; it looks pretty gorgeous; it's good for you; it's very easy to digest :)

Cold Kefir Soup
(Külmsupp usbekkide moodi)
Serves 4

1 litre of plain kefir
250 ml/1 cup cold water
Cayenne'i pepper
2 green 'English' cucumbers
1 bunch of crisp radishes
3 - 4 scallions/spring onions (incl. green parts)
4 Tbsp or more fresh chopped herbs - parsley, dill, coriander/cilantro

Mix kefir and cold water, then season with salt and Cayenne'i pepper to taste.
Wash and dry the cucumbers and radishes, then cut into small cubes or slices. Chop spring onions/scallions and herbs finely. Divide between four soup bowls. (Add an ice cube to each bowl, if it's really hot outside).

Pour the cold kefir mixture over, and serve the soup at once.

See also:
Ximena's El gazpacho de Escolástica, or the best gazpacho in the world
Ajoblanco: the other Spanish chilled soup


Anonymous said...

Positively pretty, Pille! I've recently added kefir (also keffir) to my must-have list, mostly for granola but also for topping fruit for a quick dessert. And now - for soup!

Kalyn Denny said...

Oh my, I love the sound of this!

Anonymous said...

Tere Pille !

Meie oleme kaks prantslased ja me elame siin Eestis. Me armastame vaga sinu blog !

We continue in English to tell you that we really like your recipes especially estonian ones ! Almost every day we look at your blog most of the times only for eyes pleasure but also sometimes to get some nice estonian recipes ! Since last year we are reading it, but today we thought that it would be nice to send you this comment to thank you for all this good mood you give to us !

To know more about us, you can see our blog about Estonia :

Kõike head ja head jaanipidu!

Amélie ja Jonathan

kukupai said...

Mina mäletan seda suppi varasest lapsepõlvest ja vanaema jutu järgi tegi seda juba tema ema, nii et puhas eesti retsept. Sisse võib uhada kõike värsket, mis parasjagu saada on. Leedulastel on sama asi peediga ja kannab nime saltibarcsijai

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I have to admit that I've never had kefir. How is that possible? I'm putting it on my shopping list immediately, as your soup looks lovely for the warm days ahead.

Anonymous said...

I've had it in Latvia (accompanied with boiled potatoes on a separate plate) and in Moldova. I've heard Russians love it and call it Okroshka. It's very good, but I think Latvians no the trick - have some potatoes on side, otherwise you want to eat something 2 hours later (it's very light).

Anonymous said...

Five minutes to make and healthy-looking? Cool1


Dagmar said...

I love cold vegetable soups. I'll try this with my own grown cucumbers (if I'll have any? at least the seeds have grown to medium sized plants!).

Farmer de Ville said...

Whoa... I love kefir and have since I was a teenager. But this idea of making a soup with it is a revelation! Who knew that this was a possibility...

lobstersquad said...

good, thanks for the recipe, I´d been wondering what it´d be like since your comment. and kefir is pretty easy to find now here, which is lucky.

Chef JP said...

Excellent job on this recipe. We're getting some hot weather here in New York and I will definitely give this a try -- Thanks!

Nina said...

hi. It is also very Polish soup - called "cold soup" [in Polish "chłodnik"]- variety of a soup made based on kefir or sour milk is very common in Poland, where I live.

(you may try also natural yoghurt and kefir - half of each]

look here:

Nina said...

maybe you can get "kefir" in Polish stores - if you live in NYC or Chicago :)

there is also some Polish foof in Tesco in U.K.

P.S. If you do not have kefir, you may replace it with sour milk - take normal milk (which means that it has to be bought on the market - not in the box - pasteurization not allowed because it kills milk bacterias) - add a spoon of natural yoghurt - and leave it all in a warm place for one-two days (depending on weather and temperature) - it shall be all sour and thick - and it is now ready to drink or prepare this soup based on

remember to shake it, because sour milk starts to be divided into whey and white, milky part

Nina said...

search for recipies in English in google by: "chłodnik recipe"

hope you will like it

some of Chłodnik"'s are made based on kefir solely, some based on kefir and broth mixed

ChichaJo said...

I could use a big bowl of this right about now :) Yum!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful summer soup! We make it with either kefir or plain yogurt... and if using yogurt add a few ice cubes to each bowl. We also put walnuts in ours. Love the sound of yours with the fresh herbs and radishes!

Maisa said...

Tere Pille!

I've taken an occasional look at your blog over the spring and slowly read the stories ever since the very beginning in 2005. What a love story with you and K!

As a fellow Finno-Ugrian and regular visitor to Estonia I have treasured the texts on mushroom hunting and cafe/restaurant scene in Tallinn.

I was wondering if you could share your favourite foodie shopping destination in Tallinn as well? Outdoors markets, kitchen equipment stores, hidden small shops in the city...?

Thank so much!

pirjo said...

Tere kallis Pille!

I'm going to make that soup for the dinner and I'm sure it's gonna be the hit of the day.
About "Kefir" I wanted to say, that in my opinion "Buttermilk" is basicly the same and you can get it from all stores at least in New York.

After you left New York, we have re-found our own "Kama". Every morning we make kama with the buttermilk and several times I have made your excellent kama-desert (with strawberries and whipped cream).

Thanks for all and have a great summer!
(oh, and Margus has your US phone with him, where could he bring it?)

Anonymous said...

I tried this last night and it was very refreshing. A wonderful summer soup/salad. Our summer has arrived as well, but the Hawaiian trade winds keep it pretty comfortable.

Anonymous said...

I love your recipe. Having grown up in Uzbekistan, I can see why you'd have this recipe labeled as "uzbeki retsept". We ate this soup very often on those very hot evenings. The no-cooking method combined with chilled ingredients makes it a perfect dish for a hot climate.

Anonymous said...

Wow.. Yes i already heard that kefir can be mix with soup, Yummy. I have the other source of Kefir Couching, we both can learn how to make a healthy kefir. Check this out:

dhan said...

It look so delicious, but can I change kefir with yogurt?

Pille said...

Dhan, try buttermilk or yogurt that's been diluted with some water.