Two weeks ago, I was luckily enough to attend a Turkish cooking class at the Turkish Cultural Center in Sunnyside, Queens. Run by a sassy mom of three named Sila, we learned in rapid succession how to make tender and succulent chicken shish kebabs, semolina roses, and yogurt chickpea soup, also known as toyga corbasi.
Toyga soup was the clear winner of the night for me – it was incredibly quick and easy to make, tasty, rather healthy, and somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Another great plus is that none of the ingredients are hard to track down, and can most likely be found in the comfort of your own larder. Yea, I said larder. I don’t know how to explain this any further than I’ve been bundled to the nines all day and have felt like my own episode of Little House On the Prarie.
The following is from the recipe from the Turkish Cultural Center’s blog, with some notes that I found helpful in the making of said soup. I’ve also made my version with just a little more heft, as it’s been bitterly cold outside.
1 3/4 cup chickpeas (Canned is fine, washed and drained. Otherwise, if you’re a smartypants, you might have some precooked dried chickpeas lying in wait.)
2 cup water
1 cup yogurt
1 cup water
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained (If using fresh, a bunch should do.)
1 garlic clove, mashed with salt (Add more garlic to taste…so I made mine with 3…or was it 5?)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. dry mint
Place the chickpeas with water in a medium pot. Check to make sure that the chickpeas are tender – sometimes the canned versions can be a little unevenly crunchy and can use a little more cooking time. Bring everything to a boil over medium-low heat.
Whisk the egg yolk, flour, spinach and yogurt together in a small bowl.
This is the point to proceed with caution. We will need to temper this mixture (basically evening out the temperature between the hot cooking chickpeas and cold yogurt mixture) to keep it from curdling in the soup.
So. Turn down the heat on the stove.
Take a few large spoons of liquid from the pot and mix into the bowl. You may see some worrisome bits at first, but then everything should blend together smoothly. Then slowly, SLOWLY pour the mixture into the pot on the stove while stirring very slowly.
If everything goes as planned, the soup should be milky and smooth.
Simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low heat, while stirring occasionally. The soup should gradually become thicker.
Add the spinach, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, then stir and turn the heat off. The lemon in the soup worried me initially but no, it doesn’t make things curdle and also just served to brighten up this simple soup without any overt sour notes.
FOR THE GARNISH:
Place the butter in a small saucepan. When it begins bubbling, stir in the dried mint and let it sizzle for a few seconds. Pour over your soup. If pouring butter into soup isn’t your thing (it should be), a drizzle of good olive oil instead would also do the trick.
This soup was a lifesaver after a cold evening of running errands all over the neighborhood. (Toilet paper and Q-tips. Least glamorous girl ever.) It took less than 1/2 hr to prepare and for a vegetarian soup with a non-broth base, was deliciously warming and filling served alongside some buttered slices of miche from the newly opened Bien Cuit. I am obsessed with this place.
Ahem, hem. Hello, is this on? Bring me a ham and brie croissant. Please.
(Also, the next class at the Turkish Cultural Center is on February 6th. The classes are capped at 15, and is sold out for the next session, but Session 7 tickets are still available at a very reasonable $25 here.)