WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Called cacik in Turkey, tzatziki in Greece, and tarator in the rest of the Balkans, a mixure of yogurt, cucumber, herbs, and garlic is eaten throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The dish can have nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, or vinegar added and variously takes the form of dip, sauce, side, or soup. We wanted to make a perfect version of this as a soup for a hot summer’s evening. But with so few ingredients, we knew that balance and finesse would be key. A food processor turned our soup mushy, and hand chopping all of the cucumber gave us something watery and inconsistent. We found that blending some of the cucumbers and reserving a final chopped handful as a garnish gave us the smooth consistency we wanted with texture to boot. Peeling and seeding the cucumbers removed unpleasantly bitter flavors. We knew that alliums would be important to impart a savory quality but found that garlic, shallots, red onion, and scallions were too astringent; it was only after we left in just the scallion greens that we found the right balance. Tasters preferred dill and mint to other herb combinations as they brought out the freshest aspect of the soup.
5 pounds English cucumbers, peeled and seeded (1 cucumber cut into ½-inch pieces, remaining cucumbers cut into 2-inch pieces)
4 scallions, green parts only, chopped coarse
2 cups water
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon sugar
1½ tablespoons minced fresh dill
1½ tablespoons minced fresh mint
Extra-virgin olive oil
- Toss 2-inch pieces of cucumber with scallions. Working in 2 batches, process cucumber-scallion mixture in blender with water until completely smooth, about 2 minutes; transfer to large bowl. Whisk in yogurt, lemon juice, 1½ teaspoons salt, sugar, and pinch pepper. Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
- Stir in dill and mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping individual portions with remaining ½-inch pieces of cucumber and drizzling with oil.