This post is part of the Loving Local: Celebrating the Flavors of Massachusetts blogathon hosted by In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens during Mass Farmer's Market week, August 22-28. I am posting a little early, but I have a good excuse -- I am having a baby that week. Besides, I couldn't wait to tell you about my new favorite find in the world of chilled soups. All the produce for this dish was purchased at our wonderful Natick Farmer's Market. It happens on Saturdays in the Natick center starting at 9am. If you haven't yet stopped by your local farmer's market, please do. The produce is outstanding this year! You can also make a donation to the The Federation of Mass Farmers Markets.
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I already told Jason what I want for my first meal after I give birth -- a stuffed flatbread and a soup from Sofra. Sofra is my usual lunch spot after the ob check ups since they offer the best food within 5 minutes from the hospital. Last Friday, I had a fabulous yogurt soup there. Whenever I think yogurt soup, I think cucumber, but the version at Sofra was showing off heirloom tomatoes and knocked my socks off with its punchy sweetness and velvety tomato texture. It had other stuff too -- paper thin cucumber slices, and a hint of mint, garlic, and olive oil. I loved this soup so much I recreated it at home this weekend and wrote up a recipe for you.
My first kiddo, Sammy, was born right after 8pm, just as MtAuburn hospital cafeteria was closing. As I was struggling to push her out with the last bit of energy I had left after hours of labor, I remember the nurse telling poor stressed out Jason to ask me what I want to eat after I give birth (since that was his last chance to order food for me). I was semi-conscious by that point, but remember my reply being something like this: "I think I am gonna die, and you want me to figure out what I want to eat!!!" or maybe it was something like this: "If this baby ever comes out of me, I am willing to give up eating for the rest of my life." But eventually, Sammy did come out and we were all insanely happy, and surprisingly hungry.
Since ordering cafeteria food was the path of least resistance, that's what we did for the next 24 hours or so and it was some of the worst food I've ever had in my life. Thank God for our dear friends Gaia and Jerome who brought us all sorts of lovely food on the second day. Why did we never think of getting food from somewhere else? I have no idea. Giving birth does something strange to your brain function. Well, at least we're now older and wiser. This time, we are not going to suffer through 2 days of disintegrating pasta, chemically flavored yogurt, and rubber textured chicken breasts. I just hope Sofra keeps that lovely yogurt soup on the menu for another couple of weeks, so that I can have it after giving birth, but whatever their soup of the day will be, I am sure it will be a hundred times better than anything from the hospital menu.
Chilled Tomato Yogurt Soup
Summer is the perfect time for this soup. Please don't try to make it if you can't get your hands on the ripest seasonal tomatoes and strained full fat yogurt. Fage Total Greek yogurt is a good brand widely available, but whatever yogurt you use should be as thick as sour cream and sinfully rich. If you can't find baby or Armenian cucumbers, use any cucumbers you want, but you might want to peel and seed larger cucumbers before slicing.
Serves 4 as the first course
3 large tomatoes
2 cups very thick full fat plain yogurt
1 mashed garlic clove
2 Tbsp minced fresh herbs (such as mint, dill, cilantro, or basil)
4 tsp olive oil
1 baby cucumber, sliced paper thin on a mandoline
Salt to taste
Slice tomatoes in half through the equator and dig out the seeds with your fingers. Discard seeds. Grate tomatoes on a box grater (start with the cut side and you'll get all the flesh out of them). Discard the skins. Generously salt the tomato flesh and let sit for 10 minutes.
Put the tomatoes in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Force the liquid through with a ladle into a bowl (make sure to save both the liquid and the pulp!). Puree the tomato liquid with yogurt, garlic and herbs in a blender. Taste and season with salt as needed. Divide the tomato pulp among 4 bowl and top with 4 tsp olive oil (1 tsp per bowl). Mix to combine. Divide cucumber slices and soup among the bowls. Garnish with additional cucumber slices, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.