I have been making this soup for exactly twenty years. Exactly. How do I know this? Because I made my first version for it during the 1998 World Cup (when France also won). I had invited people over to watch the US play Iran in the first round of games and eat a Persian meal in honor of the match-up. This soup was the appetizer I served. I no longer recall what I made for the rest of the meal, but it is testimony to how good this soup is that I still remember the time and place I first made and tasted it—and that I still make it several times each summer. Oh, there have been additions and adjustments, like the carrots I now include for color and crunch and the switch from yogurt and water in the base to a buttermilk-yogurt combo…these just show you how versatile the recipe is and how you, too, can tailor it to suit your tastes. (Basil instead of mint? Curry powder in place of cumin? Yellow squash instead of carrots? Kefir in place of the buttermilk and yogurt? So many possibilities…)

Persian Cucumber Soup with Mint

Buttermilk fanatic that I am, I’ve replaced the traditional yogurt and water base for this soup with buttermilk. A little yogurt added to the mix mellows the sourness of the buttermilk and makes it palatable to even buttermilk haters.

1 cucumber or ½ English cucumber, peeled and seeded (1 cup)
1 large carrot, grated (1/2 cup)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
10 large mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin, optional
2 cups buttermilk
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup raisins, optional

Grate the cucumber and carrot into a medium bowl. Add the onions, garlic, mint, and cumin, and stir to combine.

Whisk together the buttermilk and yogurt, then fold the mixture into the vegetables. Stir in the raisins. Refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days before serving. (The photo shows the soup garnished with a little carrot top pistou.)