Kurut Aşı: A traditional yogurt-cheese soup worth giving a shot

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WHAT'S SPECIAL

Nothing fills you up and warms your body like a good soup. Naturally, the liquid-y goodness that is a soup has been around for centuries in many forms and some have not changed much. One of those is Kurut Aşı.

What is Kurut Aşı?

Kurut Aşı is made from the same named cheese Kurut with the addition of noodles and broth. It is quite popular to add lentils, especially the green kind, to the soup, along with garlic and herbs such as mint and parsley.

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The origins

Before we can have a look at Kurut Aşı we need to get a hold of Kurut first. The cheese made out of yogurt was a necessity to preserve the abundance of yogurt of the nomadic Turks. The yogurt is dried in the sun and formed in a variety of shapes to be consumed later.

The first mention of this cheese in written form was by the Persian scholar Ibn Qutaybah, who penned down that Turks were making a cheese that was not made from milk but from yogurt, or at the very least out of buttermilk. He was not quite sure but he noted that it was indeed called “Kurut”. (1)

And what to do with a stone hard cheese but to make it soft again! While soldiers ground up the cheese with water to make a refreshing drink out of it, people got crafty and made soups out of them as well. Considering the cattle that they had available it made sense to utilize the bones and meat scraps as a broth. The combination of the two made for a soup that is mentioned in the same breath with Tarhana, another essential way to preserve yogurt but for the purpose of only making soup. (2) (3)

Just like Tarhana the Kurut kind of soup was prepared in the hot summer months for the lean winter to provide some variety of food. While with Tarhana some yogurt was used to be preserved Kurut utilized yogurt only with the small addition of salt. (3) This traditional way of making this soup has survived to the very day especially in the eastern province of Van, that keeps their traditions alive and well due to the pastoral way of living. (4) While other regions have similar dishes the usage of Kurut in this way is unique to this province.

Etymology

The word “kurut” stems from the Turkish word “kurutmak” meaning “to dry”. The word is said to have been taken by the Mongolians, the cousins of the Turks. The word “aş” has been first recorded in the Orkhon inscriptions dating back to the early 8th century written in the old Turkic alphabet, meaning “food”, though usually it is mean that it is “hot and liquid”. The word “aş” is used for all kinds of soups and stews to this very day.

Kurut Aşı: A traditional yogurt-cheese soup worth giving a shot

If you can get your hand on some Kurut, or you want to try to make that traditional cheese yourself, you can check out the Kurut entry. Either way having a try cannot hurt but if you get a chance, visiting a traditional restaurant for the authentic taste can only be recommended. Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 400 ml broth beef or alike
  • 600 ml dissolved Kurut
  • 1 onion
  • 1 handful of noodles “su eriştesi” is usually used here but short cut noodles can be a substitute
  • 1 bundle of mint
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a few stems of parsley
  • 150 gr cooked green lentils
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt oil

Instructions

  • Chop the onion finely and sauté it with a bit of cooking oil.
  • Once softened add tomato paste, salt and broth and bring it to a boil.
  • Add noodles, lentils and finely chopped mint and parsley to the mix and cook until the noodles are no longer hard.
  • Finally add the dissolved Kurut, bring it one last time to a boil and turn off the heat.
  • Crush the garlic and serve the soup with some of it.

Notes

Bibliography
(1) Ayla Ünver Alçay, “Kurut ve Türk Mutfağında Kullanımı” in “Aydın Gastronomy, 1 (2):31-39”, 2017
(2) Gonca Kılıç, Hürriyet Çimen, Bircan Ergün, “Traditional Afyonkarahisar Cuisine and Local Dishes”
(3) Sami Kılıç, Ali Albayrak, “İslamiyetten Önce Türklerde Yiyecek ve İçecekler” in “Turkish Studies - International Periodical For The Languages, Literature and History of Turkish or Turkic Volume 7/2 Spring 2012, p.707-716”, 2012
(4) Hasan Köşker, Sıla Karacaoğlu, “Turizmde Yerel Yiyeceklerin Önemi ve Coğrafi İşaretleme: Van Otlu Peyniri”, 2014
 
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