Nigel Slater's recipe for yogurt

Yogurt is a magic ingredient, bringing harmony to delicious soups and crunchy salads

I've started my day with yogurt, the spicier the better, for as long as I can remember. It may be a small dish of pure white curd eaten by the teaspoon or, as it is now in late winter – in a deep bowl topped with blood orange slices, gem-like clusters of pomegranate, passion fruit, chia seeds, and toasted oats. More often than not, I end it that way too, with a scoop or two before climbing the stairs to bed. In this house, a day without yogurt is almost unthinkable.

In this house, a day without yogurt is almost unthinkable

In the kitchen, I prefer the thinner, unfiltered version to the thick and creamy, which sometimes lacks the refreshing acidity. Here, yogurt can be used as a salad dressing; poured into colanders, salted and dried to produce homemade labne; or stirred into lentil soup or chicken casserole. A last-minute fizz of acidity to liven up a recipe or simply introduce a bit of harmony and balance to a dish.

Yogurt, wheat, spinach and lentil soup

You can make this soup the day before you plan to eat it if you wish, but stop before adding the yogurt. Only put in the yogurt when the soup is boiling, otherwise everything will curdle. I sometimes like to put a spoonful of thick yogurt in every bowl on the table. Portions 4-6

  • green lentils 100g
  • wheat grains 90g
  • onion 600g
  • garlic 2 cloves
  • olive oil 2 tbsp
  • cumin seeds 1 tsp
  • coriander powder 1 tsp
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • vegetable broth 1.2 liters
  • spinach leaves 150g
  • lemon juice 1
  • thick yogurt 200g
  • ground turmeric 2 pinch
  • ground paprika 2 large pinch
  • mint 16 medium size leaves

Rinse the lentils, put them in a deep saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat slightly and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Soak oats in a bowl of warm water.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the onion. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy skillet over medium heat, then add the onions and let them cook until soft -- about 20 minutes. Peel and thinly slice the garlic, add to the onion and, once everything is soft, add the cumin, coriander and cinnamon. Let the marinade cook for a minute or two, then drain the oats and add them to the pan, along with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the oats are tender but still springy. Stir in the lentils.

Wash the spinach and place, still wet, in a deep skillet over high heat, covering tightly with a lid. Let the leaves steam for a few minutes, then flip with kitchen tongs and continue steaming for a minute or two until tender. Drain and squeeze a little in your hand to remove most of the water, then chop coarsely.

Add the spinach to the soup, then reduce the heat to low. Mix the yogurt with the juice of half a lemon. Stir into the soup and let the yogurt warm, making sure the soup doesn't boil (if it boils, your soup will thicken). Add a sprinkle of turmeric, paprika and chopped mint, check for seasoning, add remaining lime juice if desired. Then spoon into a warm bowl.

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