Tarhana Soup

Tarhana is a traditional Turkish soup. It is also the name for the dry pulse made from a fermented mixture of yogurt, flour, and vegetables that are used as a base for the soup.

I enjoyed Tarhana soup at a restaurant in Cappadocia, Turkey, with a fabulous view of that area’s unique landscape. It was referred to as a fermented yogurt soup, so I was intrigued and asked for it. It was one of the best soups I’ve ever had, so I had to research it when I returned.

Tarhana powder (the base) is prepared by mixing plain yogurt, flour, and grated vegetables like red pepper, tomato, and onion into a thick paste that is left to ferment for several days. The paste is then divided up, dried, and crumbled to make tarhana powder. I looks like bread crumbs.

You can purchase tarhana powder in most Turkish groceries and Middle Eastern markets. (And Amazon!) Many cooks, especially those in rural areas, prefer to make their own tarhana. This is usually done once a year during the summer when drying the pulse is easy. This all makes sense, of course, but I’m not in the mood to make this from scratch. Instead I purchased the dried mixture on Amazon. If you’re interested, the one-week or so process to make Tarhana from scratch is fascinating; here is a recipe from Spruce Eats.

Following is a recipe I’ve compiled from many different Tarhana soup recipes once you have the base – all about the same, and with similar ingredients; some utilize broth instead of water but that’s the biggest difference I noticed. Amounts vary slightly, so I have a feeling that the many variations are all acceptable!

Tarhana Soup

Soup:
5 tablespoons of Greek yogurt, plain
5 tablespoons of tarhana powder
5 cups water
Salt

Topping:
2 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper flakes (I used crushed Aleppo pepper)
Chopped mint, optional

Combine the yogurt and tarhana in a saucepan and whisk well together.

A 1 cup of tepid water and whisk.

Place the saucepan on low heat and continue stirring. Gradually add 4 cups of water that has been brought to a boil little by little to the mixture, whisking nonstop.

Stir constantly and cook until the soup thickens. Remove from the heat.

To serve, melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds, then combine the pepper flakes and pour over the soup.

Add the chopped mint if desired.

Here’s the exciting part. This soup has the same flavor profile as what I had in Turkey. You first taste the yogurt’s sour tang, followed by the sweet butter and the spicy Aleppo. Incredible.

What I don’t remember as distinctly the soup’s texture. This soup almost has a tapioca-like consistency, but I also saw recipes that had you put the mixture in a blender, so that could be a solution if you want a smoother, creamy soup. It’s a lovely soft porridge texture.

2022 will go down in my culinary discovery of fabulous and unique foods for two incredibly outstanding soups – Tarhana and Basque Garlic Soup. I hope you also get to experience both.

By Published On: June 22nd, 202335 Comments on Tarhana Soup

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

35 Comments

  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen June 22, 2023 at 6:27 AM - Reply

    I have never heard of this Mimi, and what a delightful discovery on your part. It always fascinates me how much there is to learn about other cuisines that are so commonplace there. Nice research.

    • Chef Mimi June 22, 2023 at 7:21 PM - Reply

      And that’s exactly why we travel! No too much to experience in Oklahoma!

  2. angiesrecipes June 22, 2023 at 12:35 PM - Reply

    We love Turkish food..must try this one for my husband.

    • Chef Mimi June 22, 2023 at 7:21 PM - Reply

      It’s so unique and delicious. Turkish food is incredible.

  3. Mary June 22, 2023 at 4:22 PM - Reply

    Having read about both the Tarhana Soup and the Basque Garlic Soup I am left wondering which one first. It’s soup eating time here now so these are timely. I think the Basque Garlic first as I have the ingredients for that while I locate the Tarhana.
    Thanks Mimi. :))

    • Chef Mimi June 22, 2023 at 7:21 PM - Reply

      I’m so excited for you! I hope you enjoy their uniqueness and deliciousness as much as I di8d!

  4. Charlie DeSando June 23, 2023 at 5:10 AM - Reply

    Quite adventurous to make this soup. It does look interesting

    • Chef Mimi June 23, 2023 at 7:19 PM - Reply

      Thanks! It was really fun to make – just no from scratch!

  5. David Scott Allen June 23, 2023 at 9:57 AM - Reply

    This process is fascinating — I know so little about Turkish cuisine, so thank you for this soup recipe. I think your choice of Aleppo pepper is perfect — great heat with so much flavor. As for the topping (you already know my question)… do you think it would work with minced or grated shallot? I love foods that look “normal” but really knocks your socks off! Thanks also for the Amazon hint.

    • Chef Mimi June 23, 2023 at 7:19 PM - Reply

      Oh yes! Garlic wasn’t really a strong component of the topping. It was all about the butter and Aleppo!

      • David Scott Allen June 24, 2023 at 12:25 PM

        Can’t wait to try it — glad the garlic was secondary!

  6. Ann Coleman June 23, 2023 at 5:34 PM - Reply

    I’ve never tried turkish soup, but it sounds interesting!

    • Chef Mimi June 23, 2023 at 7:17 PM - Reply

      It was so good! And really similar to what I had in Turkey!

  7. Frank Fariello June 26, 2023 at 7:33 AM - Reply

    I must say the thought of fermented yoghurt soup doesn’t fill me with desire, but if you say it’s one of the best soups you’ve tasted, then I should give it a chance. And I actually do love garlic soup so I may give this a go.

    • Chef Mimi June 26, 2023 at 7:57 AM - Reply

      Funny, cause it got me all excited! Lentil soup – I pretty much know what to expect… but fermented yogurt???!!!!! It’s really very unique and delicious if you ever have time to try it.

  8. Valentina June 26, 2023 at 11:03 AM - Reply

    Fascinating and really interesting! Never heard of this — or anything like it! I love trying new-to-me cooking techniques and ingredients. And I’m especially intrigued since you said it’s one of the best soups you’ve had. And Turkey . . . . one day! It’s on the list. :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi June 27, 2023 at 8:43 AM - Reply

      We’re about to visit Istanbul and I’m so excited to have Turkish food again!!! Hope you get a chance to make this.

  9. Ronit Penso June 26, 2023 at 12:25 PM - Reply

    How interesting, as I’ve had it in Greece, and always thought of it as a Greek dish. As much as I remember, the Greek version didn’t have vegetables in it.
    In any case, this version looks so tasty, and, as I adore yogurt in any form, I’ll look for the Turkish powder asap. :)

    • Chef Mimi June 27, 2023 at 8:42 AM - Reply

      Interesting! Well, there are always culinary overlaps between countries of course. It’s such a good soup.

  10. Debra June 26, 2023 at 7:45 PM - Reply

    What an unusual soup, Mimi. I’ve never heard of this but it intrigues me. I have access to the ingredients, so I’m sure I’ll look forward to giving it a try. It looks delicious and I’m curious. :-)

    • Chef Mimi June 27, 2023 at 8:41 AM - Reply

      Good! I hope you get a chance to make it. So unique and so delicious!

  11. Thao @ In Good Flavor June 26, 2023 at 7:58 PM - Reply

    Such an interesting soup! I’m a tapioca fan and like that it’s similar in consistency.

    • Chef Mimi June 27, 2023 at 8:40 AM - Reply

      Not quite as “gloppy” as tapioca, which I love as well, but great flavors!

  12. Sherry Mackay June 26, 2023 at 10:11 PM - Reply

    I have to agree with everyone – so interesting and completely new to me. I guess it tastes even better with the homemade base but as you say, life is too short … This is intriguing.

    • Chef Mimi June 27, 2023 at 8:39 AM - Reply

      It’s so good. You’ll really have to try it to believe me!

  13. Healthy World Cuisine June 27, 2023 at 10:17 AM - Reply

    Tarhana is a recipe that we have not tried. I like how it thickens up. It really is amazing the items that you can purchase on Amazon. No more hunting to find ornate ingredients but have them delivered directly to you.

    • Chef Mimi June 29, 2023 at 9:59 AM - Reply

      Especially when you live in a town with no delis! Amazon rocks!

  14. Gerlinde de Broekert June 27, 2023 at 11:34 PM - Reply

    This is fascinating Mimi. I have never heard of anything like it. If you say it was the best soup you ever had I have to try it.

    • Chef Mimi June 29, 2023 at 9:59 AM - Reply

      Oh good! It’s amazing!

  15. 2pots2cook June 28, 2023 at 3:43 AM - Reply

    Wow! It’s been quite a long time since I haven’t seen a dish that would make me look for ingredients immediately! Something new is always welcome! Especially coming from you ………

    • Chef Mimi June 29, 2023 at 9:58 AM - Reply

      Thank you! It was a really good dish.

  16. David @ Spiced June 30, 2023 at 6:20 AM - Reply

    Interesting! I’ve never heard of tarhana before, but of course I am intrigued. I want to check out that link about how it’s made – just to learn. This sounds like a fantastic combination of flavors, Mimi. And that restaurant has a stunning view!!

    • Chef Mimi July 1, 2023 at 1:09 AM - Reply

      It’s a crazy process! I think it wouldn’t work here because of the humidity, but it was nice to have the pre-made option. An amazing soup!

  17. Raymund July 5, 2023 at 9:59 PM - Reply

    The way you described it as a fermented yogurt soup got me really intrigued, and I can only imagine how delicious it must have been. Thank you for introducing me to this traditional Turkish dish!

    • Chef Mimi July 6, 2023 at 6:57 AM - Reply

      It doesn’t taste fermented, but there is a tang. I’m glad the word fermented didn’t put me off from trying it. So good.

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