Ariana Bundy’s cold cucumber soup

"This yoghurt and cucumber soup is an example of a perfectly balanced 'hot and cold' dish. 'Cold' yoghurt is mixed with 'hot' walnuts and raisins, with fresh herbs, " says celebrity chef Ariana Bundy. A fantastic meat-free summer starter.


1 large or 6 small semi peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
400g low-fat Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche
200g full-fat natural yoghurt
200g soured cream
50g raisins
4 tablespoons roasted and chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped mint
½ teaspoon dried and chopped mint
3 finely chopped tarragon sprigs
2 finely chopped spring onions
1 teaspoon sea salt
To decorate, 1 teaspoon dried rose petals


Mix all the ingredients except the rose petals together in a large bowl.  But if preparing in advance, add the cucumbers at the last minute so that they stay crunchy and don’t give out too much juice.  You can also slice the cucumber first, sprinkle with salt, leave for an hour in a colander, run under the tap to remove the excess salt, dry the slices and then dice them.  They’ll be extra crunchy and will not go limp the next day in case you have any soup left over.

Sprinkle the soup with rose petals and serve in individual bowls.  On a hot day, add a few ice cubes.

A note from Ariana Bundy:
Iranians eat a lot of cucumbers. They’re considered more of a fruit than a vegetable and eaten as such. The cucumbers in Iran are small, juicy and packed with flavour.  When you bite into one, the smell fills the whole room. At parties, they’re piled high, with some rock salt on the side for sprinkling.

Here I’ve used different types of yoghurts to mimic the texture and slightly sour taste of yoghurt made in the villages of Iran.  You can also use just natural full-fat or even fat-free yoghurt, mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice.  One of my best foodie friends Maryam Samily uses champagne grapes instead of raisins, which adds a whole new dimension to this dish.

Interested in Persian cuisine? Try Ariana’s traditional dessert, Ice in Heaven.

Extracted from Pomegranates & Roses by Ariana Bundy.

The chef was in town in 2012 for the Good Food & Wine Show. Read our interview with Ariana Bundy.

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