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Bulgarian Monastery Soup

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85 g/3 oz round rice ('pudding' or risotto)
4 tablespoons corn oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 small green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 fat leek, trimmed and finely sliced (with its green parts)
1 small lettuce, shredded
A sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
1.2 litres/2 pints water
Salt and pepper

To finish

150 ml/ pint thick creamy yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill pickled cucumbers


Serves: 4


1. Pick over the rice and remove any small stones. Warm the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic, green pepper and chilli. Let the vegetables cook gently until soft but not browned. Stir the rice into the fragrant oil. When the grains turn opaque, add the sliced leek, the lettuce and the herbs, pour in the water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down, cover loosely and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes, until the rice is tender.

2. To finish, remove the soup from the heat. Whisk the yogurt and egg with a ladleful of the hot soup, and stir it back into the soup. Let it stand for a minute to allow the egg to set a little. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

3. Serve in hot soup plates, sprinkled with parsley and dill. Accompany with pickled cucumbers and dark bread - black rye bread with caraway seeds for ethnic correctness.

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