Taking pride of place on many menus, soup and its thousand and one varieties warm the insides of people around the world. This gives soup a special place in the cuisine of every country, as a universal flavor that appeals to every palate.

From the day it first appeared, soup has always been a sought-after part of any dinner. Although its date of discovery is not known with certainty, it was an important turning point in the history of mankind in terms both of the development of cooking techniques and of the expansion of natural sources of nourishment. Soup can be defined as a key symbol of man's transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist.

Man experimented with a number of ways to heat and boil water until he finally came up with the fire-resistant cooking pot. Historians describe one of the most interesting of these as follows: first a trough lined with stone and bricks was filled with water and then stones that had been heated over a fire were thrown in to bring the water to a boil. A distant ancestor of soup was discovered by cooking vegetables, meat and legumes in this way, making it possible to cook foodstuffs such as grains and legumes in particular that could be stored up over the year.

But clearly this was no easy method of cooking. So, man carved out stones and, coming up with the technique of baking clay, eventually effected a culinary revolution by inventing the fireproof cooking pot. Soup may not be not as old as human history, but it is very interesting to examine that history in terms of the 'before and after' of the discovery of soup. In fact, as hinted above, the early forerunner of soup was discovered as a result of the human struggle for survival. But this essential discovery also afforded people the irresistible taste of cooked food for the first time, insofar as the flavors and proteins dissolved in the water and the minerals found in food cooked long and slow gave off appetizing aromas man had never before experienced to  such a degree. Consumed as a main dish in the past, soup today is offered instead as a first course. The purpose? To whet the appetite and facilitate the digestion of the food to be consumed later by stimulating the digestive system.

Soup is a tasty and appetizing dish. Filling, easy to digest and high in nutritional value, it appeals to people in every strata of society. Made in unique ways in every region of the world, soup even brought about the establishment of the restaurant industry.

In Turkish, soup is called 'çorba', from the Persian 'shorba' meaning 'boiling with salt'. 'Shor' means 'salty' and 'ba' means 'boiling' in a geographical belt stretching from Central Asia through the Middle East Europe (Transylvania) all the way to North Africa. On the European continent the word 'soup' comes from the Latin 'suppare', which means 'soaking'. The names for soup in almost all the European languages derive from this Latin root. In 18th century Europe in particular, soup was consumed in the evening as a light 'supper', as the light meal eaten at evening in Europe is indeed still known today. In the societies of the East meanwhile the word for soup derives from 'shorbagh'. The transformation of soup from a main dish to a first course parallels the advance of civilization, a process during which soup found its place on the tables of princes as well as paupers.

In the twentieth century, especially in the West, a tendency arose to add ingredients such as cream and even gold leaf to soup to elevate its culinary status. Influenced by the Ottoman technique of making 'sherbet', French chefs developed the technique of producing 'consommé' or clarified soup as a fitting adjunct to the new style of dining in fashion. The development of consommé is regarded as one of the most important coups in the history of French cuisine. The fact is however that thousands of varieties of soup have been produced in every country of the world, which only goes to show soup's irresistible appeal to all palates.

From its piping hot varieties to its cold versions, soup is made in many ways in Turkish cuisine, with meat, fish or chicken stock and even with milk, yoghurt or fruit juice. Soup is made all over Turkey, with wild vegetables, with legumes of every kind and with fish and other seafood. There are even special sauces made to go on top of, or compliment the taste of, soup, which is just another indication of how important the culture of soup is in Turkey.

Yoghurt soup

70 gr rice, rinsed
2 cups yoghurt
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp dried mint
4 egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
4 cups meat or chicken stock

Fill a pot with the stock and put on the fire. When it is about to boil, add the rinsed rice and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Beat the yoghurt, egg yolks and lemon juice together and add to the water-rice mixture. Continue mixing until it returns to a boil, then add the salt. Melt the butter in a skillet, add the dried mint and brown slightly. Pour half of it into the boiling soup. Drizzle the remaining half over the soup in the tureen. Serve piping hot.

Fish soup ottoman style

1 cup cracked wheat (as for Noah's Pudding)
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 tbsp dried mint
4 cups yoghurt
1 tbsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 bunch fresh mint
2 cups water

Soak the wheat and chickpeas overnight. Wash and place in a pot. Cover with water and let boil. Skim off the foam and cook till tender. When the wheat and mint are almost done, add the salt and dried mint and mix. When the water is absorbed, let cool. Beat the water with the yoghurt and mix in the chickpeas and wheat. Top with mint leaves, drizzle with olive oil and served chilled.

Cranberry tarhana soup
Ingredients (Cooking):
1 cup cranberry tarhana
2 tbsp butter
3 cups water or chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper

Ingredients (Preparation):
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 cups flour
2 cups pureed cranberries
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
* Mix the ingredients together well. Then break into small pieces. Cover with a thin cloth and let sit in a cool place and dry for about 10 days. When dried, grind to a powder.

Dissolve one cup of the dried tarhana in one cup of water in a pot, then strain. Fill a pot with three cups of water. When it starts to boil, add the dissolved dried tarhana slowly. Bring to a boil again and season with salt and pepper. Melt the 2 tbsp of butter in a skillet, add the Cayenne pepper and drizzle over the soup. Garlic may also be added to taste.

Fish soup ottoman style

1 kg sea bass (levrek)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped fine
1 tbsp salt
1/8 tsp saffron
2 sticks of cinnamon
100 ml vinegar
juice of 4 lemons
8 egg yolks
75 ml olive oil
4 cups of water
1 bay leaf

Heat the olive oil red hot in a pan and saute the onions until they begin to color. Add the water and vinegar and boil.

Divide the fish into four pieces and place in the boiling water. Add the bay leaf and stick cinnamon and let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. When the fish is done, remove from the cooking liquid and de-bone. Strain the cooking liquids through a piece of cheesecloth and return to the fire. Add the finely chopped parsley and mint and the saffron and salt. Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice and add slowly to the cooking mixture. Bring to a boil again, add the fish pieces and serve.