Celebrity square meals: Elizabeth Kostova's 'tarator' (or Bulgarian summer soup)

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I met my husband in Bulgaria and married him 15 years ago. My book (the best-selling vampire novel, The Historian) is set in Bulgaria (and Hungary, Romania, France and Italy) and there's a lot of food in it. I love to cook and I've cooked a lot of Bulgarian food over the years. This very simple dish is a favourite. Bulgarians eat tarator every single day in summer. They think of it as salad although we'd call it a soup. You can make it as thick or thin as you like depending on how much water you add. It's very practical in summer because yogurt cools the body faster than water, but the water hydrates you. My husband likes it with five cloves of garlic. If I use fewer than four he complains.

Bulgarians eat everything with bread, and ideally this would be eaten with a vegetable and meat stew - even in summer- fresh bread and grape brandy and followed with a nice artery-clogging torta for dessert. For guests you just make even more food.

1 litre plain yogurt preferably with a live culture
1 litre ice-cold water
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 small handful mint, finely chopped
1 small handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 medium handful fresh dill, chopped
2tbsp good olive oil
At least 2 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
Salt & pepper

Stir everything together quite thoroughly. If eating immediately add ice to the water, if not, keep in the fridge until serving. You can garnish it with parsley or a mint leaf.

'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova is published by Little, Brown, £14.99

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