Matsoni, the miracle soup.

Matsoni, the miracle soup.

This Georgian soup is said to boost longevity and battle hangovers (@IshayGovender) for, Culture Cheese Mag, April 2018

Want to live to be over 100? In the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, a region with no shortage of centenarians, one rumored key to longevity is a thin, mildly tart fermented dairy product called matsoni. Well-known for its probiotic strains that boost gut health, aid in calcium absorption and increase immunity, the yogurt-like substance is often served in clay pots at breakfast. In Georgia, I became quite attached to matsoni as a snack on long road trips.

Matsoni is generally made from some combination of cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk. “Almost everyone who keeps cattle makes matsoni,” says Chef Ketevan Mindorashvili, who runs a restaurant at the Pheasant’s Tears Winery in Khakheti. In the countryside and in cities, familiar morning cries of “matsoniii, matsonii” can be heard as door-to-door sellers make their rounds. Ia Tagabari, co-founder of the food tour company Living Roots, explains that her matsoni seller Inga is the fifth generation in a line of matsoni sellers. “I remember her mother-in-law selling matsoni to my mother-in-law,” she says.

Mindorashvili makes her matsoni with buffalo milk, serving the slightly stringy yogurt with foraged wild herbs. She strains and dollops it over minced lamb-stuffed dolmas, and in soups that are said to be terrific hangover cures. Bread starters and khachapuri (cheese-stuffed breads) also get the matsoni treatment. “It can be used to soothe sunburn, too,” she adds, confirming that matsoni’s benefits extend beyond the plate.

Matsvnis Soup

This matsoni- or yogurt-based soup is warm, comforting and full of flavor.

By blending the eggs and matsoni upfront, you avoid curdling when the soup is heated. Serve alongside flatbread.

Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

1 teaspoon white long grain rice

2 cups (500 ml) matsoni or yogurt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock, plus extra to taste

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 to 3 sprigs dill, finely chopped

►Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and rice to pan and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until shallots soften and become translucent. (Do not let shallots brown.)

► Blend matsoni (or yogurt), egg, and stock in a blender or in a medium-sized bowl with a handheld blender until smooth. Mixture should be thin enough to pour; if it is too thick, add additional stock until desired consistency is reached.

►Add garlic to pan with shallots and rice, and stir well with a wooden spoon. Add matsoni mixture to pan and whisk constantly until simmering, 5 to 8 minutes. Lower heat if the soup starts to boil.

►Season with salt, pepper, and dill to taste, and serve immediately.