Sweet Potato Soup with Feta and Zaatar Oil

By • November 10, 2009 26 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a really simple soup to make, and gently flavored with hints of the Middle East, where I was working until just recently. Zaatar is a spice blend that combines dried hyssop, thyme, and sesame seeds and can be found at Middle Eastern grocers or other specialty stores. I had originally conceived of this as a butternut squash soup, but we had an overload of sweet potatoes in the house and so the recipe was amended, luckily to delicious results. Perfect for an autumnal evening.lauren

Food52 Review: One of the things we like best about this recipe is how lauren takes a few simple ingredients, adds a couple of exotic touches and manages to produce a dish that's both comforting and thrilling at the same time. The soup itself is silky and hearty, the sweetness of the potatoes tempered by the aromatics; a finishing swirl of zaatar oil (zaatar is a Mediterranean seasoning typically containing sesame seeds, thyme, oregano and salt) and a sprinkling of crumbled feta elevate the soup to sophistication. One cooking note: our soup was a bit thick after we pureed it, but a bit of water brought it to just the right consistency. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons zaatar (see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 leek, white part only, rinsed thoroughly and diced
  • 5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  1. In a small pot, combine ¼ cup olive oil and the zaatar. Cook over medium heat until hot, but take care not to burn the zaatar. Set aside for at least one hour to cool and infuse.
  2. In a large pot, heat the butter and remaining olive oil over medium high heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, carrot, and leek, and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the sweet potato cubes and sauté for another minute. Add the water, stock, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Once the soup begins to boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Check to make sure the sweet potatoes are completely soft. If not, continue cooking until they are.
  3. Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup using a regular or immersion blender. Check the seasoning and add the salt (you may need more or less depending on what type of stock you used). Ladle out the soup into individual bowls. Crumble some feta into each bowl, and drizzle each bowl with some of the zaatar oil.

More Great Recipes: Sweet Potatoes|Potatoes|Appetizers|Entrees|Hors d'oeuvres

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Comments (26) Questions (0)


about 1 year ago Hannah

This is great - like, really great. I've made it a few times now, and I make some mall changes:
1. I add 2 cloves of garlic. I'm incorrigible like that - I'll add garlic to most things.
2. I'm huuuuuuge on spices, so I added some. I understand that not everyone is, but for those who are looking to add a little bit to the flavour profile (not that it needs it), The spices I use (in order of most to least) are: garam masala, ground coriander, cumin, caraway and smoked paprika
DELICIOUS. Thank you for the soup.


over 1 year ago Richard

I enjoyed this soup a lot. Didn't have a leek at hand so I added extra onion and really caramelized it for all the flavor it could offer.


over 1 year ago Jojo

Excellent recipe. I used 5 cups of water rather than 6 to achieve a thick consistency, but not too thick.


over 1 year ago cookinalong

Za'atar oil is not listed as an ingredient. How much is needed and where can it be bought? Same source as za'atar?


over 1 year ago Jojo

She means that you infuse 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 tablespoons of za'atar and let sit for an hour, then you have za'atar oil!


almost 2 years ago Julie Basile

I love this site! Since this soup sounded fabulous I ran out and bought everything and made it. Much to my surprise, it was simply like too thick sweet potatoes that were pureed. Being an experienced chef, I tried doctoring this up and ended up throwing the entire pot away. Sad.


over 2 years ago vivavo

This soup is to die for. I ate it for a week straight for lunch. The za'atar oil is my new favorite thing to put on everything. Thanks for the recipe!


over 2 years ago Marissa Cepero Vargas

Yummy !!!!


over 2 years ago JuneRoca

Aside from the zaatar and the feta cheese, there's the yellow thingy on top of the soup that was not mentioned. is that grated lemon zest?


over 2 years ago joannajw

I think that's the zaatar oil mixture with bits of feta that sank beneath the soup so it looks like yellow chunks.


over 2 years ago smwest

This is SO good...I made it with butternut squash. I went to a Mediterranean store and bought sumac and then made my own zaatar. I may burst ;)


almost 3 years ago I Am The Eggman

me thinks that if you rave about this ingredient- zaatar- then you should mention its whereabouts! And the recipe includes 2 tablespoonfuls of zaatar yet there is discussion about zaatar oil? Are these two items meant to be the same thing?


about 2 years ago thomas cappiello

totally agree, there is no such thing as a Middle East grocery story where I live. None. Nada.


over 1 year ago SpicyCook

You can order it online from Penzey's Spices.


almost 3 years ago samnotlinda

This is delicious. The only change I made was to leave a few sweet potato chunks in the soup. Next time I will make twice as much zaatar oil (yuuumm).


almost 3 years ago chantalemarie

Za'atar, oil where have you been my whole life?
I love Za'atar anyway, but this is a revelation. Made a leek and porcini ragu this week an d add a bit to the top, really great. Then had a ho-hum cauliflower soup, but zing-- za'atar oil, and it's a new soup. Can't wait to try it with this gorgeous Kuri squash that has this soup's name written all over it. Thanks for the inspiration!


almost 3 years ago Shalala

This is the epitome of a dish that is super simple and straightforward to make, but exudes such thought and elegance that it seems like it should have taken hours to make. My husband is not a fan of feta, and he absolutely loved it in this dish. It is a really smart, crowd-pleasing dish and we loved it.


almost 3 years ago LDeuben

So, so good! This one has become a regular at our table. The potato soup base recipe is good on it's own but then when you add the zaatar and feta - it is totally over the top delicious!


almost 5 years ago epicureanodyssey

Wow, this is right down my alley!! It's going to my women's poker group tomorrow night.


almost 5 years ago Mediterraneanista

Your soup is delicious, and I especially like the zaatar and the feta additions. My husband made it for lunch the other day, a nice surprise that I tell about here:

Thank you!


almost 6 years ago zora

Looks good! And good to hear confirmation of hyssop... I got to this (vs. the too-vague "thyme" translation) through tasting a bunch of herbs, but haven't seen anyone else say hyssop in English.


almost 6 years ago smarthausfrau

husband is away in the country with the boys (building fires or benches, whatever they do) and I have the day free to try this amazing looking soup.


almost 6 years ago lauren

Glad to hear you like it!

Teri - I don't have an exact weight amount and I don't have any sweet potatoes in the house at the moment, but I used 5 skinny/smaller ones. I'd say they were probably about or a little more than 2 lbs / 1 kilo worth, but can't be completely sure!


almost 6 years ago Jennifer Ann

It is really nice to find a sweet potato soup recipe in the butternut squash forrest. I will definitely try this one.