Genius Recipes

Samin Nosrat's Instant Green Soup With a Power Ingredient

How the 'Salt Fat Acid Heat' author and star creates tons of flavor—fast—in this week’s Genius Recipe.

July 29, 2020

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.


This soup, which comes from our great Salt Fat Acid Heat teacher Samin Nosrat, could not be more satisfying, just as it's written. It comes together in moments, yet makes an astonishingly green soup that sings and dances and hula-hoops with flavor.

But it first grabbed me in an even more pared-down, quarantine-friendly form, as Samin talked about it in the first episode of Home Cooking, her podcast with host, producer, and pun enthusiast Hrishikesh Hirway.

Hula-hooping. Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.

Samin and Hrishikesh launched Home Cooking—which started as a four-episode miniseries and recently (thank goodness) continued with four more—to help all of us make sense of suddenly cooking a lot more, with fewer ingredients around. They’ve been so effective in their mission that I can listen to each episode repeatedly, plucking new dinner ideas out each time.

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Top Comment:
“I was thinking by adding potato flakes or a boiled potato, the soup would become a bit thicker, still remain vegan (I think) and probably would allow the tahini sauce to sit on top of the soup rather than sinking. (As an aside, isn't your daughter walking or about to be? Along with walking comes climbing. You might want to move all those knives to the inside of your cabinet doors. If you plan it right, the magnetic holder can be placed on the doors between the shelves so the doors can still close. Obviously, you can just tell me to bugger off!)”
— Pat
Comment

So when, in the burbling fountain of meal inspiration that was the first episode, Samin said we could make a vibrant green soup out of nothing more than stock, frozen peas, tahini, and lemon, plus fresh herbs if we wanted, I took my first note. I had all of those things! Why hadn’t I thought to put them together?

The soup was based on a recipe Samin first wrote about for the EAT column she contributes to at The New York Times Magazine. In another moment of scarcity—a restorative cleanse Samin embarked on in the desert after two years of travel and events for her many-award-winning book and TV show—she found comfort not despite but because of the limitations she was facing.

Fresh green things (that could just as well be frozen). Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.

“The rules of the cleanse turned everything I’d learned about classical cooking upside down,” Samin wrote. “Without potatoes, flour, other starches, or dairy to lean on, I had to look elsewhere to thicken and enrich the soup.”

The answer she found was in tahini—the roasted sesame paste that’s a staple in Middle Eastern cooking, used to add creamy, smoky oomph to everything from hummus to cookies. It’s also conveniently vegan and, in Samin’s case, cleanse-approved.

The savory richness that tahini adds is remarkable—especially in a recipe as simple as this, in which fistfuls of green things are just-melted into hot stock and blended till neon. Consider stirring in a few spoonfuls anytime your soup or stew is tasting flat.

But if you want to take it one step further, Samin drizzles in more tahini at the end—as a sauce spiked with lemon, garlic, cumin, and chile flakes. This move is just as pantry-friendly and swift, and takes the soup from very good to how did I not know soup could taste like this?

Or, as Samin put it, “It might have been created to adhere to an elimination diet, but abundance was all I tasted.”

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]—thank you to Samin and Hrishikesh's Home Cooking podcast for this one!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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Comment
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."

35 Comments

Author Comment
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Thank you all for the well wishes in our move! I hope you love this soup as much as I did.
 
FrugalCat July 30, 2020
I loved making this and then eating it while watching Samin's Netflix show. I did put sour cream on top, and I used a mix of cilantro and parsley.
 
Melanie M. July 30, 2020
Anyone have any thoughts on substituting kale for the spinach? I have so so much in my garden-Red Russian, Winterbor and Nero.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Go for it! Just make sure they're tender before blending, and you might want to throw the chopped stems in first, since they'll take longer.
 
Ruth H. July 29, 2020
That soup looks delicious! Have a safe trip and godspeed to you and your family in California!
 
Janet S. July 29, 2020
Good luck with your move! I enjoy watching all of the genius recipes, you make it all very accessible.
 
cheriboberi July 29, 2020
How do you think this would work with basil instead of cilantro?
 
cheriboberi July 29, 2020
I guess I should watch the video! 😀
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Sounds delicious! Samin suggested any soft herb like dill, parsley, or basil.
 
Pat July 29, 2020
I was thinking by adding potato flakes or a boiled potato, the soup would become a bit thicker, still remain vegan (I think) and probably would allow the tahini sauce to sit on top of the soup rather than sinking.
(As an aside, isn't your daughter walking or about to be? Along with walking comes climbing. You might want to move all those knives to the inside of your cabinet doors. If you plan it right, the magnetic holder can be placed on the doors between the shelves so the doors can still close. Obviously, you can just tell me to bugger off!)
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Thanks for the tip—we'll watch for her being able to scale the cabinets in our new kitchen, wherever it is. (Also, as new parents, we circle her like hawks.)
 
Pamela_in_Tokyo July 29, 2020
I am definitely making this as I always love a green soup!! Do watch the video as Kristen gives a lot of tips and different version advice, like you can use any green vegetable or green peas that you like. Frozen veggies will work as well. Also you can use any herb, parsley, mint, cilantro. And you don’t need chicken stock either, vegetable stock or just plain water.
 
Jenn R. July 29, 2020
Can this be made with parsley instead? Not a fan of cilantro.
 
Pamela_in_Tokyo July 29, 2020
In the video, she said you could use any herb. Also, any green veg can be used as well, not just spinach. And any stock too, chicken stock, vegetable stock or even no stock, just water.....
 
Paule D. July 31, 2020
I have used a bunch of fresh watercress to my green soups, both cold and hot. Simply add a bunch of the cress to the top of the soup and let it cook for 5 minutes. Then blend, immersion etc. I use yogurt to my soups as a quick
Substitute for the tahini topping in this recipe. Non appetit!
 
Paule D. July 31, 2020
Apologies for typos in my reply. Can’t find the edit button on new cell phone? Lol
 
Bruce H. July 29, 2020
I enjoy watching your videos and intend to make this soup. When you dragged your chef's knife across the cutting board, the noise made me shutter. I often flip the knife 180 degrees to use the factory flat edge. Quieter and saves the blade as well.
 
Nancy F. August 2, 2020
If you look more closely, you will notice (easier to see at the end of that shot) that she IS using the back of the knife to scrape herbs from board to pot.
 
Bruce H. August 2, 2020
You're right -- I wasn't watching closely enough.
Do you know how to delete or edit the comment ?
 
Lauren M. July 29, 2020
I haven't made the soup yet (I do have all the ingredients and I can't wait. I just wanted to tell you that I have that very same black and white "mushroom" bowl from my mom.
I love it.
 
Melanie R. July 29, 2020
My mom had the bowl and now I have passed it to my daughter so lots of generations have enjoyed it. It was definitely from the '60's and I'm pretty sure my mom bought it on 8th Street at the original Pottery Barn (we lived around the corner).
 
Lauren M. July 29, 2020
What would we do without those keepsakes from our mothers and our grandmothers!?

 
FS July 29, 2020
I make a light pea soup with frozen peas, chicken stock and chopped green onions. Nice additions such as a bit of garlic, ginger and red pepper won't hurt. This soup can be pureed but I don't bother.
 
caroberts77 July 29, 2020
I was afraid that you were about to say you were stopping the whole series, definitely something I look forward to each week. Glad to hear it's just a pause. Safe travels to you and your family!
 
dgk July 29, 2020
The write up talks about peas but the recipe uses spinach instead?
 
chbenard July 29, 2020
exactly what I was thinking! I want the pea soup recipe please!
 
Pamela_in_Tokyo July 29, 2020
In the video she says you can use any green vegetable and that includes green peas. And also you don’t have to use cilantro, you can use dill or parsley. And you don’t have to use chicken stock either, you can use vegetable stock or just water he says.
 
Alison H. July 29, 2020
This looks great, but am in the "loath cilantro" camp. Is there a good alternative herb to include to keep it vivacious?
 
Sheila G. July 29, 2020
I need no cilantro version as well. :) I was thinking maybe basil? IDK. Chefs: Please help us out :)
 
FS July 29, 2020
Mint may be what you're looking for. Parsley too, also a bit of chives. Lemon basil is lovely but hard to find but easy to grow.
 
Jenn R. July 29, 2020
Perhaps parsley.
 
Jenn R. July 29, 2020
I was thinking parsley
 
Dee A. July 29, 2020
For those who loathe cilantro as much as I do, maybe add just a bit of wilted pureed leafy green like chard (or maybe those peas?) to give it oomph. I HATE cilantro but grudgingly accept that it needs to be in chili verde and salsa. I use it sparingly when it must be used.
 
Paule D. July 31, 2020
Use watercress instead. Cook briefly
In stock 5 minutes,then proceed. I make green soup all
The time both hot or cold and the watercress is classic here’
 
campbell July 29, 2020
The soup looks and sounds delicious, thank you for sharing, I am definitely making this. And, good luck on your move! These bittersweet moves open up so much of your life to new people, places and things. Bon Voyage!