You can make this vibrant, near-instant, green soup with ingredients you tend to have on hand—and come out with something intensely flavored that you’ve never tasted before. It's all thanks to the great Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat author and teacher Samin Nosrat, and a fateful cleanse she embarked on in the desert. “The rules of the cleanse turned everything I’d learned about classical cooking upside down,” Samin wrote for The New York Times Magazine. “Without potatoes, flour, other starches, or dairy to lean on, I had to look elsewhere to thicken and enrich the soup.” The answer: nutty, smoky tahini.
As Samin writes, “The simplicity of this soup’s technique belies its depth of flavor, which is both vivid and complex. The soup is made bright with lemon and fresh with cilantro, but the secret ingredient is tahini, which is layered into the soup to thicken it, and then drizzled generously on top in the form of a gently spiced sauce. The result is a soup that’s both vegetal and creamy, tangy and rich. You’ll find it so tasty that you’ll forget you're drinking your vegetables.”
A few tips: The pared-down, quarantine-friendly version Samin described on Home Cooking, her podcast with Hrishikesh Hirway, was simply chicken stock, frozen peas, tahini, and lemon (plus a fresh herb if you have it). Feel free to take this template and experiment with other fresh or frozen vegetables, and other fresh herbs like dill, parsley, and mint. And, as Samin recommends, "Because this soup is so simple, the quality of the stock really makes a difference, so use homemade or purchase some from a butcher. Avoid canned and boxed stocks if possible." The broth will be thin, drinkable, and shockingly satisfying.
Recipe adapted very slightly from The New York Times Magazine and Home Cooking podcast.
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- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Makes 2 quarts, but halves well
- For the sauce:
freshly squeezed lemon juice
large garlic clove, finely grated or pounded to a smooth paste
fine sea salt
red pepper flakes
- For the soup:
chicken stock, preferably homemade
baby spinach (about 12 packed cups)
roughly chopped cilantro (from 2 large bunches)
fine sea salt
freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
- First, make the sauce: With a whisk, combine the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and red-pepper flakes with 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, adding more water as needed to achieve a drizzle-able consistency.
- Next, make the soup: Add the stock to a Dutch oven or heavy pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the spinach, cilantro, tahini, and salt, and return to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the soup (or transfer to a standard blender and purée, taking care to leave the center of the lid open and covered with a towel as you blend). Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and lemon, if desired.
- Serve the soup immediately and drizzle with the tahini sauce. Cover and refrigerate the remaining soup and sauce for up to 1 week, or freeze the soup for up to 1 month.