Spinach & Cilantro Soup With Tahini & Lemon From Samin Nosrat

July 28, 2020
13 Ratings
Photo by Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 2 quarts, but halves well
Author Notes

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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What You'll Need
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Spinach & Cilantro Soup With Tahini & Lemon From Samin Nosrat
  • For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated or pounded to a smooth paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • For the soup:
  • 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 12 ounces baby spinach (about 12 packed cups)
  • 4 cups roughly chopped cilantro (from 2 large bunches)
  • 1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lesley DButterfly Weatherford
    Lesley DButterfly Weatherford
  • KJR
  • Kelly
  • Alma Delucchi
    Alma Delucchi
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    Linda Shum Ebflute
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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

33 Reviews

Anonymous March 2, 2023
I am wondering how to take this from a soup that sounds like a “starter” soup, or a first course, adding something to making it a “whole meal,” or something that would actually satisfy the appetite for more than an hour? Or do you have some recommendations for what you would serve it with? Or does it seem satisfying enough to make it a “meal”?
Marwa H. March 24, 2022
Super unique flavour, so green. I didn't have chicken stock, so I ended up using chicken broth and it still turned out delicious. I have a strong feeling the chicken stock would've made for a much creamier soup, but again the broth was still absolutely delicious!
Lesley D. March 22, 2021
What do you think I could instead of tahini. I am deathly allergic to sesame, and this sounds delicious.
Nlamp October 24, 2022
I'm thinking almond butter might work.
KJR October 25, 2020
My 3yo son said “yowza” after his first bite (mixed it with rice for him). Best endorsement of a recipe I’ve heard! Used 1/2 spinach and 1/2 kale (both frozen) and added leftover 1/2c cooked pinto beans prior to blending. That sauce is delightful!
MBV August 26, 2020
The soup was delicious as is the Tahini sauce you add to it. I think it's a nicer soup to have during the summer as it's on the lighter side. I love that you can substitute the spinach for any kind of green vegetables you have in the fridge. My one suggestion is to watch the amount of salt that's being added to the soup. If you're using pre-made stock, it may already contain a lot of sodium in it. I added a little over half of the salt and still felt like it was a bit on the salty side. But, that's also just me :) I added in some water at the end to try and cut down on the salty flavor and it worked out. I may just try using half stock and half water the next time I try this recipe.
brokensaucer August 14, 2020
This is now one of my favorite soups of all time. It's easy to change up the greens and it still tastes incredible. I have made it with chard, radish greens, kale, cilantro, and dill. It only takes 20 minutes, and it's so good! Sometimes I throw in some canned chickpeas just to make a more substantial lunch. It would also be awesome spooned over rice. Make it!
CShores August 6, 2020
I've just gulped down this dreamy good soup. I tried it using water instead of stock to test its flavors with a simple base. Excellent! And by adding about a teaspoon of water to the sauce it floated on the top! Thank you for sharing this recipe.
flycat August 3, 2020
Wow! I just made this with what I had on hand; fresh spinach, frozen green peas, cilantro and parsley. The sauce is perfect. Will make this again and again. Delicious.
Kelly August 2, 2020
Hi - I just wanted to confirm that there are no peas in this dish. The introduction mentions it, and peas are referenced in the comments section with respect to mint, but I don’t see peas in the recipe.
flycat August 3, 2020
Take a moment to watch the video. It gives lots of good tips and substitutions.
Selenium August 13, 2020
The podcast Home Cooking simplified this recipe to just peas, tahini, and lemon with optional mint. This is the full, original recipe. The point they are trying to make is that you can use almost any green vegetable with any green herb here, such as broccoli with basil. The host here is *not* the chef who created the dish.
Kelly August 17, 2020
Yes, I saw the video and I am aware that the presenter is not the chef. I had the impression that there was a recipe with spinach and peas, and was hoping for a link, but didn’t find one. I want to make this for a client, but didn’t want to experiment on them!
ellen September 10, 2020
I was also curious about her pea version & it is delicious! I just made 1/2 a batch & instead of spinach & cilantro I subbed a 10 oz. bag of frozen peas & a large bunch of fresh mint leaves- probably about 1 cup. Besides those swaps I followed the recipe exactly for the other ingredients & directions. I made the spinach & cilantro version last week & I like the peas & mint better & I think it keeps the green color better, as well.
Alma D. August 1, 2020
Love you and best wishes in California! Who knows you may already be here in California where I moved in 1989! Best wishes!👏🏾👏🏾
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Thanks so much, Alma!
vrinda August 1, 2020
brilliant recipe.........................Soooooooooooooooooooo delicious, practical and easy !
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
I agree!
kathryn J. July 31, 2020
This is lovely soup, perfect for summer. I could scarcely believe the amount of cilantro wouldn't overwhelm, but it doesn't at all. My tahini sauce was thick enough to drizzle as well! When I make it again, I will probably omit half the salt though. With the lemon juice, I just don't think it needs so much.
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
So glad you liked it!
Christine B. July 31, 2020
Lots of suggestions for a lovely green soup. Will definitely be experimenting. All the best to you and your family on your move. Looking forward to more videos from your new home.
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Thank you, Christine!
Linda S. July 30, 2020
My sauce sank to the bottom, how do you get it to swirl on top? I added mushrooms to make the soup thicker but the sauce wouldn't float on top. The flavors were perfect!! Easy to make and delicious.
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Another commenter suggested thickening with potato, if you're looking for a thicker soup anyway. But I just accepted that it was absolutely delicious, no matter how the drizzle behaved.
Selenium August 13, 2020
You need to add a bit of water to make the drizzle thinner.
jamie July 29, 2020
any suggestions for those of us who can't stand cilantro? Because the rest of this sounds fantastic.
Elif A. July 29, 2020
jamie July 29, 2020
Oh, I do love parsley.
witloof July 29, 2020
Mint goes beautifully with both peas and spinach, so you could play with that as well.
jamie July 29, 2020
oh, growing some right now. Thanks for the idea!!
Kristen M. August 2, 2020
Samin suggested any soft herb in her podcast Home Cooking—dill, parsley, basil, etc.
Selenium August 13, 2020
You can use any combination of green vegetable and herb, such as peas & mint, asparagus & dill, broccoli & thyme.
Urvi January 19, 2022
Parsley? Tarragon? Or thyme? Or skip a fresh thyme ?