This week is Pot Luck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and just as I was sitting at the table this morning pondering which one of our wonderful chefs I would choose to cook with, my copy of Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros leapt out at me from the bookshelf - figuratively, you understand ... thus far, my cookbooks have not taken to actually jumping around the kitchen, which, although potentially interesting, is probably a good thing.
Anyhow, this is a book which I acquired towards the end of our time spent cooking with Tessa, and given how much I like this book I'm a little surprised that I haven't dipped into it more often. Maybe it's because I always think of Greek food as being quintessentially summer food. Still, with summer now just around the corner, there's a good chance this book will spend a little less time on the bookshelf and a bit more time out on the kitchen bench over the next few months.
Thumbing through the book, I came across this recipe for Tahini Soup. I almost passed it by. It seemed too simple, too unimpressive, and I wasn't even sure that I would like it. Don't get me wrong, I love tahini, but I do find that in large doses it can be a little overwhelming. I was certainly prepared not to be wowed by this dish, but it seemed quick and easy and just what I needed for a quick, late-lunch fix today.
This soup truly is the work of moments - in the time it takes to boil pasta it's done - seriously. Despite the pasta, it is not a heavy or stodgy soup - instead it has lightness, and warmth, and is deliciously comforting. My first impression when I tasted for seasoning before serving it was "pleasant enough, nice nutty flavour, but somewhat ordinary". But, don't be fooled ... add the topping of toasted sesame seeds, smoky paprika, warming cayenne, and zesty lemon, along with a drizzle of the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can lay your hands on, and all of a sudden you have wow factor in spades.
In her introduction to the recipe, Tessa says, "This is a very simple soup that can be made in minutes. Traditionally it's from the Cycladic Islands and is eaten in the week leading up to Easter, or on Good Friday when simple meat-free foods are eaten." I say, eat this delicious soup any time you want maximum flavour for minimum effort. I will definitely be making this again, in fact I think this just became my "go-to" soup.
Adapted from recipe by Tessa Kiros from
Makes 2 generous servings
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
4 cups boiling water
1 cup pasta shapes (I used casareccia)
juice of 1-1/2 lemons
1/2 cup tahini
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
grated zest of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Bring water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. Salt the water, but not quite as generously as you normally might for boiling pasta, as this water will form the basis of your soup - about 1 heaped teaspoon should do it. Add pasta to the boiling salted water Cook according to packet instructions until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over moderate heat, and toast the sesame seeds in the dry pan until golden. Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, and lemon zest. Stir until everything is combined, and remove immediately from the heat. Remove to a small bowl so that the seeds don't continue cooking.
In another small bowl combine the lemon juice and tahini, add a ladleful of the boiling pasta water, and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
As soon as the pasta is cooked, add the lemon-tahini mixture to the pan and continue to stir over heat for a couple of minutes, until the tahini mixture has been fully combined. Taste and add a little more salt if necessary.
Ladle into serving bowls, sprinkle over some of the sesame and paprika mixture, add a little freshly ground black pepper, and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
If you would like to get to know Tessa a little better, check out Food From Many Greek Kitchens and many of Tessa's other great titles available from Amazon or Fishpond NZ.
Do go and see what else my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs have cooked up for this week's Pot Luck ...
I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted by my good friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, at Cook Your Books, hosted by the lovely Joyce at Kitchen Flavours, and at Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
Sue, I have no Tessa Kiros books. If you had to have only one of her books, which would it be? And why? :-)ReplyDelete
Kaye, I have two Tessa Kiros books - the one mentioned in this post, and Falling Cloudberries. If I could only keep one of them, it would probably be Falling Cludberries. This has actually been one of the most "cooked from" books in my entire collection. The recipes are mostly simple, home-cooked style food and all very accessible. They are the recipes from Tessa's family and friends, and document the culinary influences they have all had on her life. From Finnish and Greek-Cypriot grandparents, to growing up in South Africa, to marrying an Italian husband - recipes from all these cultures are featured in the book, interwoven with delightful stories and gorgeous photos (of both the food as well as family). This seems to me to be a book which really tells Tessa's story and it has become like a good friend in the kitchen. A book I often dip into when I'm looking for a quick, effortless, family meal. If I were to buy another Tessa book it would probably be "Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book" - I have borrowed this one from the library and it was lovely.Delete
That bowl of soup looks very inviting and the recipe, very easy. I love the use of the pasta cooking water for the soup base, something you don't see often.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Zosia. I loved that this recipe used the pasta cooking water too. I'd never come across that before, and it was one of the things that really appealed to me when I decided to make it.Delete
This is an interesting soup. I never would have thought of using tahini in a soup. Sometimes simple ingredients give tons of flavours! This looks and sounds delicious!
I have one book of Tessa which I bought during the last month of cooking with Tessa, and have not used it that often. It has however comes a step closer to being used! I have been browsing it for the last few days! Haha! Hopefully I'll make something from the pages of the many stickers sticking out!
Thank you for linking with CYB!Delete
Hope you have a great weekend!
Thanks, Joyce. Yes, it really is an interesting soup. Completely different to anything I've ever made before, and unexpectedly delicious.Delete
Hope you get your Tessa book out a little more often and enjoy her food - her books are wonderful.
Food From Many Greek Kitchens is one of my most favorite cookbooks. We have liked just about everything I've made from it. Funny enough, this tahini soup is one that didn't make the cut...b/c I misread the recipe and mismeasured the tahini, using way too much. I need to revisit the recipe using the correct measurements--I think we would like it.ReplyDelete
Michelle, I think it's definitely worth revisiting and trying the right amount of tahini. You could even use a little bit less than the amount asked for if you normally find the flavour of tahini a bit overwhelming - you definitely wouldn't need any more than what is asked for!Delete
Oh, I used much more than called for. Lesson learned. When the measurements have worn off of your measuring cups, it's time to get new ones.Delete
Thanks for linking this week, Sue!
It is remarkably easy, I'll have a go at this one thanks.ReplyDelete
Sure is, Alli - just about one of the easiest things I've ever made I think. Hope you enjoy it - it's perfect for busy people :-)Delete
Looks delicious! I haven't heard of this cookbook author, so thanks for the recommendations and the recipe!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Laurie. Tessa Kiros is definitely a cookbook author you should check out. She has lots of absolutely gorgeous books, and of course wonderful food.Delete
Thanks for visiting - I hope you'll stop by again.
I'm pretty sure I own this cookbook (I need to search for it). I too would have passed that soup up for the very reason you mentioned. I like tahini -- in hummus and in other foods but wouldn't have thought it would make a good soup. Now I can't wait to give this a try. So easy and I always have the ingredients in the house.ReplyDelete
Beth, I'm so pleased I decided to give this one a try - like you, I always have these ingredients in the house, and now I know I can make a batch of soup whenever I'm stuck for a 10 minute meal idea. Hope you find the book - it's a good one.Delete
Thanks for visiting - hope you'll stop by again.
I'm glad you mentioned that tahini overwhelms you in large doses -- I feel the same way, but if it worked for you, it would probably be worth a try. I love Greek food, but don't own a Greek cookbook. I think I will check this one out. We're in full summer here in Pennsylvania, so the timing would be perfect!ReplyDelete
Col, I was definitely surprised by this one, and it's the toppings that really make it. I love Greek food too, and this book is definitely a good one - all the recipes are very simple and very accessible, and the photos are gorgeous. I definitely recommmend you grab a copy now and make the most of what remains of your summer :-)Delete
Thanks for visiting - I do hope you'll stop by again.
Absolutely perfect timing. I just saw a jar of tahini that's been languishing since I made a big batch of hummus. This is just what I needed!ReplyDelete
Pam, this is a perfect use for a bit of leftover tahini - your tahini will never languish again :-)Delete
Oh my, this sounds delicious! I just discovered your beautiful blog, and look forward to exploring it. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much and thanks a lot for visiting - I do hope you'll stop by again.Delete
Ahh, I made this soup when we cooked with Tessa and remember it well. The topping was my favorite part. It really does elevate it from simple to special. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays this week too--it was a pleasure to put it in the round up! ;-)ReplyDelete
I've never even dreamed of tahini soup, but now I'm going to! What a great idea!ReplyDelete
I love Tessa Kiros' books, but I have to admit I've never made anything from them (and I have three - you think I would have learned by now!) You've made this sound amazing - I love tahini and I love that it is so quick!ReplyDelete
Hope you weren't too shaken up by the quake - we were just home and it was a bit of a weird welcome back. Perhaps it was the universe telling me not to take Wellington for granted!
Tahini is the best part of hummus in my opinion...so I'm definitely intrigued by this! And maybe when I inform the.boy it's greek, it will convince him to give it a fair shot. :)ReplyDelete
Oh Sue, I am so enjoying your blog:)ReplyDelete
I have actually tossed some leftover tahini into soup a couple of times and I have never regretted it. I can just imagine how good it must be with a bowl all of its own.
Thank you so much for sharing...
Such an interesting soup! I'm game! I have been limiting my glutens of late, but this soup would make my list of one serving a day options. looks like one could make this in really small batch too ... what about adding some chopped herb to the final soup too? Cilantro? Maybe a mint/parsley blend?ReplyDelete