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.