the moveable feasts

More importantly, the garnishes

with 21 comments

carrot soup with crisped chickpeas, tahini sauce, pita with za'atar

I haven’t really been feeling like meat lately. I’ve never been a vegetarian before and I highly doubt that I will ever become one, but it’s funny how I can go weeks without preparing meat in my home or even ordering it at restaurants. It’s probably even sillier how this has come about in the dead of winter, when all people can go on about are “rib-sticking,” hearty meals. You know, the ones with meat. Sure, there’s the cost and convenience part (vegetables and grains are very cheap and they aren’t going to poison you no matter how you cook them), but I think most of all it’s just my mood lately.

And yes, I think it has something to do with that winter mood I’ve gotten in the past week or two. I’ve been walking a lot lately, more and more each day just to listen to music or hear the news. (And, I have to say, I just got this little app on my phone that tracks how many steps I take each day and I have gotten very personally competitive with increasing the amount every day. I’m not ambitious or competitive in any means when it comes to grand-scheme-of-life things, but if it’s a tedious, absolutely useless thing that has no real implications on my life, I get pretty into it. Rationality has never been a strength of mine.) After I get home from walking a very long route from my school’s campus, I feel like cooking, but those heavy meals give me no appetite. So turn to soup.

I ended up on Smitten Kitchen’s carrot soup with crisped chickpeas, tahini, and crisped wedges of pita with za’atar. Simply because have you seen the ingredient list for that soup? It’s simple, really simple, and that really appealed to me at the time. But as Deb even admits in her post, the soup, good and nourishing though it is, is not of the most dynamic kind. That’s quite alright though, in part because I don’t think every meal can be a revolution, but more importantly because what goes on or with the soup more than makes up for it.

I scoop it up
as croutons

There’s the spiced, slightly-crunchy chickpeas, that get roasted in the oven with some olive oil, a hefty couple pinches of salt, and some spices. Deb calls for cumin; I used garham masala just because it includes cumin, is delicious, and I have way too much of it (I think it was a good call). I think the idea of using them in place of croutons is pretty genius—I love croutons or something crunchy to contrast smooth soups, and using chickpeas adds a dimension I probably would have never thought of. Then there’s the tahini drizzle, which is the basic, all-purpose sauce of tahini, lemon and a little bit of water. It’s awesome on this soup. I dolloped some full-fat yogurt on the first bowl of soup I had but thereafter quickly realized: tahini sauce > yogurt, at least on this soup. And! Let us not forget the wedges of pita, baked with olive oil and za’atar until crunchy. I used them to scoop up piles of the soup and chickpeas, but they can also be crumbled over the top to form a type of crouton. When it comes to the garnishes, it all goes and they’re all good.

I think these garnishes are a nice reminder that any meal can become special by the addition of a few thoughtful details. Because although I haven’t been into heavy meals, I have been into flavor. And obviously not like duck-fat flavor, but like tangy-sour-bitter-sweet-texture flavor. (Perhaps this is why I have been particularly inspired by Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem lately.)

the pita is the best part
carrot soup with crisped chickpeas, tahini sauce, pita with za'atar

To get the recipe for the carrot soup and all the garnishes, I’ll just direct you over to the original recipe. Deb does a really nice job of organizing the recipe, much better than I could, into making everything from start to finish in about 45 minutes to an hour. But! One thing I would urge you to do is really layer the olive oil and za’atar on the pitas. She calls for it sprinkled on the pitas, but the middle eastern restaurant I go to makes a paste of the oil and spice mixture, and spreads it on thick. I didn’t do that, but I definitely had a heavy hand with the za’atar. Do it; the spices taste great scooping up the soup.

One Year Ago: Challah

Written by Amy

February 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

21 Responses

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  1. I would pay so much to eat that right now. Please come live with me and cook for me :(

    also best blog post title you’ve had, kudos.


    February 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm

  2. Oh hell yes. I’ve bookmarked this soup, too. The garnishes totally win me over on this soup. I love carrot soup, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not filling. My appetite would just laugh at me if it weren’t for the garnishes [and a ton of pita].

    You crack me up with the personal competition. I do that kind of thing all the time.


    February 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    • Sometimes we just need a medium to get to the filling parts, don’t we? A ton of pita is always well advised.


      February 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm

  3. What a perfect soup! Thanks for pointing it out. And what’s the step-counting app? I’ve never heard of that, but it sounds fun. (I mean, I’ve heard of a pedometer, but not one that’s an app. To clarify.). :)


    February 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    • Haha, it’s called “Moves”? It counts the steps/miles/hours you walk per day, as well as how long the stretches of walking were. Very fun! Very addicting!


      February 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm

  4. I want to make this, but need to find za’atar! It all looks so healthy and flavorful. And less meat is so healthy too. Yum!


    February 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

  5. I didnt actually take notice when Deb posted the recipe for this soup, but now that I see it here I want to make it soon. I love a soup with lots of garnishes.
    Also, I need to go on more walks myself. I love how they make me feel and let me think.


    February 10, 2013 at 6:56 am

    • Yeah, I don’t know if I took too much notice when she first posted it either. I think it was more out of my desperation in finding a soup with simple ingredients that re-led it to me. And yes! Walking is so nice and peaceful.


      February 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

  6. I’m definitely with you as far as heavier meals go–I just haven’t been interested in them lately. I don’t know what it is. It’s definitely been cold around here. Maybe it has something to do with the restaurants in Chicago? This city’s cooks love their meat, and sometimes, it is just too much of a good thing. Anyway, cooking from Jerusalem has been a relief.

    I made this soup a couple of weeks ago and really liked it. For some reason, though, the chickpeas just didn’t work for me. A few crisped up nicely, but the rest kind of just got leathery.


    February 10, 2013 at 8:19 am

    • I definitely had to keep them in the oven longer than the 10-20 minutes called for, but that’s strange about them not crisping up. Maybe they were too close together (small roasting pan) so they steamed or something?

      Yeah I’m not sure what it is either that’s been making me crave this type of food. It is a relief though, that’s for sure.


      February 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

  7. Those spiced, toasted chickpeas sound so yummy – I’m going to have a go at them this week. This is just the kind of food I crave in cold weather – comforting, spiced and full of flavour.


    February 11, 2013 at 1:28 am

    • Same here! Let me know if you give it a go. :)


      February 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  8. Oh wow. Pretty sure I’d just want to eat all the garnishes and ignore the soup, but I like that she acknowledges that the soup itself isn’t the main attraction! Crispy chickpeas are a revelation, as soon as I discovered they could be like that I found it hard to eat them any other way.


    February 12, 2013 at 1:07 am

    • I like how she admits that, too. But I think the garnishes are worth making the soup for. ;)


      February 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  9. I think chickpeas are a wonder food, they take on so many different forms. I love the look of them piled up in this spicy broth. Your pita with the oil and zatar is a new idea for me, I can’t wait to try it.

    • Oh yes, do try it! I know you’d love it. Just the pita and za’atar by itself is actually my favorite way to eat za’atar. Simple, but very good.


      February 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

  10. I must have missed this soup on SK– you make it look incredibly delicious. In re: the Jerusalem cookbook– it’s spectacular. I’ve been cooking my way through it (basic hummus, herb pie, burnt eggplant, hot yogurt soup with barley) and there’s not a single miss. I’m up to my eyeballs in pomegranate seeds and za’atar! Thanks for the post. Lovely photos.

    Batya Stepelman

    February 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    • I’ve only gotten a chance to cook a few simple dishes from Jerusalem, but from what I can tell already, you’re definitely right in that everything is spot on. I must try that herb pie soon!


      February 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm

  11. I think I am in love with this soup and these garnishes. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired with my meals lately, but this recipe is looking extremely appealing to me. Thanks for sharing!

    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    February 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm

  12. Your photos are so awesome!!! Another great post…..

    Abbey Davies (@abbeyasaayi)

    February 15, 2013 at 9:59 am

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