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I’m a sucker for a creamy soup that doesn’t contain cream or butter at all. This infatuation of mine started when I was forced to cut back on dairy products after discovering I was lactose intolerant, but it actually became a cause I’ll now discuss with anyone willing to listen. After perfecting the art of making soups without using dairy products, I decided that using them was actually a bit of a crutch. With the right combination of veggies and aromatics and the right tools, you can make a perfectly silky soup—without the added calories. Plus, flavors pop considerably more when they’re not overwhelmed by fat.
I like to use cauliflower in creamy soups because once pureed, cauliflower creates a lovely, velvety backbone to the dish. It also has a discreet flavor, so you can build on it using any and all veggies and aromatics you can dream of. In this recipe, I decided to use spinach for its nutritional contribution to the dish and also—let’s be honest here—for its gorgeous bright green color. The earthy flavor of spinach goes naturally well with za’atar, a Middle-Eastern spice mix that usually includes thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac—and za’atar could also be called a seasoning relative of tahini, a creamy sesame paste that adds body to the soup, both flavor- and texture-wise. See how all these aromatic friends come together to create one beautiful soup?
Za’atar oil takes all but two minutes to prepare, and it’s an amazing condiment on its own. Drizzle it over soups, eggs, pizza, or salads or simply dip some pillowy bread in it. I usually double or triple the recipe and keep a jar of it in the fridge for some last minute flavor boosting.
See how easily this soup comes together (and discover a few of my handy prep tips!) in this fun, short recipe video:
Now on to the recipe!
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
A dairy-free, velvety smooth soup that impresses with its bright green color, nutritional value, and aromatic flavors.
20 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
35 minTotal Time
To make the za’atar oil: Add the za’atar and extra-virgin olive oil to a small saucepan. Place over low heat and heat just until the oil is hot—this will take about a minute. Immediately remove from the heat. Stay close to the stove while you do this step to make sure you don’t burn the za’atar! Cover the saucepan and set aside to infuse while you make the soup. (You can also make the za’atar oil in advance, let cool to room temperature, store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use—or up to a week.)
To make the soup: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat until it shimmers. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Keep the heat low to make sure the shallots and garlic don’t brown.
While the shallots and garlic are cooking, roughly chop the cauliflower head, removing the tougher bottom of the stem but keeping the rest. Add to the saucepan, sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt and a grind of black pepper, then stir and cook for a minute. Add the chicken stock and the sprigs of thyme (no need to remove the leaves from the stems, they will fall away during cooking). Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender.
While the soup simmers, chop the spinach: gather a handful of leaves, roll it up into a tight bunch, then chop finely. Repeat for the rest of the spinach. This step is important because it will allow the spinach to cook very quickly and keep its bright color.
When the cauliflower is tender, turn the heat up to medium, then add the spinach to the saucepan. Stir to incorporate the spinach to the soup and leave it to simmer for 2 minutes—don’t leave it for any longer or the color of the spinach will turn dark and brownish.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully transfer half of the soup to the container of a blender, then add the tahini. Blend until the soup is silky smooth. Transfer to a large measuring cup, a large bowl, or a second saucepan. Blend the second half of the soup, then combine both batches of blended soups. Stir well to fully incorporate the flavors, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Keep the soup hot until ready to serve.
To serve: Divide between serving bowls. Top each serving with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a generous drizzle of za’atar oil, and a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin
This post was created in partnership with Vitamix. In September, 7 Canadian bloggers (including myself) have taken part in a Virtual Friendsgiving Celebration—that is, Thanksgiving enjoyed with friends, as many of us do nowadays. Discover mouthwatering recipes worthy of a gourmet potluck, and click here to enter the giveaway.
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