January may be National Soup Month, but every day in my household is its own national soup day of sorts, so whenever a new recipe gets on my radar, it quickly becomes an obsessive quest to gather the ingredients and take it for a test-drive.
This za'atar-oil-flecked beauty was no exception, so off I set to the store with hopes that my search for a packet of za'atar — a Middle Eastern spice blend comprising oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac — wouldn't be found futile. Thankfully, Spicely came to my rescue, no specialty store required; it even came in a conveniently smaller package to boot, a boon to those looking to waste less in the kitchen in 2013.
And to answer the burning question: yes, this soup was everything I wished for and more. Well-balanced, velvety smooth, and aesthetically appealing thanks to a swirl of za'atar oil, this tangerine-hued winner will be entering my soup rotation for months to come. I urge you to adopt it into your fold as well.
Keep reading for the recipe.
Adapted from Food52
Sweet Potato Soup With Za'atar Oil
While this soup is fantastic with a lone za'atar oil garnish, a sprinkling of feta cheese, a chiffonade of parsley or cilantro, or coarse toasted homemade breadcrumbs or croutons would all be welcome additions.
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons za'atar
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt
Sherry vinegar, to taste
- Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the za'atar in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling, then take it off of the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature and infuse with za'atar flavor while you proceed with making the soup.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat; add the thinly sliced carrots and leeks, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened and the vegetables have begin to brown.
- Add the sweet potato chunks and another pinch of salt, and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the water, stock, and bay leaf, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to keep the soup at a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
- Blend until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
- Season to taste with salt and sherry vinegar. Ladle into bowls, and drizzle with za'atar oil.