Sunday, November 20, 2016

Middle Eastern Spinach Soup with Bread & Spiced Compound Butter for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

I pulled down my copy of Mollie Katzen's Still Life Cafe with Menu Cookbook the other day and this Middle Eastern Spinach Soup caught my eye. It can be made with either potatoes or rice to thicken it and I was craving potatoes. The result is a flavorful soup that can be enjoyed hot or cold. 

To make it a meal, I served it with slices of French baguette and I made a quick compound butter, using the same spices that are in the soup.

Mollie says, “Yogurt binds everything together in this hearty, soothing, and beautifully green soup, and gives a lemony accent to the already unusual seasonings.
You can make this soup with either potatoes or rice. The potatoes may be cooked up to several days in advance. Store them in their cooking water in a closed container in the refrigerator. The rice may also be cooked a day or two in advance."

Optional Shortcut: If you are just too tired to face that big pile of raw spinach, substitute two 10-ounce packages frozen, chopped spinach. (Defrost before using.)

1 medium-sized potato or 3 cups cooked white rice (1 cup uncooked), see instructions below)
2 cups water (+ more water or broth--I used an additional 3 cups of veggie broth)
1 Tbsp butter 
2 large garlic clove -- minced
4 cups chopped onion
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
dash of cinnamon, or more, to taste
2 lbs fresh spinach, cleaned, stemmed and chopped
1 1/2 cups firm Greek yogurt at room temperature
black pepper and cayenne, to taste

Using Potatoes:
Peel and dice the potatoes, and cook potatoes in 2 to 4 cups water, covered, until tender. (This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.) Set aside, water included.

Melt the butter or heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot, and saute garlic and onion over medium heat along with the salt and spices until tender (8 to 10 minutes).

Add cooked potatoes with their water, and spinach. Cover and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point the soup can be left as is, or partially or completely pureed. Use a blender or steel blade attachment of a food processor. It's fun to experiment with various textures. A complete puree can be quite elegant.

Stir in yogurt. Add pepper and cayenne to taste. This soup is equally good served hot or cold. (I topped mine with a dollop of yogurt.)

Using Rice:
Put 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in 1 cup uncooked white rice. Lower heat to the gentlest possible simmer, cover, and cook about 20 minutes, or until all
the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Set aside.

Saute onions and garlic with spices exactly as in step 2 above. Add spinach and 2 cups additional water. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

As in the instructions above, all or some of the soup can be pureed. Stir in the rice and yogurt after pureeing. Heat very gently before serving. This variation actually tastes best neither hot nor cold, but somewhere in between.


Quick Spiced Compound Butter
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1/4 cups

1/4 cup good unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Mix the spices into the softened butter and place into a small ramekin. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Serve with bread.

Notes/Results: This soup is flavorful, rich and satisfying and it crosses seasons as it is good served hot, room temperature or cold. I did add extra liquid (homemade veggie broth) to my soup as I wanted it somewhat brothy, and I pureed about 1/3 of it--to thicken it while still having that brothy feel. The spiced compound butter, using the cumin, turmeric and cinnamon used in the soup was delicious spread on the bread and dunked into the soup. It made the perfect light meal for a slightly rainy Sunday, I would definitely make it again.

We have some good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some delicious dishes last week--let's have a look!

Shaheen from Allotment2Kitchen made this colorful Rainbow Carrots, Puy Lentil and Barley Salad and said, "There was a comforting chew from the barley, bite from the rainbow carrots that also made me feel rather cheery every time I tucked in to take a spoonful from my lunch box. The Puy lentils just added that soft salty poppets of flavour and a final flurry of spring onions aka scallions. I want more salads like this for winter."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor and Novel Meals shared Pea, Potato and Bean Soup from her new The London Cookbook and said, "I went with a few of the soup recipes because it’s that time of year when I desire the tempting aromas of soup to fill the kitchen. Soup is a true comfort food, don’t you think? ... After an hour it may be tender enough and tasty enough to enjoy a bowl.  But it will be even better the next day."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made Hungarian Mushroom Soup from the Old Country and said, "What is it about Hungarian mushroom soup that everyone loves? Recipes from the old country are flavorful and delicious. They call for real food ingredients that are both healthy and tasty. My mother's good friend Bernice used to make a her family's recipe when I was a teenager and always shared some with us. It brings back wonderful memories of warming up with a hot bowl of this flavorful soup on a cold and damp autumn evening."

Debbie of The Friday Friends shared Broccoli Cheese Soup and said, "This is a favorite of everyone in my house. Cheesy, creamy goodness! Although the title of the recipe might indicate this to be a vegetable soup--it isn't. It's a cheese soup. The dominant flavor is cheese. It's so yummy!! I always think of making this soup as the weather starts to get cold outside. There are certain traditions to look forward to as the seasons change and this soup is a fall and winter favorite!'

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

 Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Love the flavors in the soup and the butter! When I saw the title of "Middle Eastern," I thought maybe you were already posting for Apricots.

  2. Love the spices in your Middle Eastern Spinach soup-and the butter ! Very enticing!

  3. thank you so much for hosting. Spinach is not something i use in a soup much, but i do love the flavours here.


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