Traditional Greek tahinosoupa is quick, simple, colorful, utterly delicious and of course, authentically vegan! Served hot or at room temperature, tahini soup is a light, wonderfully flavorful dish that’s just the thing for summer and it’s ready in 20 minutes – including prep!
Most often served during lent or nisteia, the period of fasting from animal products before Easter, and especially during Holy Week and on Holy Friday when many Orthodox people refrain even from olive oil. You can understand what a big sacrifice that is if you read any of our recipes here on The Greek Vegan!
The pasta (or rice) is small and delicate. My favorite and probably the most authentic pasta for this soup is a Greek pasta, peponaki. This means ‘little melons’ and just as cute as they sound They are shaped like small orzo, like orzo’s littler sister let’s say, as you can see in the close up below. Very tender when cooked and not mushy, Misko brand peponaki always boil up well and are imported right from Greece. You can, of course, use any small pasta like Italian star pasta or even short grain rice. Your vegetables will cook directly in the pasta/rice water and the starch will naturally thicken your tahinosoupa to a smooth creaminess that’s just wonderful. Can you tell I really love this dish?!
Make sure to grate the carrots and celery and slice the scallions very thinly because they don’t have much time to cook so chunky veggies are out. Chop your parsley into fine pieces and your celery leaves too if you’re using those. I like to include celery leaves you sometimes find at the top of the celery stalks in the tahinosoupa in addition to the parsley when I can. They add something I’m not quite able to define but it’s definitely worth tossing them in when available! Everything about this soup is light and delicate – I may overuse those adjectives here but they really do apply!
Tahini, or ground sesame paste, is the fat in this recipe and combined with a few ordinary vegetables, tahinosoupa is the perfect summer soup for two reasons – actually three! Ok, it’s perfect anytime of year but as it’s mid-June let’s stick to summer reasons:
First, it’s on the stovetop for exactly 10 minutes, no more – always a good thing on a hot summer day! Second, you can make it in the cooler evening or morning time and serve at room temperature anytime later in the day or the next without reheating. Third, it’s a it’s a great recipe to use up leftover vegetable scraps that are too big for the compost bowl but too small to really do much else with but put into a single salad. Truth be told, I often make it when I clean out the fridge and vegetable bins 🙂
As always when cooking with tahini, make sure to mix it well before incorporating into the recipe. Take the few extra seconds for this step because it really makes a big difference in how smooth your soup will be. Feel free to whip a batch of homemade tahini or use your favorite store brand. Don’t skimp with the tahini here because, again, this is your only fat!
A 3 quart stockpot or pan is perfect for this recipe that can be easily scaled to size. Simply double or triple all ingredients – and use a bigger pot 🙂
Something to remember, the longer this soup sits after it’s cooked, the thicker it will get. I don’t mean immediately but say overnight. I happen to love it just as much even a couple of days later when it thickens up as when it’s right off the stove but if you want to loosen it, simply stir in a couple of tablespoons of warm vegetable broth (or even water) until you get the desired consistency. Something to note, this is not the best dish to refrigerate – kind of turns to glue. Just keep it covered on the kitchen counter for up to 3 days and it will be perfection.
The super streamlined prep is outlined in detail in the instructions below because this WILL become a go-to quick meal in your kitchen cause how many healthy, nutritious meals can you make in 20 minutes with a few leftover ingredients already in your fridge? Ok, tahini may not be in every cupboard but it should be! Enjoy 🙂
- 6 cups of water
- 2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup small pasta (Italian stars or Greek Misko peponi)
- 1/4 cup celery, grated (about 2 stalks)
- 1/4 cup scallions, sliced very thin (2-3)
- 1/3 cup grated carrots (1/2 medium carrot)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup tahini, mixed well
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Gather and grate/chop your vegetables and herbs. Measure out the pasta. Squeeze lemons, REMOVE THE PITS PLEASE!, and set juice aside in small bowl. Mix tahini in small bowl and set aside.
Bring salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and simmer for exactly 5 minutes. Add all vegetables/herbs and simmer for additional 5 minutes. Take soup off of the heat.
In the small bowl with tahini, add a few ladles of hot soup broth and mix well. Add this back to the soup and stir to incorporate completely. Add lemon juice and serve.
Garnish with grated lemon zest, sesame seeds and chopped scallions with wedges of lemon and crusty bread.
Serves 6 – BOOM!