Discoveries are a wonderful thing, and when you open your eyes to one new thing, you’re just amazed at what else you see out there.
Middle Eastern cuisine is something I’m just starting to explore and dip my toes into. This credit goes to my dear friend Cheryl, who published a beautiful opus to yogurt. In it, she really shined a light on just how global yogurt is. In reading her cookbook, my mind was piqued with all of the Middle Eastern foods that had yogurt and the strained yogurt cheese, labneh, that’s just as big as regular yogurt.
Curious me found the closest Middle Eastern grocery store and walked out with some labneh and a container of za’atar. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend with a few regional variations of spices containing sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, and oregano or cilantro. The mixture of spices come together and make a wonderfully warming and earthy taste.
I first tried za’atar on roasted carrots and fell in love with how much the spices married so well the carrot. It was so warming I knew I had to make a soup out of it. To just bring a little more to the table, I also added a dollop of yogurt when serving the soup (a proper homage to how I found za’atar in the first place) and topped it with pomegranate arils for some crunch and a little burst of sweetness.
This soup is so simple to make, you can make it all season long. Just keep your pantry well-stocked with carrots and you’ll be good to go. If you’re having trouble finding pomegranate or the arils (the seed pods), try other garnishes like toasted nuts, fresh herbs, or try a few kale chips sprinkled on top. Try some different things, and enjoy the discovery.