My last trip to the Middle East had me on the road for two weeks stuffing my face with loads of hummus, pita, and knafeh for dessert. By the time I got home, I needed to reset my diet but still wanted some of my favorite flavors of the region—tahini, za'atar (a mix of herbs, sesame, and sumac), and chickpeas. I rifled through my pantry for those ingredients and started cookign and cooking. The result was this Tahini Carrot Soup that's totally vegetarian and creamless but super rich and filling and just the right amount of nod to my trip.
more for chickpeas and garnish
white part only, thinly sliced
plus more leaves for garnish
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium head. Add the leek and cook until translucent. Add garlic, salt, pepper, coriander, and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots and stir to coat them with leek mixture. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then add broth, thyme, and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, partly cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 400°F. Drizzle bread cubes with enough olive oil to soak, toast to coat, and sprinkle with salt and za'atar. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until brown and crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, combine garbanzo beans on a rimmed baking sheet, with oil and salt, and toss to coat. Bake until crunchy, split, and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheet. Will last up to 3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
When carrots are tender, turn off heat and let soup cool for 10 minutes. Remove thyme branches and stir in tahini. Using either an immersion blender, high-performance blender, or food processor, purée soup until smooth. Return to pot and reheat if necessary. Taste and add lemon juice and more salt if desired. Serve topped with croutons, garbanzo beans, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp