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Middle Eastern Broccoli soup

Middle Eastern Broccoli soup

Serves 8

750g broccoli
1 tbsp clarified butter
1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
pinch grated nutmeg
pinch cardamom
1 tsp za’atar
2 tbsp tahini paste
4-5 tbsp finely chopped parsley
70g pine nuts, toasted, roughly chopped
sprinkle of sumac and toasted pita breads, to serve

Tahini Cream

2-4 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 lemons, juice only
150ml tahini paste
1 tsp cumin seeds

Cut broccoli into florets, keeping the stalks. Peel any leaves off stalks and thinly slice.

Melt clarified butter in a large 3-litre saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until tender.

Add broccoli stalks and florets, stock, thyme, nutmeg, cardamom, za’atar and two cups water. Season to taste. Bring to the boil over high heat and boil 15 minutes, or until broccoli stalks are tender.

Spoon small amounts of broccoli mixture into a blender. Cover; blend on low speed until smooth. Pour mixture into bowl. Repeat with remaining broccoli mixture. Return mixture to cleaned pan. Stir in tahini paste; heat through over medium heat but do not boil.

To make tahini cream, crush garlic together with the salt using the back of a knife. Add to a bowl or glass jar and gradually beat in half the lemon juice. Whisk in tahini paste then add 3-4 tablespoons cold water. Beat vigorously into the paste.

Grind cumin seeds; add a little at a time, to taste. Add more lemon juice and more water if necessary to achieve a thick cream consistency.

Serve soup with a spoonful of tahini cream, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and sumac. Accompany with toasted pita bread.

TIP: Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix that can 
be found in good delicatessens and international food stores. If unavailable, you can use sumac mixed with dried thyme leaves.

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