Astoria Soup

Who woke up this morning thinking "I know what I could do with - a big bowl of Egyptian soup". 

No? 

What, not

one

of you?! 

Ok, ok, me either, but a couple of weeks ago I was bored & found myself doing what I always do when I'm bored - I buried myself in my recipe books. 

It's obviously no secret that I love to spend time in my kitchen. It's how I chill out, it's what centres me & I consider it the ultimate form of therapy if it's been a bit of a shitty day (well, that & an insanely large glass of wine). 

For me, part of the fun of testing out new recipes is finding one with an ingredient I've never heard of. The challenge of finding that ingredient without having to order it online, is just something my 32yr old self likes to do. Sometimes it's a winner, other times it can be annoying, like when i

finally

find the magical ingredient & spend time making the recipe only for it to it tastes like crap. Thankfully though, this is not that time. 

The new fangled ingredient I'm talking about here is zahtar.

WTF is zahtar? 

Zahtar (sometimes spelt Zatar or Zaa'tar) is a spice mix made up of Sumac, dried thyme & sesame seeds & they use it a lot in middle eastern dishes. I first heard of it in Jamie's recipe for his Astoria soup which someone made him when he was eating his way through New York (i don't know why I talk about Sir Jamie of Oliver as if i know him either, ignore me).

The good thing about this recipe is that although it's nice to use zahtar & sumac, Jamie told me that we don't

have

to if we can't find it as the soup is just pretty damn good on it's own. He's right, but then he would be, he is

JAMIE! 

And i know that soup in late summer is a bit weird but it just works, so relax.

Now tell me, what better reason do you have to wake up tomorrow morning thinking "I know what i could do with - a big bowl of Egyptian soup"...

So, for LOADS (6 people) - you will need: 

- 75g bulgar wheat - cooked according to packet instructions

- 1 red onion, peeled & finely chopped

- 1 red bell pepper, peeled & finely chopped

- 1 green bell pepper, peeled & finely chopped

- 1 yellow bell pepper, peeled & finely chopped

- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled & minced

- 3 tbsp sumac 

- 2 tbsp zahtar

- 1 tsp ground cumin

- 1tsp smoked paprika

- 12 cherry toms, halved

- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

- 1.5lt veg stock

- 6 flour tortillas quartered (or 3 pittas cut in half width ways, then halved again)

- fresh mint, roughly chopped

- 2 limes, cut into wedges

- olive oil

- sea salt & black pepper

and you will need to do this:

1. Cook your bulgar wheat according to the packet instructions & set aside.

2. In a large soup pot / saucepan heat your olive oil over a high heat.

3. When hot, add your peppers, onion & garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often,

 4. Add your sumac, zahtar, cumin & smoked paprika & continue to cook for another minute.

5. Add your cherry tomatoes & cooked bulgar wheat.

6. Add your tinned tomatoes & your veg stock. Season with salt & pepper & slowly bring to the boil. Turn the heat down & simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes. 

 7. Meanwhile, spray your quartered tortillas on both sides with olive oil & sprinkle with a light dusting of sumac.

8. Pop them under a grill and toast until slightly browned on one side, then turn over & toast the other side. Keep an eye on them as this takes seconds!

9. Once you have a nice big bowl of toasted tortillas, take them with your remaining sides (mint, lime wedges) to the table.

10. Once your soup is done, taste & adjust seasoning.

11. Dish up & serve. Soup never tasted soooo good!

 P.S - kids LOVE this dish. Dexter has asked for it 3 times since I first made it last week, and Indi literally inhales the stuff. Result!