Chilled Watercress Soup with Za’atar

by Deedra Abboud in Recipe, Soup
May 8, 2019 0 comments

Though za’atar literally means “thyme” in Arabic, it’s actually a supremely aromatic spice blend combining toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, and sumac. It’s pronounced “Zah’tar.”

I haven’t spent much time experimenting with za’atar beyond adding it to some Middle Eastern recipes or dips but it’s really a versatile spice combination for a variety of dishes.

Serves 4.


1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 large), cut into 1-in pieces. *peeled optional [I tend to keep skins on veggies as much as possible for the extra nutrients and fiber]

1 garlic clove, large, halved

1/2 lb watercress with stems

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cup whole milk [1/2 buttermilk & 1/2 whole milk is also an option]

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup creme [options: creme fraiche, lebna, sour creme, yogurt]

8 tsp za’atar


In a medium saucepan, combine potatoes, garlic, and 4 cups water [the water isn’t just for boiling, it’s the base, so the amount does matter]. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the watercress and cook until the greens are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. [For cold soup, refrigerate until cold before next steps.]

Transfer the potato-watercress mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. [Careful if still hot soup.] With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Pour the soup back into the saucepan [or mixing bowl if serving coold], stir in milk and 1/2 cup of cold water; stir in more water if the soup is too thick. Season with salt. Heat on low heat until warm enough to serve. [If serving cold, cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Pour the hot [or chilled] soup into serving bowls. Top each with 1 tablespoon of creme and 1 teaspoon of za’atar. Serve.

Serving with fried/baked pita chips, croutons, or fried onions is a nice addition.

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