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Sarina’s Sephardic Cuisine app includes over 160 easy to follow recipes, photos and video links to demonstrations. 

Soups  The First Foods
Soups The First Foods

Combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food makes a soup. This made it the perfect choice for many cultures, rich and poor, and the foods created evolved according to locally available ingredients and tastes.

Soups are a lifesaver in cold wintry weather, when they are cooked several times a week. With large families at hand, the soups filled many stomachs and provided excellent nutrition. Beans provided protein and vegetables gave added vitamins. There is nothing more tempting, more nutritious and more filling than a bowl of homemade soup.

As family members struggled into her kitchen prior to a holiday meal, Sarina's mother Renée would say, “Sit down I’ll give you a bowl of soup while you wait.”  Sometimes six or seven people vied for a seat around her small round kitchen table, while others stood until they could get their bowls, each filled with potatoes, thinly sliced carrots and a matzo ball. Other soups that we vied for were Chicken shulbah (tomato rice), and split pea.

Soups, known in Arabic as shourba, were sustenance for the poorest peasants throughout Middle East history. Soups are served as side dishes, with mezze, as appetizers, or as a full meal with salad and hot pita.

We use easy to find fresh ingredients in tried and true traditional Middle Eastern soup recipes that are delicious, wholesome and flavorful, while also nutritious and filling. Hardy legumes such as chickpeas and lentils as well as common vegetables that thrive in semi-arid lands are heavily used in these culinary delights prepared with citrus lemon, pungent herbs and aromatic spices.

Many of these dishes are vegetarian or can be prepared by leaving out the meat or chicken. These mouth-watering everyday soups will diffuse their enticing aromas in your home. Ironically, since soups are known as peasant foods, they are not served to guests. They satisfy the hunger, are economical to prepare and give one a feeling of warmth.

Photos above by Mark Greenberg

Videos by Joe Williams