If you’ve seen my second cookbook, The Savvy Cook, you know that I’m O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D. with halloumi cheese. It’s such a vegetarian cliché but hey, it’s delicious af, why not be into it?
At the start of last semester I made a minestrone with some random veg which needed using up and had a BRAINWAVE moment when I realised I also had the end of a halloumi block in the fridge.
You just fry up your halloumi as you would usually then cut it into adorable little squares to sprinkle onto soup. Not technically a crouton, I know, but they’re almost better because you lose the soggy bread danger. They’re salty, chewy and the heat of the soup keeps the halloumi warm so it doesn’t dry out.
So after trying my idea out in the minestrone and giving it a thumbs up, I thought a smooth tomato soup would be another obvious partner. Za’atar (a sesame, sumac & herb mix) seemed like a good sprinkle for the top and I blended cauliflower into the soup itself for a sliiiightly creamier texture. Super easy dinner or lunch but just a little bit fancy.
Tomato Za'atar Soup with Halloumi Croutons
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- a 400 g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 a low-salt vegetable stock cube
- half a small cauliflower (~200g), cut into small florets
- 1 tbsp za'atar (plus more for sprinkling) - see notes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1-3 tsp sugar
- 125 g (5oz) halloumi cheese, sliced 5mm thick
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the red onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until the onion has softened.
Pour in the can of tomatoes. Fill the can up with water and add that to the pot too. Crumble in the stock cube and add the cauliflower and za'atar. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 10 minutes then remove the lid and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Add the balsamic and 1 tsp of sugar to the pot. Blend the soup either using a stick blender straight in the pot or by pouring it into a free-standing blender. Taste the soup and add any more sugar or salt, if needed.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add the halloumi slices to the pan. Cook until golden underneath then flip and cook until the other side is golden too. Remove to a cutting board and chop into bite-sized squares.
To serve: Divide the soup between bowls, top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of za'atar and a few halloumi squares.
- Za'atar is a herb mix which you can either buy pre-mixed or make yourself. I'd advise getting it from a Middle Eastern food shop as you'll get a large bag rather cheaply that way (supermarkets tend to sell it in tiny tubs for way more £££). If you want to make it yourself, mix equal volumes of sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried oregano and sumac.