Soup of the day

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December 4, 2014 11:00
Roasted tomato soup

Roasted tomato soup. (photo credit: ASSAF KARLA)


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A good meal can consist of a great bowl of soup with good bread and a salad.

But the soup really has to be great.

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Chef Michael Katz of the Haba trattoria near Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market believes that the flavor of the vegetables “makes the soup.” He starts every soup by sautéing the vegetables over medium to low heat, thus giving it more intense flavor, resulting in a rich soup. By adding unusual ingredients, such as home-cured sardines or trout, the soup becomes a complete meal.

Serves 4

✔ 800 gr. raw beetroot, peeled and cut into 3-cm. cubes
✔ 2 large onions, sliced
✔ 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
✔ 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
✔ 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
✔ 1 liter vegetable stock or water
✔ 250 crème fresh or sour cream
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ Chives or green onions for garnish

For the sardines:
✔ 4 fresh sardine fillets
✔ 100 gr. kosher salt
✔ 1 onion, sliced
✔ 1 bay leaf
✔ ½ Tbsp. coriander seeds
✔ 250 ml. canola oil

Place the sardines in a deep dish, skin side down. Cover with the salt and leave for 40 minutes to remove the bitter taste.


Wash the salt off with water and place again on the dish.

Arrange the sliced onions and the spices on the sardines.

In a pot, heat the oil to 63º (you will have to use a thermometer). Pour the warm oil on the fish to cover, and leave for at least 2 hours.

To prepare the soup:
Sauté the onions in 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add garlic and fresh thyme and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

Add the beetroot. Pour enough stock or water to cover, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until beetroot is cooked (about 40 minutes). Check from time to time and add more liquid if needed.

Transfer the soup into a blender and puree until smooth.

Return to the pot and bring back a boil.

Add sour cream or crème fresh, mix and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Strain the sardine fillets and place 1 on each plate. Pour the soup around the sardine fillet, garnish with chopped chives.

Serves 4

This is a very simple soup to make. It can be also be served chilled.

✔ 700 gr. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into 3-cm. slices
✔ 1 large onion, sliced
✔ 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
✔ 300 gr. Portobello mushrooms, sliced
✔ 1 liter vegetable stock or water
✔ 4 garlic cloves, sliced
✔ 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or ½ Tbsp. dry thyme)
✔ 2 celery stalks, diced
✔ 250 ml. cream (optional)
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt pepper
✔ Handful of fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
✔ Roasted pine nuts, for garnish

In a pan, heat 2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil and sauté the onions 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery, garlic and thyme and continue cooking a few more minutes.

Season the mushrooms with a little salt and pepper and add to the pan. Sauté 1 to 2 minutes and add the artichokes.

Cover with enough stock; bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer until artichokes are cooked, 25 to 30 minutes.

If you want to add the cream, add now at and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer the soup into a blender or use a hand blender and puree until smooth.

Bring back to a boil, season to taste with salt and pepper. You will need more salt if not using stock.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and chopped roasted nuts.

Tips: The soup tastes better a day after. If you want to freeze the soup, do so before you add the cream.

The more you sweat the vegetables at the beginning, the more developed the taste will be.

Serves 4

Curing trout is easy and well worth the trouble. Use your own recipe or the one below. The soup is good without the trout as well and can be served hot or cold.

✔ 2 leeks, white part only, sliced into 3-cm. discs. Soak the sliced leeks in warm water to remove sand

✔ 500 gr. potatoes, peeled and diced into 2-cm. cubes 
✔1 large onion, sliced
✔ 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ 1 liter vegetable stock or water
✔ 250 ml. cream (optional)
✔ Chives or dill for garnish

Sauté the onions in a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and sauté a few more minutes. Season with a little salt.

Strain the leeks and add to the pot. Add the potatoes and cover the vegetables with enough stock. Bring to a boil and simmer on very low heat until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.If using cream, add it and cook for 10 minutes.

Transfer the soup into a blender or use a hand blender. Puree until smooth. For a very fine texture, strain the soup and return to the pot. Bring to a boil and adjust consistency and seasoning.

Serve the soup in a bowl garnished with thinly sliced trout and fresh chopped chives or dill.

For the trout
✔ 1 fillet whole fresh white or red trout (250-300 gr.)
✔ 150 gr. kosher salt
✔ 150 gr. sugar
✔ 1 bay leaf, crumbled
✔ 1 anise star
✔ 4 cloves garlic
✔ 1 Tbsp. vodka

Place the trout in a deep baking dish. Sprinkle the sliced garlic evenly on top. Mix the salt and the sugar. Cover the trout with the sugar and salt mix. Drizzle the vodka over the fish.

Place the bay leaf and the anise star on top and cover with plastic foil.

Refrigerate for 8 hours.

Take the fish out of the mixture and wash very well under running water.


✔ 8 tomatoes
✔ 1 small onion
✔ 3 garlic cloves, sliced
✔ 1 large bouquet garni (see below)
✔ 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
✔ Olive oil
✔ Water or vegetable stock to cover
✔ 50 ml. balsamic vinegar
✔ 100 ml. cream

For the green oil
✔ Handful each of fresh cilantro leaves and spinach leaves
✔ 100 ml. olive oil
✔ Pinch salt

In a soup pot, sauté the onions in a little olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and coriander seeds and a pinch of salt; continue cooking and stirring a few more minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until it is almost completely evaporated.

Place the tomatoes in a baking dish with a little olive oil. Grill in the oven until skin is burnt. Turn so the tomatoes are seared on all sides.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the pot. Add the bouquet garni and cover with water or stock. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Check seasoning during the cooking time and add salt, sugar or vinegar if needed.

Use a hand blender or transfer to a blender and process until smooth. For a very fine texture, strain and return to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency.

If the soup is too thin, cook a little longer to concentrate the flavor.

Add a touch of cream if you want.


This is a classic method of adding flavor to soups and stews. There are different combinations of aromatic herbs used in this bundle.

For a classic bouquet garni, gather a few fresh parsley stalks, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Wrap them in a piece of muslin and tie with kitchen string. Place in the pot of soup and remove when the cooking is done. It can also be done without muslin, but the herbs may come apart during the cooking. You can add other seasonings, such as thyme, sage, allspice and a few whole black peppercorns if desired.

Recipes courtesy of Haba Trattoria and Delicatessen and chef Michael Katz. Haba belongs to the Haba family, owners of a popular bakery since the 1950s in the same building. Last year the family renovated the building and turned it into a kosher dairy bistro and delicatessen.

Haba, 119 Jaffa Road, Jerusalem, (02) 623-3379.

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