Falafel, that tasty vegetarian Mediterranean street food made from chickpeas, isn’t just for pitas anymore. It’s showing up in sub sandwiches, salads, chips, pizzas – even soup.

Why is it so popular?

“It’s vegetarian and a hearty add on,” said David Delinko, owner of The Salad House of Somerville, where customers can get warm pieces of falafel on their made-to-order salads. 

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Chef Paul Watterson of Fanwood Grille in Fanwood, NJ is famous for his soups, so it should come as no surprise to his fans that he found a way to make falafel into bowl food.

“This actually is vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free,” said Watterson, who arrives each morning at 4 a.m.  to start making soup. Fanwood Grille sells almost 1,000 pints of various soups a week, he said.

“We have a falafel pita and a falafel salad, so to make soup we took everything that’s in the pita, without the pita,” Watterson said.

He tops each bowl of the rich, slightly peppery vegetable-and-chickpea soup with a falafel ball.

A few doors down, sister restaurant Nick’s Pizza and Deli serves another of Watterson’s creations — a falafel pizza. The square pizza is topped with falafel crumbles, chopped vegetables and a touch of mozzarella and finished with tahini sauce.

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