Ash Reshteh Soup Recipe (Persian Soup)
Ash reshteh is one of my husband Lulu's favorite soups. Lulu is a vegetarian, and this Persian noodle soup totally fits the bill. The combination of egg noodles (called "reshteh") and various beans and lentils makes a well-balanced meal for a vegetarian diet. I think the key to making this dish flavorful is the addition of crispy, caramelized onions, which give an amazing fragrance to the soup. The saffron and mint yogurt sauce also contributes a fair share of creaminess and complexity to the dish as well.
Yields: 10 servings4 tablespoons olive oil (or grapeseed oil), as needed
3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick
½ cup dried black lentils
1 tablespoon basmati rice
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups Swiss chard
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ bunch fresh dill, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 (14-ounce) cans vegetable broth, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
5 tablespoons pomegranate paste (see tips)
1-½ teaspoons turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
6 ounces egg noodles (see tips)
1-½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon dried mint
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup sour cream (see tips)
Prepping the Swiss chard and spinach: Wash the Swiss chard and spinach thoroughly in several baths. Remove and discard the older, fibrous part of the stems. Drain and remove all the excess water using a salad spinner. Roughly chop the leaves.
Prepping the lentils: Wash the lentils. Discard any floating or odd-shaped lentils. Wash and rinse thoroughly in several water baths (about three times) and set aside to soak for at least 1 hour. Drain the lentils, removing as much of the soaking water as possible.
Caramelized onions: In a pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil. Cook the onions until nicely golden (it may take up to 10 minutes). Drain, leaving as much oil as possible and reserve about 3 tablespoons of fried onions (for the yogurt sauce later). Add the cinnamon stick, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, salt and pepper. Stir well, then set aside.
Making ash reshteh soup:
In the same pot, combine the fried onions, black lentils, remaining turmeric powder, ground cumin and fresh mint leaves. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add 5 cups of water; the water should cover the lentils. Bring to a boil and lower to a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the lentils and they'll be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the lentils don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the basmati rice, cover with a lid and cook for another 20 minutes.
Optional step: Transfer half the amount of cooked lentils into the bowl of an immersion blender. Coarsely blend the mixture and pour it back into the pot.
Add the leafy greens (spinach and Swiss chard), parsley, dill, green onions, cilantro, marjoram, pomegranate paste and the vegetable broth. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes until softened.
Add the garbanzo beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans. Stir well. Add another cup of boiling water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
Break the egg noodles (reshteh noodles) in half and add to the liquid. Cook for another 15 minutes until softened. Depending on how thick you like ash reshteh soup, you can add up to 1 cup of boiling water or vegetable broth (Lulu likes it a little soupy). Adjust seasoning.
For the sour cream sauce topping:
When you're ready to serve, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan, add the dried mint. Cook in the hot oil; the mint will darken. Remove from the heat and immediately transfer to the sour cream. Stir well.
In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron threads. Add about 1 tablespoon of warm water. Set aside.
Drizzle the saffron liquid into the sour cream sauce, then add the reserved fried onions. Mix well.
Ladle the ash reshteh soup into individual serving bowls. Top with the cream sauce.
You can find pomegranate paste in Middle Eastern markets. It's also called pomegranate molasses.
My favorite part of the soup is the saffron-flavored cream sauce. Don't forget to serve it on the side.
You can find whole black dal at any Indian store. You could also replace the black lentils with toor dal (yellow split pigeon peas). It's equally delicious.
Black dal lentils.
For a healthier version, you could replace the sour cream with low-fat yogurt.
Saffron is quite expensive; I usually get it at a more reasonable price at the Indian market. It gives the sauce a beautiful yellow hue.
I used thin egg noodles called reshteh (Persian noodles). You can find it in Middle Eastern stores. If you don't have any you could use broken flat egg noodles such as linguine pasta.Published By: on April 3, 2011.