Aash-e Reshteh (Persian Bean, Herb and Noodle Soup)

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Although Nowruz was over a month ago, I wanted to share one of my favourite Persian New Year dishes. Also, considering we just got back from a much needed vacation, I thought it was quite appropriate seeing that in addition to being a holiday food, Aash-e Reshteh is also a meal you are supposed to make when a loved one travels.

Traditional Persian New Year dishes are filled with meaning and symbolism and Aash-e Reshteh is normally served on the first day of the New Year. Eating the noodles in Aash-e Reshteh represents the unravelling of the knots of life and it is supposed to bring good fortune and luck. Aash-e Resteh is also a dish that is traditionally prepared when someone embarks on a journey. When a loved one goes on a trip you are supposed to prepare this dish on the third day. According to my mother, if you want them to return soon you make the Aash thicker and if you want them to stay a little longer you prepare it a bit thinner. Either way, eating this Aash is supposed to bring the traveller luck and prosperity.

Hearty and nourishing, this thick soup is filled with beans, aromatic herbs, noodles and creamy whey (kashk). I strongly suggest using low sodium beans and broth as both the noodles and kashk have salt.

Aash-e Reshteh
Serves 6

3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped italian parsley
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 cup finely chopped green onion (green  parts only)
1 cup finely chopped spinach
1 cup finely chopped chives
1 can (540 ml) low sodium chick peas (drained)
1 can (540 ml) low sodium red kidney beans (drained)
1/4 cup dried green lentils, rinsed
9 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
200 grams dried reshteh noodles, broken in half*
1/2 cup kashk**
salt and pepper

Heat the canola oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Fry the onions for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another two minutes. Onions should be slightly golden. Add the turmeric and fry for one more minute. Reserve about a 1/4 of the onion mixture for garnish.

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Add the chicken/vegetable broth, the beans and the lentils. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a light boil. Once it has starting to lightly boil turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are al-dente (softened but still with a bit of a bite to them.

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Add the herbs and simmer for another 30 minutes.

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Check the Aash and when the lentils are cooked, add the reshteh noodles and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the noodles are soft. The Aash should be thick and hearty but if you find that the Aash is too thick you may add more broth or water. If the Aash is too thin you can add a tablespoon of flour mixed with 1/4 cup water to thicken it.

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Turn off the heat and add the kashk and stir well until dissolved. Taste and adjust seasoning and add extra kashk if you like.

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Serve in bowls garnished with the reserved fried onions. You may also garnish with fried dried mint, fried garlic and diluted kashk. Enjoy!

*If you do not have reshteh noodles, you can substitute with fettucine or linguine.

**If you do not have access to kashk you can substitute with sour cream.

Aash-e Gojeh Farangeh (Persian Tomato and Meatball Soup)

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Happy Birthday to us!!!! Today is officially The Pomegranate Diaries first birthday! It’s a doubly special birthday for me too as my son turned three months old today and has officially gone from newborn to infant!

In honour of this special day, I thought I’d prepare one of my favourite Persian dishes: Aash. It’s almost misleading to describe Aash as a soup……it’s so much more. It’s a complete meal, a cross between a soup and a stew, it’s our answer to what Americans call chowder. It’s warm, hearty, satisfying “stick to your ribs” type of food. Persians often serve it as a first course but this has always baffled me as I find most Aashes filling enough to be my main meal. When I lived in Montreal, my friends and I frequented a fantastic little Persian restaurant that would always serve a first course of Aash Reshte (Aash with Noodles and Beans) before our big kabob meal. We often were so stuffed by the time we finished our Aash that we had to take the kabob to go!

There are many different types of Aash. The following is my mom’s recipe for Aash-e Gojeh Farangeh – a hearty blend of meatballs, yellow split peas, rice and herbs in a delicious tomato broth. The Aash can also very easily be “veganized” by omitting the meatballs and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Aash-e Gojeh Farangeh

Serves 6-8

Soup:
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
5 1/2 cups tomato juice (preferably low sodium)
1 cup water
1/2 cup yellow split peas
1 cup basmati rice (rinsed)*
1/2 cup finely chopped italian parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped dill
1/2 cup finely chopped chives
2 tbsp finely chopped mint
salt and pepper

Meatballs:
1/2 lb lean (or extra lean) ground beef
1/2 onion minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a large pot heat the canola oil over medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and fry for another minute.

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Add the chicken broth, tomato juice, water, 1 tbsp salt and tsp pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the yellow split peas and the rinsed rice. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer until rice and split peas are tender (about 30-45 minutes). Make sure to stir occasionally so they do not stick on the bottom.

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Meanwhile, gently mix the ground beef with the minced onion (I chop mine in the food processor), the salt and pepper and set aside.

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When the rice and split peas in the soup are tender add the herbs. The soup should be thick but if it’s too thick add some extra water.

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Turn the heat of the soup up to medium-high heat. When it begins to gently boil you are ready to add the meatballs.

Take about a teaspoon size of the ground beef mixture and roll it between your two hands to create a small meatball……my mom said that they should be about the size of a small birds head but you are welcome to make them bigger if you wish. Drop them straight into the soup. Repeat until you have used all the beef.

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Once all the meatballs are in the soup, turn down the heat to low and let simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve and Enjoy!

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*To wash rice, put it into large bowl, cover with cold water and agitate it with your hands. You will notice that the water will become milky. Drain the water and repeat. Keep doing this until the water is almost clear.