Saturday, December 24, 2011

Persian Soup

The best Christmas presents I could have asked for this year were having my family all in one place. I haven't seen my brother or sister-in-law, Lindsay, in over 6 months. Well, they are finally back and Lindsay requested this soup. 

Lindsay is in a top secret language and intelligence program, learning Farsi. They spent some time learning about food and culture. The pictures and discussion in class on this soup were too much to handle, and she had to have it when she got home. I was happy to oblige in return for a little "top secret" knowledge. This is all I got--Persia is Iran, and Iranians speak Farsi. The actual name of the soup is Ash-e Reshteh, which translates roughly to "noodle soup". Apparently, that was the only information lowly civilians like us are permitted to hear.
The soup is fairly straight forward and easy. The dish takes 3 hours total, but only 20 minutes is spent actively preparing. Make sure you soak the beans the night before. We substituted the sun-dried yogurt with sour cream, and we used natural good quality grape juice, not juice cocktail. We also opted for the whole wheat noodles. The herbs, especially the dill, add a lot of brightness and flavor to the dish. Several hours after eating the soup, we realized the spinach was never added. It still tasted delicious, and we all loved it.

This recipe is courtesy of her teachers wife.

1/4 cup oil
3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 cup dried kidney beans, washed and soaked in cold water for at
least 4 hours, then drained
1/4cup dried navy beans, rinsed and soaked for a t least 4 hours, then drained
1/4 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed, soaked for at lesast 4 hours, then drained
12-14 cups broth or water
1 cup lentils
1/2 pound Persian noodles or whole-weat linguine noodles, broken in half
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh chives or spring onions
1 cup chopped fresh dill weed
2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
3 pounds fresh spinach, washed and coarsely chopped, or 2 pounds of
chopped frozen spinach
1 fresh beet, peeled and diced in 1/2inch pieces (optional)
1-1/2 cups sun-dried yogurt or sour cream
1-1/2 cup unripe grape juice


1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until hot.
Add the onions and garlic and cook until golden brown. Add salt,
pepper, turmeric, kidney beans, navy beans, and chickpeas, and saute
for 2 minutes. Pour in 12 cups broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat,
cover, and simmer for 45 minutes over medium heat.

2. Add the lentils, cover, and cook for 55 minutes longer. Check to be
sure the beans are tender. Use a handheld mixer to partially puree the
soup. If you don't have a handheld mixer, scoop 1-2 cups out and pulse in a food processor or blender.

3. Add noodles and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add all the herbs and the beet. Cover and cook, stirring from time
to time for 10 minutes. Check to be sure the beans and noodles are tender.

5. Stir in the sour cream/sun dried yogurt. Add the juice and stir well with a
wooden spoon for 5 minutes until the sundried yogurt is thoroughly
incorporated. Add more warm water if **osh** is too thick. Adjust
seasoning to tatse. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Enjoy!

My brother and Lindsay got me a Persian cookbook, the author is the Persian version of Martha Stewart. I learned that it is customary to eat noodles in Iran before starting something new or after family leaves on a trip. On the third day after family leaves, you eat noodles and it sends them good fortune on their journey. I will be sure to eat some leftovers, ensuring her good luck back in training! 

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