The heart of the ash reshteh, an Iranian bean, herb, and noodle soup, is the flavor that comes from its mesmerizing toppings: caramelized onions with robust garlic and dried mint, along with smooth kashk, a creamy and intensely flavorful fermented dairy product, not unlike sour cream or thick yogurt. Combined, these toppings make a flavorful umami bomb, adding richness and depth to the ash reshteh. The earthy beans and aromatic herbs contrast each other and coat the noodles with kicks of flavor, while remaining a steadfast and sturdy comfort food. Look for kashk in the refrigerated section of Iranian markets, or substitute crème fraîche or Greek-style yogurt whisked with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Serves 6 to 8
3 yellow onions
½ cup olive oil, divided
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups cooked kidney beans
4 cups frozen lima beans
½ cup lentils
6 garlic cloves, minced, divided 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 heaping tablespoons dried dill
3 heaping tablespoons dried mint, divided
6 ounces reshteh or linguine noodles, broken into thirds
3 cups coarsely chopped kale, collards, or spinach (stems discarded)
⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ cups kashk or crème fraîche
- Dice 1 onion. Heat a large stockpot over medium and add 3 tablespoons of oil. Add diced onion and cook until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, lentils, 4 cloves of minced garlic, turmeric, dill, and 1 tablespoon of mint. Add 12 cups of water and bring to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer gently, partially Shafia’s collection of dishware, linens, and tokens, each with its own meaning, make up the Nowruz table. covered, for 1 hour.
- Slice remaining 2 onions into thin half-moons. Heat a medium skillet over high and add remaining oil. Add onion and pan-fry, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until golden. Reduce heat to medium and keep cooking onion until reduced to about half the original size, and dark brown and sweet, about 30 minutes. Add remaining minced garlic and remaining mint. Sauté about 2 minutes, until garlic is no longer raw and mint is soft and fragrant. Set aside.
- In last 30 minutes of cooking soup, add noodles and leafy greens. Stir well so noodles don’t clump. When noodles are tender, add lemon juice. Season with salt to taste. Serve each bowl with a large dollop of kashk and a spoonful of fried onion topping
Recipes adapted fromThe New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia, copyright (c) 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random house, Inc.