What this soup lacks in aesthetics it definitely makes up for in flavor and nutritional value. Chock-full of herbs, greens, and beans it is a complete and delicious meal. Ash e Reshteh (Noodle Soup) is traditionally served during Persian New Year or Nowruz. The noodles represent untangling the challenges that lay ahead because lets face it, challenges are the one thing you can always count on in life and it would be kinda boring without them.
I don’t cook from cookbooks very often but New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij is my go to for traditional Persian recipes that work for a modern American kitchen. I have cooked many a recipe out of this book and it has the food splattered and dogeared pages to prove it. This noodle soup recipe came from New Food of Life and calls for cooking the noodles for 30 minutes which really worried me at first. I didn’t want to eat slimy, overcooked noodles but the package instructions also said to cook the noodles for 30 minutes so I decided to just roll with it and cook it as instructed. Maybe they were some kind of special noodle?? They must be because they held up to the long cooking time and being reheated a couple times the next day. So if you’re making this, make sure you get THESE noodles because I can’t guarantee that the regular noodles you have in your pantry won’t disintegrate in this recipe.
I adjusted this recipe to be vegetarian because I had vegetarian people attending my Persian New Year dinner and I wanted them to feel included so the recipe below is my veggie version of Najmieh’s recipe.
One thing about these traditional Persian recipes is that they all take HOURS. These dishes hearken back to a time when there was usually someone who managed the household and took care of all the meals, it was their full time job to feed the family. There are other versions of this recipe out there that cut the cooking time a lot but there’s something about a slow cooked dish that makes it special. The element of time adds a few layers of flavor that you can’t shortcut. So slow down, take a few hours and enjoy.
Adapted from New Food of Life
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 cup dried red kidney beans
- 1/4 cup dried navy beans
- 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 10 – 12 cups of water or veggie broth
- 1 cup of lentils
- 4 cups of veggie broth (preferably home made)
- 1/2 lb of Persian noodles (reshteh)
- 1 cup chopped fresh chives or scallions
- 1 cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 cups chopped fresh parsley
- 10 cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped or 3 lbs chopped frozen spinach, defrosted
- 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, Greek yogurt or crème fraîche for garnish (optional)
- Put dried beans in a bowl and cover in water. Soak for at least 2 hours. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven and saute onions and garlic over medium heat until they are starting to brown.
- Add salt, pepper, turmeric to onions and stir until the onions are coated in the spices and it’s fragrant.
- Add the drained, soaked beans to the onion mixture and saute for a few minutes. Pour in the 10 cups of water or veggie broth. Allow it to come to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add lentils and 4 cups of veggie stock and cook for 55 more minutes.
- Add noodles and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally so that the noodles don’t stick to each other.
- Add all the chopped herbs and spinach, stirring to combine well and then cook for an additional 30 minutes or until beans are tender. Add more water by the 1/2 cup fulls if the soup is getting too thick. Adjust salt to taste.
- Pour into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream/Greek yogurt/crème fraîche on top.