This stew-like soup, traditionally called “ash” in Persian cooking, had a wonderful and unique flavor profile. It was loaded with fresh herbs which added lightness and brightness to what would otherwise be a heavy soup. I also added fresh lemon juice which contributed to the brightness.
This recipe was adapted from cookbook author Naomi Duguid, via Food and Wine. I don’t typically eat lamb and my husband is not partial to mint, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly by using ground turkey and dried thyme. I was unable to track down pomegranate molasses (discontinued at Trader Joe’s! ), so I used balsamic vinegar in its place. Very hearty, healthy, and tasty. 🙂
For the Soup:
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/4 cup short-grain white rice (I used arborio rice)
- 3/4 cup dried green split peas, soaked overnight and drained
- 2 cups finely chopped parsley leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, optional
- 2 cups finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, optional
- 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves (I omitted the mint)
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or aged balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
- coarse salt
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
For the Meatballs:
- 1 small yellow onion, grated
- 1/2 pound ground lamb or turkey
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Crispy Onion Topping:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- generous pinch of dried thyme or mint
- Make the Soup: In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, cinnamon and turmeric and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
- Add the rice, split peas and 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice and peas are tender and the soup is quite thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro and mint and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Stir in the pomegranate molasses/balsamic vinegar and season with salt.
- Make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
- Roll rounded teaspoons of the ground meat into balls.
- Add the meatballs to the soup and simmer until cooked through, 10 minutes. If the soup is getting too thick, add water.
- Meanwhile, Make the Toppings: In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.
- Add the dried thyme or mint and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Scrape the herb oil into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until golden and crisp, 8 minutes; drain.
- Serve the soup garnished with the herb oil, fried onions, and additional fresh herbs, as desired.
Note: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated gently before serving. Add the meatballs and simmer 10 minutes before serving.
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