Persian Split Pea & Rice Soup with Meatballs (Ash)

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. ūüôā

I’m sharing my dish at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #157 this week co-hosted by Andrea @Cooking with a Wallflower and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living. Enjoy!

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
  1. 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.
  2. Add the rice, split peas and 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro and mint and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pomegranate molasses/balsamic vinegar and season with salt.
  6. Make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
  7. Roll rounded teaspoons of the ground meat into balls.
  8. Add the meatballs to the soup and simmer until cooked through, 10 minutes. If the soup is getting too thick, add water.
  9. Meanwhile, Make the Toppings: In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.
  10. Add the dried thyme or mint and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Scrape the herb oil into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
  11. 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.
  12. 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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