Ash reshteh (a vegetarian noodle soup) is a very popular, hearty and nutritious soup made of fresh herbs, beans and noodles. The soup can be served as a main dish and is usually garnished with caramelized onions and sautéed garlic and mint. It goes without saying that there are many variations of this dish using different herbs and beans. Most of the preparation for this dish can be done a day or two in advance. Just as with most Persian dishes the soup tastes even better the next day.
Ash Reshteh (Noodle Soup)
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 2 hr 40 min
Ready in: 3 hr
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
1 cup pinto beans
¾ cup chickpeas
1 cup lentils
3 bunches fresh parsley (6 cups chopped)
3 bunches fresh green onion (6 cups chopped)
2 bunches fresh cilantro (4 cups chopped)
2 pounds fresh spinach
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large onions peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 package (12 oz.) reshteh (Persian noodles)
2 cups kashk
6 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried mint
3 tablespoons oil
To soak the beans overnight, place them in a large bowl. Fill with water, covering the beans by 4 inches. If you don’t have time for overnight soaking, place the beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a gentle boil, uncovered, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. You can also use canned beans.
Pick through the beans before soaking and remove any small stone or debris. Soaking beans cuts cooking time significantly and gives the beans the moisture content they need to cook quickly and evenly without splitting open. Drain and rinse before adding to the pot.
Place pinto beans and chickpeas in a medium-size pot. Add 6 cups water, bring to a soft boil skimming off any foam from the top. Cover, cook over medium-low heat for about 50 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain, reserving the liquid. Older beans take longer to cook. To prevent beans from undercooking or overcooking, cook them separately.
Add lentils and 3 cups of water to a small pot. Cook for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain, reserving the liquid.
While the beans are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet. Add chopped garlic. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet. Add 2 teaspoons dried mint. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the color slightly darkens. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Clean parsley and cilantro by cutting off the stems. Cut off the root ends of green onions. Wash, strain and coarsely chop all the herbs.
Heat ½ cup oil in a large skillet. Add chopped onions, cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon dried mint. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes or until fragrant. Take off heat and set aside.
In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil (16 cups including the water from the beans). Add spinach and herbs, cook for 5 minutes. Break reshteh in half and add to the pot. Stir for few minutes to separate the strands. Add beans, lentils, 1 teaspoon salt and the onion mixture. Cook for about 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. The ash comes together when the reshteh expands and thickens the liquid. If the ash is too thick, add more water to thin it. If it’s too thin, simmer (uncovered) to reduce the liquid.
Add 1½ cups kashk to the pot , mix. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with kashk, dried mint and garlic.