Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar)

Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar) by Familyspice.com

It is cold outside.

I know, I know, I live in San Diego and those of you buried in snow or have temperatures below freezing want to reach through the computer and shake me! We had our first big cold front pass through last weekend. Fall, no WINTER, finally hit Southern California. When you suffer from dry, hot weather all summer and fall, you look forward to a little change and some desperately needed rain. So as we save money on our water bill, by shutting off our sprinklers, we watch our gas and electric bill rise because of the heater!

And, maybe it’s sign of the time of year, but all I see on cooking websites and blogs are about sweets, treats and desserts. Even I’m guilty of it! So, today, I wanted to talk about something you can wrap your cold hands around: soup. My husband and middle child LOVE soup. My husband likes to joke and tells me that if it wasn’t for my little man loving soup so much (and the veggies I cram in it!), than my hubby would never get any soup!

Paymon’s favorite soup is chicken noodle soup with lemon. I make this homemade treat about once a week now! If I have a chicken carcass lying around, I make homemade broth. Otherwise, I love the cartons of organic chicken broth I find at Costco. Either way, the soup tureen is overflowing in my house.

After a month or two of chicken soup, with may variations of course, I decided to make something heartier to befit this cold, cold weather we now have. Persian soups, called “Ash,” are some of the most nutritious soups I know of. They aren’t liquidy, like a can of Campbell’s soup. They are what Rachel Ray calls, “Stoups” – a cross between a stew and a soup. Very full of vegetables, rice and meat.

And with pomegranates in season, I decided to make one of my personal favorites: Pomegranate Soup, or Ash-e Anar.

My uncle first made this soup for me my freshman year in college at the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!). I got sick with mono. Now jokes aside, there was no kiss that got this girl sick! And I was determined to not balloon on the steroids I was pumped with. My aunt and uncle, who lived in Tucson, took care of me, and I was able to finish the semester without dropping any classes. I credit there love and this soup for my speedy recovery!

Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar) by Familyspice.com

This particular recipe is without meat, so vegetarians take note! I start with browning onions with fresh parsley, cilantro, leeks and spinach. Then, I add my broth, whether chicken or vegetable, and some lemon juice (a must for my lemon lovers in the house). I bring the soup to a boil and add uncooked rice and yellow split peas. Then you let this baby simmer for about 20 minutes for the rice and peas to cook.

Pomegranates on Tree by Familyspice.com

Now Iranians love their pomegranates and we use it a lot in our cooking. One thing you can find in middle-eastern stores, is pomegranate paste. This is pomegranate juice with a lot of the water boiled down. We always have a bottle in the pantry and I used this for the soup. But, you can also use pomegranate juice or real pomegranate seeds. A little sugar offers a tad of sweetness, salt and pepper to taste and soup’s ready.

I like to garnish the soup with fresh pomegranate seeds, which we always seem to have in the fridge this time of year. My kids love these little jewels. My husband and I can’t peel them fast enough! And just a note, when you do crack open a pomegranate, gently break open the compartments away from you and don’t wear light colored clothing. Pomegranate juice does stain! But, the work is so worth it!

Stay warm and bundle up this cold winter, even though winter hasn’t officially hit yet! We have about ten days until that happens with the longest night of the year. But, don’t be depressed. After that, the nights will get shorter and shorter and soon we will all be complaining about the heat again!!

Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar)

This hearty, Persian soup will nurture your soul with spinach, yellow split peas and the tang of pomegranate. Recipe by Laura Bashar of Family Spice

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup parsley, American, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, fresh, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, fresh, chopped
  • 1 leek
  • 8 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 6 TBS pomegranate arils, (1 TBS per bowl)

Directions:

  1. Heat a large stock pot on medium and add:
    • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  2. When oil is hot, add:
    • 1 cup parsley, American , chopped
    • 3/4 cup cilantro, fresh , chopped
    • 1 cup spinach, fresh , chopped
  3. Cut in half, lengthwise:
    • 1 leek
  4. Spread the layers of the leek open and hold them under running water to remove the sand and dirt trapped inside the leek.
  5. Coarsely chop leeks and add to the mixture in the pot.
  6. Cook vegetables for 15 minutes.
  7. Pour in:
    • 8 cup vegetable stock
    • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  8. Cover pot and bring to a boil.
  9. When soup is boiling, add to pot:
    • 1/2 cup basmati rice , uncooked
    • 1/3 cup yellow split peas
  10. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
  11. Stir in:
    • 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup
    • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  12. Cover pot and simmer for 20 more minutes.
  13. Season soup to taste with:
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  14. When ready to serve, pour soup into individual bowls and garnish with:
    • 6 TBS pomegranate arils , (1 TBS per bowl)

Notes:

Cooking Tips: If you do not have pomegranate syrup, you can substitute it with 1 cup pomegranate juice. You can also substitute yellow split peas with lentils.

Prep Time:

Yield: Serves 6

Cook Time:

Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar) Detail

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