Celebrate spring and Norouz, the Persian new year, with this traditional Persian noodle, Ashe Reshteh, a vegetarian soup made with beans, lentils and herbs.
Among the many traditions we have for Norouz, Persian New Year, we have the traditional meal, too. Just like Thanksgiving finds millions of American’s eating Turkey and the fixings, we Iranians eat our Herb Rice with Fish (Sabzi Pollo ba Mahi), this Persian Noodle Soup (Ashe Reshteh), and Kookoo-yeh Sabzi (an herb quiche).
I’ve already shared my family’s recipe for the Sabzi Pollo, and our trail mix (ajeel) for Chahr-Chambe Souri. So, today is dedicated to my favorite Persian soup, Ashe Reshteh.
What is Ash Reshteh?
The staple starch in Persian cuisine is rice and bread. Noodles are not very common in traditional Persian recipes. But noodles are served for the Persian new year, as they represent long life.
Reshteh, Persian noodles, can be baked in with rice for reshteh pollo, or they can be added to soup, for ash reshteh. Most translations say it is a flat egg noodle, but my mother-in-law insists that Reshteh is not made with egg.
Plus, the color is different from the egg noodles you find in the U.S. Instead of yellow, it is a light brown. The size is more like fettuccine, flat and long, so you can easily use that if you don’t have Reshteh. But, don’t tell my mother-in-law I said that!
Now Persian soups, ash, are not thin and runny or watery. They are thick, hearty soups full of delicious goodness. Maybe that’s why I like this soup so much?
The recipe below shows you how to make ash reshteh traditionally, in a pot over the stove. I have recently updated this recipe and you can create it in the pressure cooker. Check out my recipe for instant pot ash reshteh.
Symbolism of ashe reshteh for norouz
Like the other meals served on norouz, this Persian noodle soup is filled with herbs and greens to represent the green of spring: parsley, green onions and spinach. I like to use fresh herbs for ash reshteh, but many people do use dried. For spinach, I prefer to use frozen versus fresh because it has already been cleaned and chopped for me.
The reshteh noodles are not broken up in this soup, but left long. It can be a hassle to eat them this way, but the long noodles represent a long life.
Nowruz lasts for two weeks in Iran, ending with a picnic outdoors to be celebrated with friends and family. Ash Reshteh is typically served for this picnic, sizdeh bidar. At these gatherings, it is common to see families sitting together on their persian rugs at the park, with a big pot of ash reshteh in the center, and everyone enjoying a bowl full.
How to serve ash reshteh
Ash reshteh is a delicious soup on its own, without any garnishes. But it is traditionally served with some extras, requiring a little extra work.
Onions are sliced and fried until dark and caramelized. Dried mint is sautéed in olive oil until aromatic and dark green. Saffron is also crushed and steeped in hot water.
Once ready to serve, kashk is swirled into the soup. Kashk is basically fermented yogurt with much of the liquid evaporated off. You can make kashk at home, buy kashk on amazon or at a middle eastern market, or substitute it with sour cream or creme fraiche.
My husband and his family prefer their ash reshteh with red wine vinegar instead of kashk, and they use that to sour the soup instead. This is a great option if you do not eat dairy or are vegan.
Whichever sour vessel you prefer, ash reshteh is then garnished with the caramelized onions, fried mint and drizzles of saffron water (I sell high quality Persian saffron here).
Garnishing your Ash-e Reshteh is an art form. Remember our kabob night? This particular picture shows my mother-in-law’s awesome handiwork and talent at garnishing meals.
Me? I’m not so patient when it comes to decorating cakes or soups, I guess. But, hey. It’s still delicious!
Want to learn more about Norouz and the Persian New Year? I have put together an ebook that has all the history, traditions and recipes of Norouz, in a beautifully photographed ebook. And it’s only $1.99! Learn more here!
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 3/4 cup chopped green onions
- 2 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
- 5 cup vegetable stock
- 6 cup water
- 1/2 cup dried lentils
- 15 oz canned kidney beans, drained of liquid
- 15 oz canned navy beans, drained of liquid
- 15 oz canned garbanzo beans, drained of liquid
- 4 oz dried reshteh or linguini
- 1 onion, sliced thinly (for garnish)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 3/4 cup kashk or sour cream
- 1/4 tsp ground saffron, dissolved in 1 TBS hot water
- Heat a large stock pot on medium and add 2 TBS oil.
- When oil is hot, add chopped onions.
- Season onions with salt, turmeric and pepper.
- When onions start to soften approximately 5-7 minutes, add parsley, green onions and spinach.
- Cook vegetable for 5 more minutes then add vegetable stock, water and lentils.
- Bring to a boil, then cover pot and simmer for 40 minutes.
- Add in canned beans.
- Stir in linguine.
- Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.
- In the meantime, prepare the garnish by heating a small frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 TBS oil to the hot pan then sliced onions.
- Cook until onions start to brown and caramelize, reducing heat to medium-low to prevent burning. This can take up to 30 minutes.
- Stir garlic in with the onions.
- Cook for 2 minutes and remove pan from heat.
- Stir in dried mint.
- Prior to serving soup, whisk 1/4 cup of soup broth with 1/2 cup kashk or sour cream.
- Stir mixture back into the soup pot.
- Garnish soup with mint mixture and/or 1/4 cup kashk/sour cream and saffron liquid.
Serving Suggestions: This is soup is traditionally made with a special egg noodle that resembles Italian linguine. As "reshteh" is only found in Middle-Eastern stores (pictured above), linguine is substituted in this recipe.
Cooking Tips: 1/2 cup of kashk can substituted with 1/2 cup of sour cream or 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. To reduce the amount of gas produced by canned beans, you can also soak the canned beans in water for 1-2 hours prior to cooking.
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Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 1281mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 15gSugar: 8gProtein: 16g