This hearty, Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash Anar) will nurture your soul with spinach, yellow split peas and just a tang of pomegranate.
When the weather turns cold, we all turn to warm foods. The cool weather comes late to San Diego, some would even say that San Diego is always cool. But despite the actual temperature outside, fall means that pomegranate season is upon us. And for my family, we always do a happy for pomegranate season.
No matter WHAT the temperature is outside, my husband and two kids could eat soup for every day of the year. Me? Not so much. My husband likes to joke that if it wasn’t for the two younger kids loving soup so much (and the veggies I cram in it!), than my hubby would never get any soup!
The kids’ soup of choice is chicken noodle soup with lemon. I make this homemade treat about once a week now. But, after awhile, my husband request soup that HE really likes, which means comfort food and Persian soup.
What is Persian Ash?
Persian soups are all called ash. Not pronounced like the ash produced in fires, but with a long ‘a’ sound in ‘all’: aash. Persian ash are some of the most nutritious soups I have ever seen. They aren’t watered down, like a can of Campbell’s soup. They are what Rachel Ray calls, “Stoups” – a cross between a stew and a soup.
Persian ash is filled herbs, spinach, vegetables and rice. Some have meat in them while most are vegetarian. And for a vegetarian soup, they are hearty, delicious and totally worth the effort to make.
About Persian Pomegranate Soup
Ash Anar translates to ‘pomegranate soup.’ It does not contain pomegranate fruit, but pomegranate concentrate. I prefer pomegranate concentrate to pomegranate molasses because it has less sugar and lots of wonderful pomegranate flavor. I just add a little bit of sugar to the soup to balance out the sourness of the pomegranate concentrate.
The vegetables in ash anar include parsley, cilantro, spinach and leeks. This version of ash anar is a vegan soup and gets its protein from yellow split peas. Some use ground beef or ground lamb, even dropping in small meatballs.
How to seed a pomegranate
I do like to garnish my pomegranate soup with fresh pomegranate arils, because, well, we love pomegranate! If you want to garnish your soup with fresh pomegranate seeds, then you need to learn the proper way to seed a pomegranate. Remember, pomegranates are available as early as August, and of course you can pay extra and buy already seeded pomegranate arils from the grocery store.
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!!
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup chopped spinach
- 1 leek
- 8 cup vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup basmati rice
- 1/3 cup yellow split peas
- 1/4 cup pomegranate concentrate *
- 2 TBS granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 6 TBS pomegranate arils, (1 TBS per bowl)
- Heat a large stock pot on medium and add olive oil.
- When oil is hot, sauté parsley, cilantro and spinach.
- Cut leek in half, lengthwise. Spread the layers of the leek open and hold them under running water to remove the sand and dirt trapped inside the leek.
- Pat leeks dry then coarsely chop and add to the mixture in the pot.
- Cook vegetables for 15 minutes.
- Pour in vegetable stock and lemon juice.
- Cover pot and bring to a boil.
- When soup is boiling, add rice and split peas.
- Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
- Stir in pomegranate concentrate and sugar.
- Cover pot and simmer for 20 more minutes.
- Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
- When ready to serve, pour soup into individual bowls and garnish with 1 TBS pomegranate arils per bowl.
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.
* You can use pomegranate molasses instead of concentrate. Just omit the sugar if using molasses as it already has sugar in it.
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Serving Size:1 bowl
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 224 Total Fat: 5.2g Saturated Fat: 0.9g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 973mg Carbohydrates: 39.2g Fiber: 4.1g Sugar: 16.8g Protein: 4.6g