Ash Anar is a hearty Persian Pomegranate Soup that will nurture your soul with spinach, yellow split peas and just a tang of pomegranate. Find more of my Persian recipes.
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 dance for this time of year.
The kids’ soup of choice is chicken noodle soup with lemon. I make this homemade treat about once a week now. But, after awhile, we crave some Persian comfort food and Persian soup.
Why you should try this recipe
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.
Ash Anar translates to ‘pomegranate soup.’ It does not contain pomegranate fruit, but the liquid concentrate. I prefer pomegranate concentrate to pomegranate molasses because it has less sugar and a lot more fruity flavor.
I just add a little bit of sugar to the soup to balance out the sourness of the pom 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.
It is super hearty and delicious. This is definitely not any ordinary soup.
Ingredients you need
- Fresh herbs: parsley and cilantro
- Basmati rice
- Yellow split peas
- Pomegranate concentrate: You can purchase pom concentrate at middle eastern stores or online. You can also make your own pomegranate molasses so you can control the amount of sugar.
- Pantry staples: Extra virgin olive oil, vegetable stock, lemon juice, granulated sugar, salt and pepper
- Pomegranate arils, (1 TBS per bowl)
1. Heat a large stock pot on medium and add olive oil. When oil is hot, sauté parsley, cilantro, leeks and spinach. Cook vegetables for 15 minutes.
2. When greens have softened, pour in vegetable stock and lemon juice. Cover pot and bring to a boil.
3. When soup is boiling, add rice and split peas. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
4. Stir in pomegranate concentrate and sugar. Cover pot and simmer for 20 more minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with pomegranate arils, if you like.
How to seed a pomegranate
I do like to garnish my ash fresh pomegranate arils. If you want to garnish your soup with fresh arils too, then you need to learn the proper way to seed a pomegranate. These wonderful fruits are available as early as August, and of course you can pay extra and buy already seeded pomegranate arils from the grocery store.
If you want to remove the arils yourself, no problem. I have written a whole post on how to see a pomegranate. It is not hard, but it is a little time consuming. You don’t need special equipment, just a sharp pairing knife and a bowl of water.
And wear dark clothes or clothes you don’t like too much. Pomegranate juice does stain!
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- ¾ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup chopped spinach
- 1 leek
- 8 cup vegetable stock
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup basmati rice
- ⅓ cup yellow split peas
- ¼ cup pomegranate concentrate *
- 2 TBS granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon 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.
Serving Size:1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 5.2gSaturated Fat: 0.9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 973mgCarbohydrates: 39.2gFiber: 4.1gSugar: 16.8gProtein: 4.6g
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