Earth Day is just around the corner, and Chef Louisa Shafia, author of Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life , which I reviewed last week, has generously provided a seasonal recipe for “Ash-e-reshteh, a Persian New Year’s Soup with Beans, Noodles, and Herbs.” You can find the fresh ingredients at your nearest farmers market – check GrowNYC for a listing of locations and dates for all the markets around the city. As for the spices, which you can get at your local grocery store or herb shop, just remember how far they’ve traveled to get here, and enjoy every bite!
Ash-e-reshteh – Persian New Year’s Soup with Beans, Noodles, and Herbs
This countrified soup is often served in late March for Norooz, the Persian new year. With beans, vegetables, noodles, and yogurt, it is a meal in itself. If you can’t find fava beans, use limas. Start this recipe the night before to soak the chickpeas, kidneys beans, and fava beans. Boil them in a pot with four cups of water for one minute, then turn off the heat and add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Cover the pot and let them soak overnight. Serves 6 to 8
1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover
1/4 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
1/2 cup dried fava beans, soaked overnight in water to cover, or 11/2 cups frozen lima beans
3 yellow onions
7 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup dried lentils
14 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 large handful fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
6 ounces thin egg noodles or linguine, broken into thirds
1 bunch leafy greens, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill leaves, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
2 cups plain yogurt
Dice 1 of the onions. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, kidney beans, and fava beans, and add them to the onion along with 4 of the minced cloves of garlic, the turmeric, and lentils. Sauté for 1 minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Boil the beans, covered, for 1 hour. Tilt the lid so the pot is partially covered and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 11/2 hours. Season with salt.
Slice the remaining 2 onions into thin half moons. Heat a sauté pan over high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and fry, stirring frequently, until the onions are brown and caramelized. Add the remaining garlic and the mint and sauté for 1 minute. Season with salt and set aside.
Add the noodles to the soup and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. When the noodles are almost done, add the leafy greens and the fresh herbs and cook for 2 minutes.
Serve with a large dollop of yogurt and a few tablespoons of the sautéed onion mixture.
(Reprinted with permission from Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life by Louisa Shafia, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Jennifer Martiné © 2009)