Aush-e-reshteh (Herb and Noodle Soup)
Metropolitan Club, San Francisco, CA
Mehrdad Dabir came to the Beard House to help us celebrate Persian New Year or Norooz, a holiday with many symbolic foods. Dabir’s menu began with this special soup. In Iran, noodles are believed to bring good fortune, and the noodles in this soup are traditionally knotted. By symbolically untying the knots (eating the soup), you are untying life’s problems. Aush means thick soup in Farsi, and such a soup is so revered in Iran that the word for chef, aush-paz, literally means one who cooks soup. The reshteh (Persian noodles) and kashk (Persian whey) can be found in specialty markets. Linguine and sour cream make fine substitutes. Fried onions and mint oil are sometimes used as garnish.
- 1 lamb shank, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 cup dried kidney beans, washed and soaked in cold water at least 2 hours, drained
- 1/4 cup dried navy beans, washed and soaked in cold water at least 2 hours, drained
- 1/4 cup dried chickpeas, washed and soaked in cold water at least 2 hours, drained
- 1/4 cup lentils
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
- 1/4 pound reshteh (Persian noodles) or linguine, broken in half
- 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped scallions
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, stems removed, rinsed well, and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup kashk (Persian whey) or sour cream, plus a dollop for garnish
Season the lamb shank generously with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, nonreactive, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Add the onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Season with additional salt, pepper, and the turmeric. Add the drained kidney beans, navy beans, and chickpeas, and sauté for an additional 3 or 4 minutes. Add 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, skim the froth that rises to the top, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes over medium heat. After 45 minutes, add the lentils and beef broth. Cover and simmer for an additional 50 minutes. You can stop here and refrigerate the soup overnight. As with most soups, it will improve after sitting for a day. Reheat the soup before adding the noodles and flour. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chopped scallions, dill, parsley, and spinach, and continue cooking for 30 minutes more, or until all of the beans are tender. Remove the lamb shank. You can pick the meat off the bones and stir it into the soup if you desire. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. More water may be added at this point if the aush is too thick. Stir in whey (or sour cream) and mix well.
10 to 12 servings