Ash Reshteh is a thick Persian noodle soup packed with a cornucopia of herbs, lentils and beans. It’s nutritious, filling, and perfect for cold winter nights.
Growing up, I could always tell when my mom was making ash. I’d come home from school and the entire kitchen would be filled with the aromatic scent of minced herbs. While making this recipe recently, I found myself fondly reminiscing about chilly afternoons spent in the living room. I’d be doing my homework and waiting for my mom to finish the Ash Reshteh so I could be the first to chow down on a bowl.
Ash (pronounced aash) is a variety of thick soup from Iran. While the word “ash” has become synonymous with the most popular variety—Ash Reshteh—there are more than 50 different types of ash in Iran.
A traditionally vegetarian dish, Ash Reshteh is hands-down the essential Persian soup. The three defining ingredients in Ash Reshteh are reshteh, kashk and herbs:
1. Reshteh is a type of noodle slightly saltier and starchier than Italian noodles. While you may be able to find reshteh at your local Middle Eastern grocery store, my mom typically made her version using spaghetti noodles. If it’s good enough for mom, it’s good enough for me.
2. Kashk is a thick drained yogurt which is saltier and more sour than your run-of-the-mill greek yogurt found in stores. For our vegan version, we swapped out the kashk with dairy-free plain yogurt and it worked like a charm.
3. Finally, as is common with many Persian staples, Ash Reshteh is jam-packed with herbs—both fresh and dry. There is a ton of cilantro, parsley and mint in this recipe, ensuring the moment you start cooking, your kitchen will smell like a Persian house the day before Nowruz.
Like most things Persian, Ash Reshteh is old. Like really, really old. I’m talking ancient. Through the centuries, cooks tinkered with the recipe until around A.D. 500, when noodles were added, resulting in something similar to what we know and love today.
- 2 14.5 oz cans lentils drained
- 2 14.5 oz cans pinto beans drained
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bunches cilantro stems removed
- 2 bunches parsley stems removed
- 10 oz baby spinach
- 1 large onion chopped
- 7 cloves garlic minced
- 8 oz spaghetti noodles broken in half
- 1 Tbsp turmeric
- 3 Tbsp dried mint
- 5 heaping Tbsp unsweetened vegan yogurt plus more to serve
- Salt to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Optional as topping
- 1/2 tsp turmeric and 2 Tbsp dried mint sautéed in 3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in sauce pan over medium heat for 10 seconds.
- Food process cilantro, parsley and spinach in batches until finely minced. Set aside. (Alternatively, you can mince herbs and spinach with a knife).
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, hit with a sprinkle of salt to draw out the moisture, and cook until golden brown.
- Add dried mint, turmeric and garlic cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add cilantro, parsley and spinach and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add beans and lentils. Then pour in enough water to cover all the ingredients by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Continue to check the water level and add enough water to keep cover ingredients, as needed.
- Add noodles and cook until they are al dente, around 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir in yogurt. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and top with more yogurt and mint oil, to serve. Enjoy!
- While you can chop the fresh herbs and spinach by hand, we recommend using a food processor to save time mincing the greens.
- If you can’t get your hands on reshteh, you can use spaghetti noodles instead.
- Make sure you sub out the kashk with plain vegan yogurt. Vanilla yogurt will throw off the taste.
- The noodles will absorb the water. So continue to add enough water to cover the soup ingredients, adjusting the seasoning as needed.