In a spontaneous attempt to “celebrate” the Persian New Year, Nowruz, on the night of March 20, I decided to ditch my meal plans for the middle of the week and scrambled to get a few missing ingredients for Aash-e-reshteh, or Persian noodle soup, a much-loved soup often served at Nowruz (but not just for Nowruz). I was inspired by a post on Facebook by an Iranian-American friend about some Nowruz traditions; I saw “noodle soup” and did some quick searching on the internet, which turned up this recipe.
I asked my friend if I should make it and of course she encouraged me. I had to change a few things, though: I decided to substitute Greek-style yogurt for the whey/sour cream and I wasn’t able to find dried mint, so I got some fresh mint.
This soup, and perhaps all Persian cooking, is an exercise in patience. My first night of cooking (yes, I said first night of cooking) I got discouraged and thought I was going to dump the whole pot. It was taking too long to cook AND the yogurt curdled at first (dumb me, I should have known). While it was taking too long to cook, I read some things on the internet that made me paranoid about the kidney beans: if dried kidney beans are not cooked properly, THEY CAN BE TOXIC! I never knew that. Well, the Mister told me food poisoning was worth the risk, so let’s not dump it just yet.
I gave up cooking for the night. I put the soup in my largest container and put it away in the refrigerator. I posted my discouragement on Facebook. My friend told me It will be so much better tomorrow, trust me…
I’m glad I trusted her and that the Mister is willing to risk food poisoning. This Aash is amazing. The next night, March 21, I reheated it gently for about an hour. While it heated, I prepared the garnish. I didn’t follow the recipe’s instructions exactly. I left out the turmeric. I sliced some onion and put that to fry up in some olive oil; as it began to brown, I added chopped garlic. As those began to caramelize, I added some chopped fresh mint. I only left it in the pan for a minute or so, maybe less (sorry I can’t remember). I removed it from the heat and put it in a little dish. I ladled the soup into two bowls, scooped two generous spoonfuls of yogurt on each, and then spooned some of the garnish onto the yogurt and drizzled oil around the soup.
And then we ate it. I was astounded. I felt a little giddy about how well it turned out. This was my first attempt at Persian cooking and I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m excited to try more Persian dishes, but this time I won’t necessarily expect to eat it the same night.
Oh, and um, apologies for not having a very good picture…I’m working on it…the photography aspect of this medium, that is. I don’t think the camera on my phone is going to cut it. Time to haul out the big guns… 🙂