Ash-e reshteh

March 11, 2009

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Serves 10

This traditional noodle soup is made with spinach, parsley, cilantro, dill, chives, several kinds of beans, lentils, beets, and mint. You need reshteh, which are Iranian noodles, and kashk, a kind of whey sold in liquid or powdered form (both ingredients are available in specialty markets). Powdered kashk is reconstituted with hot water before being added to the soup. A good substitute for reshteh is linguine or whole-wheat noodles. Instead of kashk, use thickened yogurt, sour cream, or a mixture of sour cream and lemon juice.

4 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound stew beef, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 onions (1 finely chopped and 2 thinly sliced)
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and rinsed well, leaves chopped
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh chives
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 quart chicken stock plus 2 or 3 quarts water (or use all water)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
1 can (15 ounces) white beans, drained
2 beets, scrubbed, cooked, peeled, and cut into thick matchsticks
2 teaspoons dried mint, plus 1 additional tablespoon dried mint cooked in 2 teaspoons oil until softened
2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1 cup water
12 ounces reshteh (Iranian noodles), broken into 3-inch lengths
1 1/2 cup kashk
1/2 cup yellow lentils, cooked until tender
1. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the meat is browned. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric, turn the heat to low, and continue cooking, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the pan.

2. Wipe out the skillet and heat another 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, turn the heat to low, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the garlic browns. Remove from the skillet. Wipe out the pan and add 1 tablespoon more oil. When it is hot, add the chopped onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the onion browns.

3. In a soup pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onions soften.

4. Add the spinach, parsley, cilantro, dill, chives, and scallions. Add the broth and water, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Add the kidney beans, chickpeas, white beans, beets, and 2 teaspoons dried mint. Continue simmering for 30 minutes.

6. Stir the flour mixture into the soup and continue simmering for a few minutes or until it thickens slightly.

7. Add the reshteh and cook for 12 minutes or until the noodles are tender. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the kashk (reserve a few spoonfuls for garnish).

8. Pour the soup into a wide tureen or serving bowl. Garnish with beef, garlic, onions, sauteed mint, lentils, and reserved kashk. Adapted from Roya Touran