|ash-e-reshteh - persian bean and noodle soup|
According to The Oxford Companion to Food, (which has to be the most enjoyable encyclopaedia I have ever read, both informative, witty and at times even a little quirky), the word "reshteh" is a Persian word means a thread or string, which is why it is so often associated with very fine pasta or noodles in Middle Eastern recipes.
The OCtF goes on to say:
"Claudia Roden (1985) writing about the present role of reshteh in the Middle East, remarks that, "like rice, it has escaped the stigma of being a filling dish for the poor." Indeed although a common dish in the Arab world, it is considered suitable for special occasions.The OCtF continues:
Reshteh has more than one special significance in Iran. Margaret Shaida (1992) gives an example:I love the idea that it is a pilgrim soup as well as one that can be eaten all year around. In fact you don't really need an excuse. It really is delicious.
Dishes containing noodles are traditionally prepared at times of decision or changes so that the "reins 9of life) may be taken in hand" and the future given directions. Reshteh polow is often served on the eve of the New Year [Persian New Year - 21 March] as its threads intertwine in the same way that the family bonds are tied together.
She also explains that reshteh is also made for occasions of thanksgiving, and appears in the soup ash-e-reshteh (sometimes called ash-e-poshteh-pa or pilgrim's soup), traditionally served on the eve of departure of a loved one going on the pilgrimage to Mecca or any long journey.
Happy New Year!
Skill level: Easy
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
60g dried mung beans (moong dal), rinsed and drained
60g dried brown or red lentils, rinsed and drained
1.5 litres of water or vegetable stock
2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
250g cooked beans (I used a mixture of butterbeans, chickpeas and kidney beans)
200g spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
a handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
a handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g linguini or spaghettini pasta, snapped into 2 inch pieces
labne, kashk, Greek-style natural yoghurt or sour cream, to serve
caramelised onions, to serve
- Heat oil and gently fry onion for 10 minutes until beginning to soften. Add garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes before adding the turmeric. Stir well and cook until fragrant.
- Add 1 litre of water or vegetable stock together with the dried oregano, bay leaf, mung beans and lentils. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 1 hour (and the lentils are soft).
- Add the cooked beans and half the spinach. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the rest of the spinach and the chopped fresh herbs together with the dried pasta. Add more water if necessary. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the pasta has cooked through. Stir occasionally to ensure that the pasta doesn't clump together.
- Serve with a dollop of labne and topped with caramelised onions.
- Happy New Year!
- Personally I think this soup benefits from “resting” for a while; it really does taste better the next day.