Persian Yogurt Soup

Persian Yogurt Soup Recipe


This soup is a test of patience and restraint. If you're easily distracted, skip it. If you can mind a pot, stirring, singularly-focused, for a half hour, perhaps longer, you'll be rewarded with a beautiful, herbed, Persian yogurt soup, Ashe Mast. This is a vegetarian version - chickpeas, lentils, brown rice, and herbs bathed in thin, savory yogurt broth. Each bowl is finished with a drizzle of minted garlic butter. Lately, I've been browsing my old cookbooks late at night, I used Maideh Mazdeh's Ashe Mast recipe, from In a Persian Kitchen, as a jumping off point here. Her cooking technique requires babying the broth throughout the cooking process, you don't want the yogurt to curdle or break - which means, you can't let the mixture get too hot. Things can go downhill fast if you're not mindful. That said, I'd like to encourage those of you who are game for a bit of a challenge, to take a deep breath, step up to the stove, and stay there with this beautiful yogurt broth until it thickens and let's you know it's ready. And now that I've cooked this a few times, I have some thoughts and shortcuts I'll note below.

Iranian Yogurt SoupIranian Yogurt SoupIranian Yogurt Soup

Before I get into some of the soup-making strategy down below, I wanted to share a few snapshots. The book itself is a beautiful object. In a Persian Kitchen was printed in 1960 in Tokyo by the Charles E. Tuttle Company of Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan. Jacket Design by M. Kuwata. It sold in the U.S. for $3.25. Charles E. Tuttle's is the subject of what might be the best line in any obituary I've read. "He was a learned bibliophile and scholar of American and Japanese literature, a successful businessman, a genuine and generous friend, and a loving husband to his wife of 42 years, Reiko Chiba Tuttle. He was also a prodigious drinker, and was not infrequently tossed out of, and off, bars and restaurants, golf courses and tennis courts, on six continents - unabashedly, and not without some elan, one might add."

Iranian Yogurt Soup

The soup. Make note of the shortcuts I've outlined (below) in the recipe head notes. If you have pre-cooked rice, or beans, or lentils, you can simply focus on the broth. Part of the challenge of Maideh Mazdeh's version of Ashe Mast is that you're waiting for the rice to thoroughly cook through IN the yogurt broth. This takes a stretch, particularly when you're concerned about breaking the broth. I've seen versions where the yogurt is added to a sub-simmering soup at the last minute, but I'm on board with this version for now, I think there is something to the long simmer, with the shallots, that rounds out the yogurt tang nicely. I mention below to use full-fat yogurt because it's more stable. Aside from that, to the handful of you who might brave this ;) let me know how it goes!

Holiday Event: Just a heads up, I'll be at the Remodelista Holiday Market at Heath Ceramics in San Francisco this Saturday, December 14 from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If last year was any indicator, it will be another fantastic gathering of some of my favorite artisan producers and designers & some A+ holiday shopping. I'll have pre-signed copies of Super Natural Everyday available, and I'm also happy to sign books you already own. We're bringing a selection of items from QUITOKEETO as well. Hope to see many of you there. xo -h

 
 
 
 

Persian Yogurt Soup - Ashe Mast

HS: You can use yellow split peas here (traditional), although Umbrian or lentils du Puys are great if those are easier to come by. Shortcut: This soup comes together MUCH more quickly if you have pre-cooked brown rice, lentils, etc. on hand....you can patiently make the yogurt broth base, and then warm these ingredients in the final stages with the herbs and onions.

1 small onion or 6 peeled shallots, grated on box grater
4 cups FULL FAT plain yogurt, room temperature
1/2 cup brown rice, well rinsed
1/2 cup yellow split peas, well rinsed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon flour or organic cornstarch
4 1/2 cups barely warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup chopped dill or fennel fronds
2 cups cooked chickpeas, or more to your liking

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried mint
generous pinch of salt
toasted sesame seeds

Prep all your ingredients before starting. Because if you don't, you'll be chopping them, you'll forget to stir the soup, and you'll likely have to figure out a plan B for dinner.

Use your thickest-bottomed soup pot or casserole here. A large one. This will help keep the heat even and steady. Thin pans will make this tricky. To the cold pan add the shallots, yogurt, rice, split peas, egg, and flour. Stir until well combined and uniform. Stir in the water and cook over low-medium heat. You want to very slowly bring the mixture just a hint shy of a simmer - this should take at least 20 minutes. It should thicken a bit at this point. Keep it here, barely any bubbling, stirring, stirring until the rice is cooked through. See my headnote for the shortcut version. If you had pre-cooked rice/pulses, you could simply stir them in at this point. If not, this will take a while. When the rice and lentils are cooked through, stir in the salt, pepper, 1/2 cup of the green onions, parsley, dill, and chickpeas. Stirring, stirring, all the while. You want the chickpeas to heat through completely. Remove from heat. Taste and add more salt if needed, if you don't get the seasoning right, the soup will taste flat.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the garlic, mint, and salt, and sauté until the garlic softens a bit, barely a minute. Remove from heat.

Serve each bowl of soup with a drizzle of the mint butter, a sprinkling of green onions, and a few sesame seeds.

Leftover tip: thin with barely warm water, warm slowly, over very gentle heat.

Serves 6-8.

Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 60 min

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Your Comments


I have never seen yogurt used in soup like this before. I may have to try my hand at making some.

 

phi @PrincessTofu
December 8, 2013

What a lovely book! I love the idea of babying a broth for soup - it's so cold in SF right now, the idea of hovering over warm liquids has more appeal than practically everything.

Indeed, it feels like the outdoors indoors here right now :/ Bundle up!

 

Jennifer @ Delicieux
December 8, 2013

I've never heard of yoghurt soup before, but it looks fantastic. I always have an abundance of homemade yoghurt and this looks like the perfect thing to make with it. Bookmarking it for next winter here in Australia. :)

 

Lisa Weiblen
December 8, 2013

I have made a similar Turkish soup. I lived in Iran as a child so I look forward to trying this though I may use chicken stock.

 

Mike
December 9, 2013

I'm a huge fan of Persian cooking. One of my best friend's mum is originally from Persia and she cooks the most delicious meals all around the clock. Her culinary masterpieces are truly a treat.
Unfortunately she's not eager to share her kitchen secrets; so I guess I'll have to buy me that cookbook and start from there if I want to master Persian cooking! :)

 

Skye
December 9, 2013

This sounds sublime. Comforting and exotic all at the same time. Will have to try and make it soon - sounds perfect for cold winter days...

 

Taya
December 9, 2013

I remember selling this lovely book at my shop Cookbook Corner in the '80s. I never noticed this soup, but it looks wonderful. Charles Tuttle's books were always unique.
Thanks for the memories.

 

Lindsey
December 9, 2013

Any thoughts on how to make a dairy free version of this soup? Full fat coconut milk or soy yogurt instead? Thanks Heidi!

 

Bev @ Bev Cooks
December 9, 2013

Ooooo I have to try this! Looks so soothing. And creamy. And it needs my face in it.

 

Tami in Ruidoso
December 9, 2013

I was thrilled to see that special book! I found a first edition several years ago in a Houston used book store. I made several recipes from it, wrote my comments in the margins, then put it on the shelf. I gave it to my niece, who is half Persian (Iranian) for her birthday the year she and her husband bought her first house, along with other Persian objects I collected through my travels. Now Heidi, you make me want to find another copy of "In A Persian Kitchen"!

 

jamie @ arugulaholic
December 9, 2013

This looks beyond delicious.

 

Jessica
December 9, 2013

Looks delicious! Can it be reheated the day after (either microwave or stovetop) or would that curdle it after the fact?


HS: Hi Jessica - I've had no problems reheating, but I do it exceptionally slowly, stirring a lot.

 

Dana
December 9, 2013

Hi Heidi - This soup looks delightful. Do you think cooking the rice in the yogurt broth thickens the soup with it's starch? I wonder if I cooked the rice separately that the soup would be thinner than intended.

Indeed! But when I made it with pre-cooked rice it was also a nice texture, tasty, and a less intensive cooking process...

 

kb in to
December 9, 2013

Heidi I've been reading your blog for years ... less patience testing recipes and more quick, easy and creative vegetarian recipes. I'm slurping down a bowl of your ribollita right now - more like that please!

Thanks for the note KB - I definitely like to throw in a challenge here and there, it's part of what I enjoy in my own kitchen....love the ribollita, there are a bunch of other more approachable soups in the soup archives as well. Was thinking of doing a winter minestrone as well...xo

 

Kristin Nicole
December 9, 2013

Heidi, This soup looks fabulous. I have never tried persian food, but this looks refreshing and comforting at the same time. I can't wait to try this recipe.

Thank you

 

Ami Parikh
December 9, 2013

Hi. Do you think it would change things terribly if I skipped the egg? I am a vegetarian. Are there any substitutes I could use?


HS: Hi Ami - I think the egg helps stabilize the yogurt in an important way. I'd personally be nervous about leaving it out....I am imagining a coconut milk version of this could be quirky/interesting (and completely different)...perhaps that's a direction to explore?

 

Olga@Delicious Istanbul
December 9, 2013

Heidi, the book sounds like such a find! I'm delighted to see you introducing your readers for this soup - from my experience yogurt soups take an adventurous eater (unless you grew up eating plain yogurt). In Turkey these soups are a staple (possible Persian influences on the Ottoman cuisine), however we do not baby them for 30 min. Instead, we temper the stock with rice with the yogurt, flour and egg mix (e.g. this recipe http://www.deliciousistanbul.com/blog/2012/08/09/turkish-yogurt-soup/) and then let the soup thicken stirring only now and then.

 

Kristin
December 9, 2013

This soup looks worth every second of hovering that it requires. I've had my eye on several yogurt soups but have yet to try one...this may be the one! I noticed someone earlier asked about making a vegan version. I make my own kefir and occasionally make a coconut kefir (with the richest coconut milk I can find, usually Maeploy). It comes out as thick as Greek yogurt and with all the tang. There is still the essence of coconut flavor, but the tang is foremost and it is delicious. Might be worth a try!

 

mauigirlcooks
December 9, 2013

These flavors are right up my alley & I can't wait to this recipe! This soup sounds outstanding. Thanks for sharing!!

 

DessertForTwo
December 9, 2013

I made a yogurt broth soup with saffron and chickpeas from your latest book, and it was awesome! I'm inspired to try this new yogurt soup :)

 

Linda
December 9, 2013

What a great post: a wonderful sounding recipe and a beautiful book accompanied with a bio. I read 101 cookbooks faithfully but especially loved today's post.

 

Gulnefer
December 9, 2013

Another delicious recipe for youghurt soup from Pakistan
In a large pot put
I L butter milk
1L +1 cup water
1 cup gram flour
Mix togethe v thoroughly
Add
Salt & chillies acc. to taste
1 tsp turmeric
I tbs cumin
1 tbs mustard paste
Green chillies whole
1 onion cut in rings
2 to 3 tbs lemon juice or acc to taste
Inst
Cook on a med flame till it comes to a boil
Keep stirring during this time otherwise it will curdle
Once it comes to a boil , lower the flame & leave it to cook for atleast 1/2 an hour or until lit thickens IMP .do stir every 5- 10 min scraping the bottom of the pan
When ready serve with chopped coriander & rice .

 

dishing up the dirt
December 9, 2013

What a beautiful soup. I find comfort in standing at the stove for hours on end so this is right up my ally!

 

Shilpa
December 9, 2013

Oh Heidi, This soup looks so comforting. I am just going through Louisa's new book, New Persian Kitchen and loving the flavour combinations. This soup is the perfect winter soup and cannot wait to try it sometime during this upcoming very cold week.

 

Amy Selwyn
December 9, 2013

I make a wonderful Turkish yoghurt soup. It is flavorful and delicious. I just made this recipe and it is so bland and boring I can't believe it. Definitely not going to make this again, sadly.


HS: Post a link Amy! Would love to see the Turkish version. I suspect if this soup tasted bland to you, perhaps your seasoning was short - particularly the salt. It needs the right amount of salt to pull everything together, and that definitely varies from pot to pot. Would love to know more about the soup you are excited about though!

 

heather
December 9, 2013

Heidi~ First - just have to say, I am a Heather and my sister is a Heidi...so not only have been hooked on your sight since viewing first about 4 years ago, but love your names(!). : ) This recipe made me clap when I saw it and I can't wait to try it, for so many reasons. Wondering if you have ever heard of/tried 'kishk'? Another middle eastern warm, yogurt soup/stew, but the yogurt is dried and mixed with bulgur wheat. Generally it's made with meat, but is also wonderful just with sauteed garlic (and maybe other veggies, too). -h.

 

The Wimpy Vegetarian
December 9, 2013

What a lovely book. It's so elegant and simple. And this recipe seems a perfect balance of this and rustic pleasure. I'm thinking of making it for dinner tonight. Off to see if I have everything for it now.

 

Shikha @ Shikha la mode
December 9, 2013

I love how you highlighted full fat - it must make a difference. I usually buy pre-cooked chickpeas, so I think this soup is a definite yes!

 

meg
December 9, 2013

This looks and sounds wonderful. With this freezing weather we've been having lately in the PNW, soup has been on my mind something fierce. It almost sounds like an Indian buttermilk soup I made a while back. The tanginess of the buttermilk was such an unexpected and delicious surprise. Definitely plan to try this soon!

 

Jaclin
December 9, 2013

The mint butter drizzle is such a wonderful Turkiish soup flourish. I make a red lentil soup that also uses it as a finish. Once I tried to make it with fresh mint, thinking that fresh is always better. It was awful! One of those rare recipes where dried mint is crucial to the final results. This soup looks lovely with it's green garnish also.

 

Jaclin
December 9, 2013

The mint butter drizzle is such a wonderful Turkiish soup flourish. I make a red lentil soup that also uses it as a finish. Once I tried to make it with fresh mint, thinking that fresh is always better. It was awful! One of those rare recipes where dried mint is crucial to the final results. This soup looks lovely with it's green garnish also.

 

zoha
December 9, 2013

hi, I've been try this soup (Ash) and it's very delicious.
and I should said that I'm in love with your book.
thanks for your blog.

 

The Wimpy Vegetarian
December 9, 2013

Made this for dinner tonight and loved it. Even my husband who thinks a dish isn't quite right without meat kept saying how much he liked it. I made a few changes like sauteeing the grated onions, rice and lentil for awhile, and added the mint garlic butter to the whole pot. But no major changes. I'll be making this one again! Thanks!!


HS: So happy you liked it! And yeah, I think it's the sort of soup that lends itself nicely to personal tweaks and preferences :)

 

Francesca
December 9, 2013

This soup looks good but I really like the idea of the mint butter- and am thinking of other ways to use it.

 

Katie @ Whole Nourishment
December 9, 2013

Oh my goodness, this looks incredible and right up my alley with the flavors and combination of grains used. I would say I am better focusing on one thing at a time than multi-tasking, so I will be trying this out over the holidays and will report back! Thanks for another marvelous recipe, Heidi. Just made your millet muffins, yet again. Everyone really enjoys them!


HS: Thanks Katie! The millet muffins are a good way to keep your kitchen cozy this time of year ;)

 

Saskia
December 10, 2013

Sounds lovely, I've been meaning to try making a middle eastern yoghurt soup for ages so might try this one! One question though - is the garlic supposed to be chopped or left as whole cloves? I'm guessing chopped though it isn't clear from the recipe.


HS: Indeed Saskia! - finely chopped.

 

Nuts about food
December 10, 2013

I am intrigued by this soup and enamoured with that book. How beautiful! I will definitely try this.

 

Trisha
December 10, 2013

I am trying to get more into cooking middle eastern food - this recipe looks perfect. x

 

tom
December 10, 2013

Beautiful photos. I love the idea of exploring recipes in older cookbooks. Great job.

 

What an interesting soup and absolutely gorgeous old cookbook!

 

Holly
December 10, 2013

As a serious foodie, I have always suspected that Persian food may very well be the world's most scrumptious cuisine, so I made your soup but with the meatballs as is called for in the original recipe. It turned out like a dream. Seconds and thirds were had by all, and the bowls were licked clean to where they looked like they came clean right out of the dishwasher! ;o)
Thank you for this culinary adventure!

 

Foodess
December 10, 2013

Hooray! The recipe I've been looking for for years! I have a good who is Persian and made this soup for a party and it was divine, but she didn't know the English names of any ingredients. Definitely going to try it, with your shortcuts.

 

Emma Galloway
December 10, 2013

Love the sound of this soup Heidi. I'll have to bookmark it for next winter here in Aussie though, it's hitting 40C (104F) this weekend! Happy holidays to you love, all the best xxx

 

Justina
December 11, 2013

This looks amazing!

I love your old cookbook. I too read cookbooks late at night, usually when I can't sleep.

 

Coco in the Kitchen
December 11, 2013

This is such a soothing soup, great served cold or hot.
It's nice to see it appreciated!

 

Kathy Manelis
December 15, 2013

I've owned this cookbook for years and years. It was the first Persian cookbook I bought (I now own 3). I never tried the soups and, after reading this, I have to try some!

 

Guinnah
December 15, 2013

Heidi - I made this last night, it was delicious. I overlooked the directions to grate the onions so they were finely chopped but no matter. My husband is from Iran and while there are many Persian recipes I have mastered I've left the soups to my MIL. No more! We loved this and all the familiar flavors.
p.s. that obit line - epic!

 

Vanessa
December 17, 2013

Oh my god I just made this! I didn't think I could do it but its perfect and tasty. Yes, lots...LOTS of patience. Thanks for posting this recipe!


HS: Yay! Love hearing it... :) I thought it was worth it too.

 

Sarah Schmidt
December 18, 2013

Do you think this recipe could work in a slow cooker on low?


HS: I haven't tried it Sarah - but let me know if you give it a go!

 

semra
December 19, 2013

Hi Heidi and everyone:))

I am of Turkish origin, my grandparents are from Anatolia. We make a similar yogurt soup with pearl barley , chick peas and white beans and at the end sprinkle it with a touch of dry mint. Love. Semra from Germany

 

Goldberry
December 21, 2013

This was so wonderful that I've already made it twice in one week... thank you so much.

For those who were wondering: the second time, I left out the egg, but increased the flour (I used rice flour) to 1/4 cup... and it thickened perfectly. So making this recipe egg-free seems to work fine.


HS: Thanks for reporting back Goldberry! Happy holidays.

 

Trine
December 22, 2013

wauw, this looks amazing. I love yoghurt, chickpeas and in general middle eastern food, so I have to try this. Thanks!

 

KolayYemek Tarifleri
December 26, 2013

Different versions of this soup are very popular in some regions of Turkey. Hot form of it is usually preferred in winter.
http://www.kolaylezzet.com/kolay-yemek-tarifleri/çorbalar/434-sicak-ayran-aşi-çorbasi-erzurum.html
Cold form of it is prepared in summer. Thank you for introducing this soup.

 

Katie @ Whole Nourishment
December 28, 2013

I made the soup tonight for my extended family and everybody loved it! It was flavorful without being loud and such a welcome change for the palette after heavy holiday meals. Highly suggest cooking the grains ahead, as you suggest, and then the soup comes together in 30 minutes. Also, avocado would be another delicious topping. Thanks again Heidi!

 

M
December 29, 2013

Thanks Heidi - it's made my day seeing a different version of Ash e mast ... And especially the detail on Mr Tuttle (having read many of his books). I would also recommend the recipe for this soup published by Najmieh Batmanglij...

 

Ali @ Foodpix
December 29, 2013

I am a food photographer from Persia, living in Vancouver Canada. This recipe is very popular in some northern provinces of Iran. I like the recipe and photos. Nice.

 

Kpks
December 29, 2013

Awesome recipe! I think brown basmati and orange lentils ( masoor dal) shd speed up the cooking process. Today I made it with per cooked everything.
Thanks again for your wonderful website!

 

robin
December 31, 2013

This is a very tasty soup which is also very tasty as a cold soup eaten in summertime it is very fresh, try it! I put barley instead of rice which is also very good.