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 minutes - Cook time: 60 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
weeknight express

WEEKNIGHT EXPRESS features 10 Vegetarian, Plant-centric Recipes for Feel-Good Food — Fast!

Subscribe to get 32-pages of recipes to view on your tablet, e-book reader or phone.

weeknight expressweeknight express

Apologies, comments are closed.

Comments

  • 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 :)

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

    mauigirlcooks
  • 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!

    Kristin
  • 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.

    Olga@Delicious Istanbul
  • 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?

    Ami Parikh
  • 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

    Kristin Nicole
  • 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

    kb in to
  • 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...

    Dana
  • 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.

    Jessica
  • 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"!

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

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

    Lindsey
  • 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.

    Taya
  • 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...

    Skye
  • 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! :)

    Mike
  • 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.

    Lisa Weiblen
  • 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. :)

    Jennifer @ Delicieux
  • 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!

    phi @PrincessTofu
  • Comments are closed.

    Apologies, comments are closed.

    More Recipes

    Popular Ingredients