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!

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Comments

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

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

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

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.

Saskia

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 ;)

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

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 :)

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.

zoha

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

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

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!

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!

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.

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.

heather

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!

Amy Selwyn

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.

Shilpa

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

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 .

Gulnefer

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.

Linda

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