Ash-e Mast - Hearty Persian Yogurt Soup

This is a fabulous recipe from Azarbaijan, the north western region of Iran, and it somehow found its way into our home. Ash-e mast is a warm and cozy soup perfect for chilly winter days or even hot summer days. This healthy soup is filled with rice, chickpeas, a mix of fresh herbs, yogurt and small meatballs, topped with sauteed onion/garlic and mint. The addition of yogurt during cooking gives a pleasant sour taste to the soup and a creamy rich texture. Yogurt has a special place in Iranian cooking, there's usually a bowl of our popular yogurt side-dish (mast-o-khiar) or just plain yogurt served along with lunch and dinner.


I am a big fan of all soups, light or hearty, and they are healthy and relatively easy to make. In Persian cooking the main herbs for any kind of ash usually consists of one or more of the following: flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, dill, chives/leeks/scallion (tareh), spinach and  beetroot leaves (barg-e choghondar). I think any combination of these herbs with any kind of beans, some noodles, and just a dollop of yogurt on top, makes a great soup! That was all I'd like to eat after a long day of work and train commute when I was expecting my second child some years ago.



My youngest brother who still lives in Iran, told me of his recent travel to Sareyn, Azarbaijan where there are mineral water hot baths everywhere that can ease any ailment. He said his chronic foot pain had gone away after this trip! He told me about the fresh air, Sabalan honey, Lighvan cheese (feta cheese), the best milk and yogurt. Hopefully, one day I can come with my family and all of us together may travel to the region and enjoy the beautiful nature.


Ash-e Mast - Hearty Persian Yogurt Soup

Ingredients:
Serves 6

1/2 cup rice, rinse
1/2 cup chickpeas, rinse, soak in water overnight, drain and rinse before cooking. You may substitute yellow split peas (lapeh)
1 cup plain yogurt at room temperature
1/2 cup dill, washed, chopped
1/2 cup scallion (green parts), washed, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, washed, chopped
1/3 cup mint, washed, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, washed, chopped
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Water

 For Meatballs:

1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste

For Topping:

1 large onion, thinly sliced
4-5 garlic-cloves,chopped
2-3 tablespoons mint, fresh (chopped) or dried
Vegetable oil

Method:
  1. In a skillet melt butter and saute onion until golden brown. Add turmeric, stir well and continue sauteing for another 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Set aside to cool.  
  2. In a bowl combine beef, onion, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hand and shape into tiny balls. Set aside.
  3. In a large soup pot place chickpeas and add 6-8 cups of water, bring to a boil on medium heat. Lower the heat and cook until chickpeas are soft and tender.
  4. Add rice and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Gently add the meatballs into the pot and add the seasoning.
  6. Add the vegetables and stir well for a minute and cook for another 20 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of yogurt and 1-2 tablespoons of flour.
  8. Combine the egg mixture with the remaining yogurt and mix thoroughly.
  9. Add the yogurt to the soup, stir well and cook on low heat for 30-40 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  10. For the topping, heat oil in a small pan, saute onion until golden brown on medium heat, add garlic and mint, saute for another 2-3 minutes. Careful, garlic burns easily!
To serve, ladle the soup into a deep serving dish and garnish with the fried onion mixture.

Enjoy!                        

24 comments:

  1. When I read the name of the post I was thinking it is Indian Kadhi - the warm yogurt soup:-) This is wonderful! and hearty and so fulfilling.

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  2. These are beautiful photos!! I'm going to have to keep this one.

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  3. I love Azeri's food. My good friends are from Baku, so I am familiar with their cuisine. They remind me a lot of Iranian food, and I can understand why. Thanks for sharing Azita.

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  4. This was such a heartwarming post, Azita joon. thank you. We just had a blizzard in Montreal and I'd been craving a nice, hot bowl of soup all day. Perfect timing on the recipe posting! :)

    Best wishes,
    Azarakhsh

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  5. What a delicious soup! I'm going to have to try this. The photos are absolutely lovely.

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  6. I really enjoy your blog! I was wondering what kind of yogurt you use. Does it need to be full fat to avoid curdling when heated? I usually keep lowfat Greek yogurt on hand, but I'm not sure it would work in this recipe.

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  7. Welcome, I always use low-fat plain yogurt and to prevent curdling just follow the steps 7-9 in the recipe. Let me know how it turns out! Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  8. Thanks for the clarification, Azita! I've bookmarked a few of your recipes.

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  9. Hello Azita! I recently came across your blog and was amazed at the wealth of information, tips and stories you have shared. I read through *all* the entries! I'd never previously made Persian food and I already tried out two of your recipes. My husband and I both couldn't stop eating. I guess I have a lot of catching up to do - I've made a long list of the recipes I want to try next from your blog.

    Thanks so much!

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  10. Anonymous, I'm so glad that you find this blog useful! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!
    Best wishes,
    Azita

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  11. Azita

    I was not familiar with this soup, but would love to taste it. The pictures are beautiful and remind me of a beautiful land that I have left behind.

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  12. ah, Azita joon, a similar Afghan soup has been on my list since ages, but i am really scared to photograph it! yours looks absolutely beautiful! i so wish i could go to Azerbaijan region (so happy for your brother and his chronic pain alleviation, mashallah), i have heard so much about it. my friend Bahareh and i are going to travel to Iran soon, in the next year or so- it'll be a dream. have a wonderful weekend. x shayma

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  13. I made this soup yesterday, and it is delicious! It took me about 2 hours, but it was mostly waiting time (chickpeas and simmering). Perfect for the snow and -10 C = 14 F we have in Stockholm right now.

    I especially loved the proportions of liquid to chickpeas and rice to meat. I find that rather difficult in other recipes: either too thick or too watery, but not here. And I like to see soups that don't require consomme for a change.

    Herbs were fantastic. By the way, Azita, any opinion on fresh vs frozen vs dried herbs? My Iranian friend gave me the tip to use frozen as it may be difficult to find larger quantities of fresh herbs. I was quite pleased with the result this time.

    Love your blog. It's a real source of inspiration and knowledge, especially for a Persian food enthusiast. Great food pictures too! Thanks a lot!

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  14. Sharon, I'm so glad you enjoyed this soup! Thank you very much for your kind words! I appreciate your comment. I always try to use fresh herbs, but that's not always possible. I use frozen or dried herbs when fresh is not available. Thanks for visiting.
    Best wishes,

    Azita

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  15. You have another fan of soups online! This one looks fantastic! I have never tried warm yogurt soup, sounds like a bowl of goodness.

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  16. Hi Azita,
    Your blog was a delicious and surprising find :). enjoyed trawling through it.
    This soup looks lovely but I am vegetarian. Do you think it can be made without the meatballs?
    Thanks,
    Saumya .

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  17. Anonymous, thanks so much for your kind words and for visiting my blog! Yes, this soup would be tasty even without the meatballs.

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  18. I tried out this recipe last night and it was heavenly! I only wished that the meatballs stayed in tact, but nevertheless it was very tasty.

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  19. I just love this blog. Thanks for sharing

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  20. Azita - My Iranian wife just made me this Ash and wow what a dish! Thank you so much for sharing! We are both very excited to have found your blog.....

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    1. I am so glad you and your wife enjoyed this dish! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
      Azita

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  21. The ash looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe, Azita!

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  22. I've tried it without the meatballs, just to make it vegetarian and it turned out very delicious!
    Thanks a lot Azita jun for sharing these wonderful recipes with us :)

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    Replies
    1. Mahta, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!

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