I chose this particular recipe to highlight because it's rich, creamy, comforting and delicious. However, I made a few changes. The original recipe calls for small meatballs but I decided to make a vegetarian soup with lentils instead. If you prefer, you can add meatballs to the soup. The recipe also calls for either rice flour or small broken rice to reduce the cooking time and perhaps to make the texture more smooth and creamy. I used basmati rice and it turned out well. Also, since the amount of ingredients recommended in the recipe were more than what I usually make for our family of four I decided to cut down the amount of rice, herbs and sumac. Finally, I served ash-e somagh with the usual caramelized onion, garlic and mint topping.
Sumac gives this soup a subtle tangy taste. Sumac is mostly sprinkled on kabab dishes for extra flavorings. Growing up, sumac was always on the table alongside salt and pepper.
Ash-e Somagh - Herb and Sumac Soup
Recipe adapted from Noosh-e Jan Konid by Mrs. Mansoureh Amir Ebrahimi
1 cup rice, rinsed
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed
3-4 tablespoons dried sumac, soaked in 1/2 cup of cool water for an hour
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, hard stems removed
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup finely chopped fresh chives or scallions (green parts only)
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon, hard stems removed
A few sprigs of mint, washed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, cut into small pieces or thinly sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons dried mint
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Put the rice in a large stew pot, add 8 cups of water, bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the lentils, stir well, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add water if necessary. Always add hot water to the stew that's cooking on the stove. Cool water will interrupt the simmering/boiling process.
- Stir in the chopped herbs into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and let it simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes.
- You may drain sumac in a very fine mesh strainer and add the liquid into the soup as suggested in the book or pour in the soaked sumac and all liquid and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
- In the meantime, saute onions in hot oil. When golden brown, add turmeric, stir well, mix in the garlic and mint, and saute for another 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Add some of the fried onion mixture into the soup, stir well and save the rest for garnish.
* For ash-e somagh with meatballs, combine a pound of ground meat (lamb, beef or turkey), salt, pepper, a handful of chopped herbs, 1 small grated onion, one egg, 1 tablespoon of flour, mix well. Make tiny meatballs, brown on all sides in hot vegetable oil and add to the soup half way through cooking.