Ash-e Goje Farangi with Koofteh Ghelgheli - Hearty Iranian Tomato Soup with Tiny Meatballs

Persian Tomato Soup

Early this summer we planted two rows of different types of tomatoes in our vegetable garden. We are so pleased with the results that we are now planning to only plant tomatoes next summer along with some basil. Tomatoes are easy to grow and are very nutritious. They turn out incredibly tasty and harvesting them is truly gratifying. There are many Iranian recipes that call for tomatoes, tomato sauce or paste. These recipes include dizi, khoresh gheymeh, khoresh bademjan, and estamboli polow and they are usually served with a side of salad shirazi: a simple salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. A ripe and juicy tomato wedge wrapped up in a warm lavash is also a great snack on any given day.


As we are nearing the end of summer, there's still time to take in the sunshine, walk on the beach, and enjoy the abundance of fresh summer produce. With tomatoes still in season it's time to make آش گوجه فرنگی Ash-e goje farangi (tomato soup). This is a very flavorful soup that can be had all year round but is especially delicious as a late summer soup. Every region of Iran has its own version of ash-e goje farangi. They may use different kinds of herbs or spices, add beans, or peas. The Khuzestani (southern-style) آش تماته ash-e tamate is hot and spicy.


Ingredients:
Serves 6

5 large tomatoes, peeled, chopped
1/2 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch chives or scallion, chopped
A handful of basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
A pinch of red pepper
Salt
Pepper
Vegetable oil/olive oil
Juice of 1 lime or 1-2 tablespoons abghooreh (verjuice), juice of sour grapes
Water

For کوفته قلقلی Koofteh Ghelgheli - Meatballs

1/2 pound ground beef or lamb
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Method:

  1. In a bowl combine beef, onion, salt and pepper and shape into mini meatballs. Place on a large plate and set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut an "x" in the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and cook for a minute or two. Remove from the pot, allow to cool and peel the skins. Chop or grate the tomatoes on a box grater. Remove the seeds if you prefer.
  3. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a pot, saute chopped onions over medium-high heat until the onions become translucent. Add turmeric, stir and add the chopped garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the rice, parsley, scallion, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and a pinch of red pepper.
  6. Add six cups of water, stir, bring to a boil, add the meatballs, reduce the heat, cover and cook over low heat for 45-50 minutes. Periodically, stir the soup and add a little water if needed.
  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add lime juice/verjuice just before serving.
Serve hot with fresh herbs and warm bread.

Note:

For a vegetarian version of this soup you can make it without the meatballs.
For a lighter soup you can reduce the amount of rice to 1/4 of a cup.
You can drizzle نعنا داغ nana dagh (fried dried mint) on top.

Enjoy!

Vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi

Ghormeh Sabzi

Over the years I have received many requests for vegetarian recipes from my readers. I was somewhat hesitant to write vegetarian recipes because I believe that Iranian cuisine is vegetarian friendly and has many vegetarian dishes. If you search my recipe index you'll see that there are many vegetarian options on my blog, such as the bean based dishes like Ash Reshteh, and the Seven-Bean Soup. There are also the vegetable based recipes such as Koo Koo Sabzi and Koo Koo Sibzamini. As for those polow and khoresh (rice and stew) recipes with meat, you can remove the meat or with a little tweaking you can easily adjust the recipes to your liking and enjoy many of the traditional Iranian meals while sticking to your vegetarian diet. Growing up in Iran, I only knew of a couple vegetarians around us. However, with the growing number of vegetarians/vegans and those cutting back on red meat (lamb, beef) for health reasons, some traditional recipes can be modified by substituting ingredients.


I'm a firm believer in maintaining and preserving the integrity of traditional Iranian food and I am always reluctant to make any drastic changes to our traditional beloved recipes. I am so grateful to those culinary magicians of the past that created many timeless recipes to be enjoyed for generations to come. I wonder, if the inventors of ghormeh sabzi or fesenjoon, had any idea that their creations would surpass time and all borders and would be enjoyed by many for years to come.


For today's recipe I decided to do my vegetarian version of this most beloved khoresh. There are a few simple options for customizing vegetarian ghormeh sabzi. The first option is to just omit the meat! The second option is to increase the amount of beans (red kidney beans or pinto beans) by 1/2 cup or more if you like. The third option is to replace the meat with tofu, tempeh or seitan. However, my choice for a قورمه سبزی گیاهی ghormeh sabzi giahi (meat-free ghormeh sabzi) is using baby bella mushrooms for their brown color and meaty texture and flavor.


Vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi

Ingredients:
Serving 4-6

1 cup dried red kidney beans or pinto beans, soaked over night
10 oz baby bella mushrooms or large portabella, trimmed and cut into chunks or sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cups chopped fresh parsley
3 cups chopped leeks, or scallions or chives (tareh)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh fenugreek or a tablespoon dried
4-5 limoo amani (dried limes)
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of a lime
Vegetable oil/olive oil
Water

Method:

  1. In a large pot, add beans, cover with water by a couple of inches, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, cover, leaving the top a little ajar. Cook until beans are tender. 
  2. Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat, saute the chopped herbs for about 10-15 minutes or until their color changes. Stir frequently. Set aside.
  3.  In a large stock pot, saute the chopped onions in 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil until golden brown. Add turmeric powder. Stir well.
  4. Add the sauteed herbs, cooked beans, dried limes, salt and pepper to the pot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat. Cover and cook on low setting for about an hour.
  5. In the meantime in a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they have released most of their liquid. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, place in a bowl and sprinkle with lime juice.
  6. Add the mushrooms to the pot, cook for another 15-20 minutes on low heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add a little more water if needed.
Serve up the khoresh in a large bowl with rice, mast o khiar and salad shirazi.

Enjoy!

Celebration and Traditions of Nowruz - The Seven S's of Sofreh-ye Haft Seen -1396

HaftSeen

نرم نرمک میرسد اینک بهار
خوش به حال روزگار
ای دریغ از تو اگر چون گل نرقصی با نسیم
ای دریغ از من اگر مستم نسازد آفتاب
ای دریغ از ما اگر کامی نگیریم از بهار

~فریدون مشیری


نوروز Nowruz (New Day), the traditional 13-day Iranian celebration of the first day of spring (spring equinox), dates back to the Achaemenid Empire 6th century B.C. Nowruz is a celebration of nature and its revival and rejuvenation. The preparation for the Nowruz festival starts with خانه تکانی khaneh tekani, a thorough spring cleaning. Then there's چهار شنبه سوری Chahar Shanbeh Suri (festival of  fire) that's celebrated on the eve of the last Tuesday of the year. عید نوروز Eid-e Nowruz is a time for Iranians all across the world, as well as other neighboring countries of Iran that share this holiday, to gather together with their families and celebrate the Persian New Year.

هفت سین Haft seen spread is embedded with symbolism and each item on the سفره sofreh has a symbolic meaning. Overall, they represent life, health, prosperity, love, fertility and patience.The Seven S's of Sofreh-ye Haft Seen include the following, سبزه Sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts), سرکه Serkeh (vinegar), سماق Somagh (sumac), سیر Seer (garlic), سنجد Senjed (fruit of oleaster tree), سکه  Sekeh(coins), سمنو Samanoo (wheat pudding) and سیب Seeb (apples). Fragrant سنبل sonbol (hyacinth) as well as other fresh spring flowers such as لاله laleh (tulips) and نرگس narges (narcissus) adorn the table. Other items on the sofreh (tablecloth) include ayneh (mirror), candles, colored eggs, and gold fish. Nowruz sweets and ajil (nuts and seeds) may also be found on the sofreh. Food is a major part of the Nowruz celebration and a traditional Persian New Year feast includes fresh herbs which represent earth, nature and healthy eating. A typical Nowruz menu includes: Sabzi Polow ba MahiKookoo SabziReshteh PolowAsh ReshtehSabzi KhordanMast o Khiar and Salad Shirazi.




Nowruz Mobarak! Happy Nowruz!