September 29, 2011

Sholeh Maash - Persian Green Mung Bean and Kohlrabi Hearty Soup

Ever since I saw the recipe for shole maash online in the 19th century Qajar Women Cookbook, I have been thinking about giving it a try. شله ماش  Sholeh Maash (mung beans with kohlrabi) makes a tasty and nutritious autumn soup. This recipe, like the others in the book, consists of a brief description of what the necessary ingredients are, and the word yek-meghdar (some) is frequently used to describe the amount needed for each ingredient. Persian cuisine is forgiving in terms of measurements and when you ask a grandmother for a recipe the answer is basically a list of the ingredients with yek-kami (a little bit) of this and yek-meghdar (some) of that and that's how I, along with many other Iranians, learned to cook. I learned that you can use a little less or a little more of most ingredients in a recipe depending on your taste and preferences. A few months into blogging I bought a food scale to measure the ingredients by weight but I have rarely used it.

Sholeh maash is not a thin and watery soup. It's a rather rich soup that can be served as a main dish. The original recipe calls for meat but I've decided that it is substantial enough without the addition of any lamb or beef.

Sholeh Maash - Persian Green Mung Bean and Kohlrabi Hearty Soup

Serves 6

1 1/2  cups green mung beans, rinse 2-3 times
1/2 cup rice, rinse well
3-4 medium-size kohlrabi, peel and cut into small cubes, leave one cubed kohlrabi for the topping
1 large bunch of fresh tareh or scallions (green parts only), washed and chopped
1 small bunch of fresh tarragon, stems removed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, diced
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 teaspoon red pepper *optional
1/3 teaspoon cumin *optional

  1. Place the beans and the rice in a large pot, add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
  2. Add the small pieces of kohlrabi, salt, pepper, cover and cook for 45 minutes on low heat.
  3. Periodically check to see if you need to add more water to the soup.
  4. Add the chopped vegetables, taste and adjust the seasoning, add more hot water if needed and let it simmer for another 15 minutes for the flavors to blend in.
  5. In the meantime, fry the sliced onions in 3-4 tablespoons of hot vegetable oil in a skillet until golden brown. Add the turmeric powder and the minced garlic to the oil, stir and saute further for another five minutes.
  6. Add a large tablespoon of the fried onion to the soup and gently mix well.
  7. Lightly fry the cubed kohlrabi in 2-3 tablespoons of hot vegetable oil until soft and golden on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt, turmeric, cumin and red pepper and stir well.
To serve ladle the soup into a soup bowl, top with the fried onions and kohlrabi. Serve hot with bread and yogurt.



  1. Azita joun, what a wonderful recipe. I have never cooked kohlrabi before. What a great combination with mung beans. I love those. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm definitely going to save this one for those chilly fall nights!

  3. I work with the Director of the online archive that posted the Qajar cookbook. I forwarded her a link to your recipe, and they posted it on their Facebook page:

  4. Visda,Belinda, thanks so much! I'm glad you liked it.

    Amyp, thank you.

  5. Thank you for this. I have had lots of iranian food, but have never eaten this before. what meat would you traditionally add to this meal? Lamb? with or without bone? Would a shoulder piece do? Would you add it to water when cooking the kohlrabi? Or would you fry it first?

    I'm a meat lover ;-)

  6. Bob and Ghazaleh, this recipe can be made with stew meat (lamb) or lamb shanks. I would fry the meat with some onions, garlic, turmeric, salt and pepper. Add some water and cook it for 40-50 minutes or until meat is somewhat tender. You can either cook the meat in a stew pot, then add all the ingredients for the soup and let them cook together. Or you can add the meat to the soup pot when you add the kohlrabi. Another option is to add tiny meatballs to the soup.

    Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know how it turns out for you.

  7. dear Azita !
    I really love your sweet openings for each recipe as much as your excellent explanations.I go to my childhood with them.can u give recipe 4 boraniye kalam ghomri? I think the main ingredients were kohrabi-kashk-berenj-lappe- oiyaz dagh &nana dagh!
    my mum made it when we were kids & as u can guess we did not appreciate that!

  8. Lovely recipe, worked well with a little citrus vinegar added at the end. Thanks!

  9. Azita Joon, I am always looking for vegetarian recipes which incorporate dahl (lentils/beans) like mung- i have never tried kohlrabi- shall try my hand at your recipe. it looks amazing, esp with the fried onions. x shayma

  10. by the way- do you use kohlrabi (or the equivalent) in Iran? x shayma

  11. Shayma joon, yes, we do use kohlrabi (kalam ghomri) in Iran and I love anything with kohlrabi. It's a great addition to soups. Thank you.x

  12. wow, an other one, great new ideas to kohlrabi, thanks for sharing

  13. Thanks for the recipe :) i am making it today! BTW, this dish is similar to indian "Kichidi" moong, rice and vegetable like carrot, radish, green beans, potato, onion are cooked together and then tampered with cumin, cashew, clarified butter. You can try it too... measurements Yek-meghdar and yek-kami :)

  14. Anonymous, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm definitely going to give your recipe a try!:)

  15. What a delicious soup! I absolutely enjoyed it, I am so glad to find your blog, thanks. Everything is perfect: the introductions,byte recipes, the photos, ah the photos are great. god bless your mom Azita joon!

    1. Thank you very much, Ra'ana jan and I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  16. Dear Azita,
    this soup was your next recipe I have tried. It is only difficult to write an opinion after so many modifications I did. In lack of mung beans I put green split peas, instead of fresh tarragon I used dried oregano and marjoram (typical herb to peas and beans in Polish kitchen).
    The soup was really very hearty and very good. The next day, the rest were so dense that we used it as a side dish to the fish. And it was tasty as well.
    It was the first time we have eaten such a hearty soup from kohlrabi. Our kohlrabi soup that I am doing at my home is rather thin and clear - I called it spring soup with kohlrabi (just a bit potatoes, carrot, parsley, backed onion (halved, backed directly on the fire or dry pan), lour leaf, 2 balls of all spice, salt, black pepper, a little bit of sweet peppers (powder) and of course kohlrabi and dill. Dill is indispensable for me. It is good as well to add kohlrabi leaves.

    So it is good to have hearty and light option for a spring, depending on the weather :)
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for trying my recipe and I really appreciate your feedback. Your spring soup with kohlrabi recipe sounds delicious! Thank you!:)

  17. It sounds delicious, but I wish you offered a printer-friendly option for your recipes. Blogger, like other blogs (WordPress), must have a print button available along with the social media sharing buttons.