hearty yogurt soup {ash-e-mast}: the mushroom soup that wasn’t

persian yogurt soup or ash

on making ash~a deliciously comforting and hearty yogurt soup:

the plan is to make a nice and creamy mushroom soup for dinner with the left over mushrooms from the ragout served at my dinner party a few nights ago. i even go as far as chopping the onion and slicing a few mushrooms before my mind begins to wander towards the fragrant bag of dried tarragon my mom recently brought back from her visit home. i briefly consider adding some to my soup before i find myself rummaging through  the refrigerator where i promptly find two nice bunches of cilantro, a bunch of korean chives (how good are those), and some flat leaf parsley. wow, who knew? all i can think of at this point is how badly i want (almost need) to make ash-e-mast (yogurt soup) the way my grandma made it: thick, hearty, fragrant, creamy, and loaded with tarragon. that is how my mind works- i just can’t help myself….can’t seem to stick to the (menu) plan most of the time! at this point, i have no choice but to make ash-e-mast. no spinach? check the freezer just in case. still no spinach. well, then, it’ll have to be a spinach-less ash. i say goodbye to the mushrooms (with just a tiny bit of guilt), and promise to use them soon in some sauce or other. out comes the dutch oven, a few grains of rice, split peas, turmeric. before i know it, i’m surrounded with the overwhelmingly familiar scents of {home}. and oh i miss my grandma so.

preparing ash-e-mast for 6-8:


yogurt soup

  • 1/2-1 cup long grain (basmati) rice
  • 1/2 cup slow cooking yellow split peas (lappeh)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced and fried (see method for making piaz dagh)
  • 2 cups roughly chopped organic cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions or chives
  • 1 cup roughly chopped organic flat leaf parsley
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup of fresh tarragon leaves (or slightly less dry tarragon)
  • 1-2 cups yogurt (european style) adjust amount to taste
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 4-5 cups good (preferably) home made chicken/beef/or vegetarian stock (chicken stock or broth)
  • 3-4 cups water Continue reading
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another must have (make) soup: crimini mushrooms, zucchini, and pearl barley soup with fresh rosemary

when i was growing up our meals reflected the availability of the seasonal produce in our local “baghalis” or neighborhood markets. today some of us are moving back towards embracing that same traditional approach to cooking and eating as we realize how important the quality (and  origin) of the food we eat is to our health and well being. no matter the season, my childhood meals were always accompanied by an abundance of home made pickles, preserves, jams, and syrups-all varieties of condiments that preserved the life of the produce well past its seasonal prime.  i vividly remember the pungent smell of large vats of crushed grapes turning into vinegar at the end of my grandmother’s garden (the smell almost made you woozy), and waking up to the sweet smell of jam being made with the last of the sour cherries towards the end of summer. partly in an attempt to keep some of these old(new) traditions alive, i’m making a serious effort these days to buy and use local and seasonal produce (often from farmers markets), and to “make do” with what i have available rather than go out for specific ingredients geared towards a particular recipe. that is how (and why) the following soup came to be-i had made a vegetarian chili with crimini mushrooms and zucchini and had some of both left over. in thinking about how these two ingredients could work together, soup (love soups) came to mind. simple as that-crimini mushrooms, zucchini, a couple of potatoes….then some (good for you) coconut milk and fresh rosemary from the garden-still in need of some substance: in came the pearl barley…and a new soup was born. we had it for dinner…it was a big hit.
chopped vegetables being sauteed in oil with rosemary
  • 2 medium zucchini-cubed
  • 15-20 crimini mushrooms-cubed
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large yellow or white onion
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1.5-2 cups coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsps organic coconut oil
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup barley (i used pearl)
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 large lime or 1/2 lemon
pearl barley

cooking directions:

cube the onion, dice the mushrooms & zucchini, and sautee in oil (in a deep heavy pot) for about 5-7 minutes until tender. coarsly chop the rosemary, then add to the vegetables with sea salt and pepper to taste. add cubed potatoes (you could also leave these out), broth (chicken or vegetarian), and coconut milk, and simmer for about 20 minutes. add the rinsed barley to the soup and cook for another 30-40 minutes. add the freshly squeezed lemon juice about five minutes before serving. simple as that. enjoy!
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