kələm yerkökü Āsh: a hearty and healthy winter soup with cabbage and carrots

persian cabbage soup or aashthere’s nothing like a steaming hot bowl of thick and hearty آش‎ on a cold winter day.  Āsh (persian: آش‎) is a whole meal in itself that satisfies way beyond a simple bowl of soup. this thick cabbage soup known in our family as the kalam yerkoku (cabbage and carrots in azerbaijani) was (yet another) specialty of my grandma’s and always a favorite of mine (although i never ate the carrots). looking back, i feel like my mommonee always had a bowl of warmth waiting for us when we came in from playing in her enormous backyard. when it snowed, she covered us up so much we could barely walk before sending (or rolling) us out with loads of supplies to make snowmen-carrots, beans, buttons, twigs, old scarves and hats…and while we played with our noses running and our cheecks glowing from the cold, her pot simmered softly in the kitchen creating a most delicious aroma  welcoming us back home. before we knew it we were quickly unbundled and thawing out with a bowl of deliciousness that smelled like heaven (this one was often loaded with aromatic tarragon). oh how i long for those days-which is why i so often cook these thick soups that help tie me back to her, and the safety, love, and pure familial comfort they represent.

ingredients and preparation for 6-8 servings of cabbage, barley, and carrot Āsh:

persian cabbage aash

 

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (for piaz dagh)
  • 2-3 tsp turmeric
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2-3 cups organic spinach (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups chopped organic cilantro
  • 1 cup organic chopped parsley
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 cups cabbage, cut up in chunks
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled, cut in half, then in 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (i’ve been using avocado oil)
  • a nice bunch of fresh tarragon leaves (or 2-3 tbs dry)
  • 2 tbs dry mint
  • 5-6 cups good (preferably home made) chicken or beef broth
  • 1/2-1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (or more) kashk (or liquid whey)-can be substituted with sour cream
  1. presoak the garbanzo beans (6-8 hours ahead) and cook until tender, set aside (or you can use canned).
  2. in a dutch oven, brown the onions in about 1/2 of the vegetable oil with 1 tsp turmeric (see directions for making piaz dagh), remove 1/4 of the onions with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-set aside for garnish. add barley to the remaining onions with about 5 cups of broth, sea salt & pepper, 1 tsp turmeric, and several (another 5-6) cups of water. bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. add carrots, parsley, cilantro, scallions, and spinach, and cook for another 30 minutes. add cooked garbanzo beans and cabbage, making sure to adjust water if necessary (this is supposed to be a rather thick soup). taste and adjust seasoning. cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (careful it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot). add the fresh tarragon leaves (if using dry, add with cabbage) and liquid whey, stirring enough for it to fully incorporate. simmer for another 15-20 minutes.
  4. heat remaining oil to a small saucepan, then add minced garlic and fry just long enough until golden (be careful not to burn it). remove from heat, then add dry mint (crushing it between your fingers). combine well, and allow the mixture to sit for at least a few minutes before using. Stir 1/2 of mixture into the aash.
  5. serve topped with a few drops of the remaining garlic/mint oil, some fried onions (set aside from before), and a few drops of additional whey as garnish.
  6. this is when we say: noosh-e-jan!     see garnishes below on another favorite aash, aash-e-reshteh (persian noodle soup)

garnishes for persian aash

 

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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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