Ash or thick soup is an inseparable part of Persian cuisine. It is a complete meal filled with nutritious ingredients like legumes, spices, fresh vegetables and herbs. There are various types of Ash in each city of Iran or for different seasons and special occasions like Nowruz. The most popular of them is Ash Reshteh.
As autumn is the pomegranate season in Iran, Ash Anar, Persian Pomegranate Soup, could be a perfect choice for these cold days. This hearty Ash is a must eat food on the Yalda night gathering, the longest night of the entire year.
Pomegranate Magical Benefits
Pomegranate is mainly cultivated in the Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern countries. For Iranians, Pomegranate has a special place and it is the main seasoning ingredient of many Persian dishes, like Fesenjoon. You can trace its presence not only in cooking but also in culture and religion. It is considered as a heavenly fruit symbolizing life, fertility, and prosperity.
This favoured fall and winter fruit has incredible health benefits. Its high nutritional values made it as a remedy since old times. It is rich in vitamins like B, C, E, K and minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. Studies showed that the pomegranate has antioxidants and anticancer components. It also proved to be beneficial in protecting the heart, supporting a healthy immune system, and lowering blood pressure.
Is Ash Anar a Vegan Dish?
There are several recipes for this palatable Ash. Some add meatballs in it and some not. This version of Ash Anar does not have any meat. So, it is enjoyable for both vegetarians and vegans.
The Ingredients of Ash Anar
To cook Ash Anar for four persons you need:
- 1 medium-size onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup rice
- 1/3 cup yellow split peas or lentils
- 3 cups chopped fresh herbs (equal amount of parsley, chives, cilantro, and mint)
- 5 cups pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 3 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 1 Tbsp turmeric
- 1 Tbsp grounded Persian hogweed
- Salt & black pepper
How to Cook Ash Anar
The cooking process starts with washing and soaking yellow split peas and rice in lukewarm water for an hour.
Put a pot on medium heat and place yellow split peas, add four cups of water and let it boil for 20 minutes. In this way, you have tender, semi-cooked split peas and the cooking time will be reduced.
* If you are using canned legumes the first two steps are not required.
In a pot, heat the oil, put the onion and garlic together and fry them. After they get caramelized brown, add the turmeric and sauté for 3 minutes.
As the next step, add chopped herbs. After 10 minutes of stirring the colour of the herbs will change from bright green to dark green.
Then it is time to add the semi-cooked yellow split peas and rice to the pot and mix them.
Now pure the pomegranate juice to the pot. Stir gently, and bring the mixture to boil.
When it starts boiling, add pomegranate molasses along with grounded Persian hogweed, salt, and black pepper.
After 10 minutes, cover and reduce the heat. Let the soup gently simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, check the soup and if it gets too thick add some water.
When it gets a soft texture and smooth consistency, your Ash is ready.
Just taste the soup and adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish the Ash Anar with the crispy caramelized onions, pomegranate ruby arils, or freshly chopped parsley.
Viola, the mouthwatering Ash Anar is ready to be a joyful warm and of course, a light meal for cold winter days.
- If yellow split peas are not available, you can substitute it with lentils.
- You can use dried herbs instead of fresh herbs. In this case, substitute each tablespoon of fresh herbs with one teaspoon of dried herbs.
- For shortening the cooking time, you can use canned yellow split peas or lentils.
Ash Anar | Persian Pomegranate Soup
- 1 medium size onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- ½ cup rice
- ⅓ cup yellow split peas or lentils
- 3 cups chopped fresh herbs equal amount of parsley, chives, cilantro, and mint
- 5 cups pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
- 3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp grounded Persian hogweed
- salt & black pepper
- Wash and soak yellow split peas and rice in lukewarm water for an hour.
- Put a pot on medium heat and place yellow split peas, add four cups of water and let it boil for 20 minutes. If you are using canned yellow split peas, just add it to the soup.
- In a medium-size pot, saute the chopped onion and garlic together till they get golden, then add the turmeric and saute for 3 minutes.
- Add chopped herbs and stir for 10 minutes until the colour of the herbs changes to dark green.
- Add the semi-cooked yellow split peas or lentils with rice to
the pot and mix them.
- Pure the pomegranate juice. Stir gently, and
bring it to boil.
- After about 15 minutes, add pomegranate molasses along with grounded
Persian hogweed, salt, and black pepper.
- Then cover the pot and reduce the heat. Let the soup gently
simmer for an hour.
- You can substitute yellow split peas with lentils.
- Dried herbs can be used instead of fresh herbs. In this case, substitute each tablespoon of fresh herbs with one teaspoon of dried herbs.
- Using canned yellow split peas or lentils significantly shorten the cooking process.
- To garnish this hearty soup, you can use the crispy fried onion, pomegranate seeds or chopped parsley
Photos by Samaneh Zohrabi