Ash Reshteh is a common refreshment at celebrations – wedding parties, women’s pre-chuppa parties or a celebration held for a baby’s first tooth. Tradition dictates that when a family member leaves on a journey, a vow is made to make the soup upon their safe return. Upon the return of the family member, a celebration is held, a large amount of soup is prepared, and shared with the neighbors.
When preparing ash reshteh for a special occasion, after cooking the beans and vegetables, the women gather in the kitchen. Each woman adds some noodles to the pot, while making a blessing and conveying their wishes to God. According to tradition, one prays first for the people of Israel, then personal prayers are added – for relationships, livelihood, fertility and male children, complete healing for the sick, safe return for travelers, for buying a house, for buying a store for their husbands, etc.
Many years ago, when I was growing up in Taysarkhan in western Iran, we would make noodles at home and save them for cold winter days (after all it is four months of winter with lots of snow). My father’s house had a room for drying noodles with clotheslines, under which we would put a large sheet so that if some of the noodles fell, they would remain clean. After a day or two they would be dry and we would store them and use throughout the winter.
Ingredients for Iranian Noodle Soup
- 8.8 oz (250 grams) chickpeas
- 8.8 oz (250 grams) Red Kidney Beans dried
- ½ cup canola oil
- 4 onions cut into strips
- 1 bunch cilantro washed and finely chopped
- 1 bunch dill washed and finely chopped
- 1 bunch mint leaves washed and finely chopped
- 1 bunch spinach or beet greens, washed and finely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley washed and finely chopped
- 1 container garlic chives (called "Tare" in Persian) washed and finely chopped
- 8.8 oz (250 grams) green lentils
- 8.8 oz (250 grams) mung beans
- ½ cup oil
- 8.8 oz (250 grams) Bulgur or 4 tablespoons of flour mixed in a cup of cold water until smooth
- 1½ tablespoons Salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1½ tablespoons turmeric
For the Noodles
- 3 cups flour plus additional for kneading
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1.1 lbs (500 grams) thin noodles or homemade noodles
- 3.5 oz (100 grams) dried mint or fried mint
- 1 container eshel or kashk, cooked, reduced and dried eschel, similar to a yogurt stone (for purchase in specialty stores or prepare yourself according to the recipe on the FOODISH website)
- garlic fried, (for purchase in spice stores or fry sliced garlic in oil until golden)
Prepare the Soup:
1. Soak the chickpeas and kidney beans in plenty of water in two separate bowls overnight. Drain and rinse. Transfer the chickpeas and beans to a large pot, add water to cover and cook for about an hour, until softened.
2. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a wide pan, add onions and fry for about 30 minutes until brown. Add 4 tablespoons of the fried onion to the chickpeas and beans (set the remainder aside for serving) and the rest of the soup ingredients and cook for another 30 minutes.
Prepare the Noodles:
3. Place all the noodle ingredients in a bowl and mix, until you get a dough, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Dust a work surface with flour. Divide the dough into two and roll each half into a large circle with a rolling pin. Flour the surface of the dough, fold it in half and cut with a knife into thin noodles. Use the fresh noodles immediately or flour them, hang them to dry for a day or two and store in a sealed box.
Add the Noodles and Serve:
4. Add fresh or dry noodles to the soup and cook for 20 minutes or until they soften. Transfer to serving plates and add the fried onion, dry or fried mint, eshel or kashk and fried garlic (for those who like it).