Ash Reshteh

published Mar 14, 2022
Ash Reshteh Recipe

Mersedeh Prewer's hearty soup — a classic Persian dish made with noodles, beans, and greens — is comfort in a bowl.

Serves6 to 8

Prep30 minutes

Cook2 hours

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
ash reshteh in bowl
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Ash Reshteh is probably the most well-known and cooked soup amongst us Iranians and others who are familiar with Persian cuisine. The reason behind this, other than it being delicious, is the fact that Ash Reshteh features in the events leading up to and after Nowruz (Persian New Year). 

Nowruz falls on the Vernal Equinox every year, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the first day of the first month of the Iranian calendar (Farvardin). The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year, and families gather together to observe the rituals. Based on this calculation, the day Persian New Year falls upon can vary, but generally it is either on March 20th or 21st. Nowruz translated means “new day.” The Nowruz celebrations last for 13 days.

The festivities and rituals we observe are focused on letting go of the winter and the negativity that may be associated with it and looking forward to new life, prosperity, and the general optimism brought by the spring and summer months. 

What Is Ash Reshteh?

Although Persian ash (pronounced ‘aash’) recipes are often described as soups when translated to English, they’re hearty bowls of goodness with a consistency more like chowder, stew, or chili. Ash Reshteh is no exception to the rule — a wholesome bowl packed full of Persian noodles (‘reshteh’), kidney beans, chickpeas, green lentils, fresh herbs and greens and flavored with kashk (a fermented yogurt sauce). The flavor profile of this dish is complex yet perfectly balanced with a freshness coming from the herbs and a musky citrus note from the kashk. Each bowl is garnished with a drizzle of thinned kashk, some dried mint oil, and sprinkling of the fried onions. It’s deeply comforting and a hug in a bowl!

This dish is served primarily at two of the Nowruz events, the first being the opener of the period of festivities, Chaharshanbe Soori; and the second being the event marking the end of the holidays, Sizdah Bedar.

Chaharshanbe Soori

The first event in our Nowruz festivities takes place on the evening of the last Tuesday before Persian New Year. It is a festival of fire. 

People in all parts of Iran and the diaspora (those of us who have made our homes outside of Iran) celebrate this festival by setting up bonfires, which we jump over, in public places in Iran, at organized events throughout the world, or in our gardens at home. Eating Ash Reshteh while watching people jumping over the fire is a long-standing tradition for my family and for many other Iranians.

The tradition of jumping over the bonfire originates from people believing that the fire would take their problems, sickness, and winter pallor and replace it with energy and warmth, contributing toward their success in the upcoming year. It is a celebration of good health and light. As we jump, we chant the following words: Zardiye man az toh (my pallor to you); Sorkhiye toh az man (your redness to me).

Sizdah Bedar

Sizdah Bedar is the final day of the Persian New Year festivities. It is celebrated on the thirteenth day of Nowruz. The festival’s name translated means ‘getting rid of the thirteenth.’ As with many cultures, the number 13 represents bad luck to Iranians so it is believed that by being outside with nature on the thirteenth day, the bad luck dissipates. Therefore, on Sizdah Bedar, Iranians spend the day outdoors. Many will go out for a family picnic in a local park and one family member will be entrusted with bringing a pot of Ash Reshteh wrapped in a blanket (insulation to keep it warm)!

Come rain or shine we will gather outdoors and celebrate this day eating our Ash Reshteh and other Persian delights. The day ends with throwing our sabzeh (sprouted lentils or wheat and one of the symbols of Nowruz representing rejuvenation and new life) into a nearby river or stream. Before the sabzeh is thrown into the water, the sprouts are knotted and a wish made. We say our goodbyes after the picnic full of joy and hope for the year ahead.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Ash Reshteh Recipe

Mersedeh Prewer's hearty soup — a classic Persian dish made with noodles, beans, and greens — is comfort in a bowl.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 2 hours

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup

    dried chickpeas (about 3 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup

    dried red kidney beans (about 3 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup

    dried green lentils (about 3 ounces)

  • 13 1/2 cups

    water, divided, plus more for rinsing

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1

    large bunch fresh cilantro (3 1/2 to 5 ounces)

  • 1

    large bunch fresh dill (3 1/2 to 5 ounces)

  • 1

    large bunch fresh parsley (3 1/2 to 5 ounces)

  • 5

    medium scallions

  • 7 ounces

    baby spinach (about 7 packed cups)

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 3

    large cloves garlic

  • 3 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground turmeric

  • 2 (32-ounce) cartons

    vegetable broth (8 cups)

  • 5 ounces

    reshteh (dried Persian noodles)

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup

    kashk (fermented yogurt)

  • Up to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)

For garnish:

  • 2

    large yellow onions

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried mint

  • 1 tablespoon

    kashk

  • 1 tablespoon

    water

Instructions

  1. Place 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, 1/2 cup dried red kidney beans, and 1/2 cup dried green lentils in a large bowl. Add enough water to cover, then drain off the water. Return the beans and lentils to the bowl, add 5 cups of the water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and soak overnight at cool room temperature.

  2. Drain and rinse the beans and lentils. Transfer to a 3 1/2-quart or larger pot or Dutch oven and add the remaining 8 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the lentils are just cooked through and the beans are almost cooked through, about 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, trim the tough stems from 1 large bunch fresh cilantro and 1 large bunch fresh dill. Pick the leaves from 1 large bunch fresh parsley. Trim and cut the dark green parts from 5 medium scallions (reserve the light green and white parts for another use).

  4. Working in batches, add the greens and 7 ounces baby spinach to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until finely chopped. (Alternatively, finely chop by hand.) Transfer to a bowl.

  5. Finely chop 1 large yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Crush 3 large peeled garlic cloves.

  6. When the beans and lentils are ready, drain through a colander and rinse. Rinse out and dry the pot.

  7. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in the pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, and stir to combine. Add the beans and lentils and cook for 1 minute, gently stirring to combine.

  8. Add 2 (32-ounce) cartons vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, occasionally skimming any foam that rises to the top and stirring, about 20 minutes.

  9. Add the chopped greens and simmer uncovered until wilted, about 20 minutes. It will be initially a vibrant green and will slowly change to dark green.

  10. Add 5 ounces reshteh (break them in half if needed to fit) and stir to combine. Cover and simmer until the noodles are very soft, about 20 minutes. (This is a good time to make the garnishes.) The texture of the Ash should be thicker than soup like a chili, but not so thick it feels like there is no liquid in it. Thin out with a little water if needed.

  11. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup kashk 1 spoonful at a time, and mix it fully into the Ash, tasting as you go. Some put less kashk into their Ash and add more to their liking by way of a garnish. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Although pepper is not traditionally added to Ash Reshteh, you can add up to 1 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer over low heat until heated through.

Make the garnishes:

  1. Halve and thinly slice 2 large yellow onions. Heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and a pinch of kosher salt and cook, stirring regularly, until golden-brown and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

  2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add 2 teaspoons dried mint and stir to combine. Scrape into a heatproof bowl.

  3. Place 1 tablespoon kashk and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and stir to combine. The texture should be like heavy cream, thin out with more water if needed.

  4. To serve, ladle the Ash Reshteh into bowls, drizzle with some of the diluted kashk and mint oil, and top with a sprinkle of the fried onions.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions

  • Substitute Reshteh for an equal amount of dried udon noodles or spaghetti.
  • Sour cream can be substituted for the kashk, but kashk is such a unique taste that it is worth going the extra mile to get your hands on it. No need to dilute the sour cream with water.

Liquid: Water or chicken broth can be used in place of the vegetable broth.

Make ahead: The ash reshteh can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.