A while back, my friend Tracey posted a picture on FB of a soup that her mother-in-law made. Ever the curious one, I asked what it was. Ash Reshteh. Off to the interwebs I went, looking for recipes for this intriguing soup. Based on what I found, every Persian family must have its own version of the soup, because there were as many differences as there were similarities. I will admit, up front, that this recipe is a very loose adaptation of the classic Persian soup, Ash Reshteh. I don't have kashk, I don't have Persian noodles, and I don't like chickpeas. There. I admitted it. I don't like chickpeas. I like hummus, but not big, chunky, grainy peas. The first time I made this, I used chickpeas and red kidney beans. This time I used red kidney beans and lentils. Yup, I left out the chickpeas. This can be made on the stove top, just increase your cooking time so that the beans are tender. My experiment this time was to see if it could be made in the pressure cooker, which it could. I am sure that the noodles don't get as soft when you cook on the stove top, but they get softer when you store the leftovers in the fridge anyway. So, here goes!
Persian Noodle Soup
2 T vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced vertically (retain a few for garnish, or cook up more separately)
2 t turmeric
1 small pinch of saffron
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water (can use a combination of water and stock)
1/4 to 1/2 lb red kidney beans (I soaked overnight, and used 1/2 and it was really, really thick)
1 cup lentils
1 small bag of Fideo noodles (Totally non-traditional, I know. A common substitution for authentic Persian noodles I found was linguine, broken in three. Feel free to use this instead.)
1 bag or clam shell box of baby spinach
chopped leaves from 1 bunch of cilantro
chopped leaves from 1 large or 2 small bunches of flat parsley
1 bunch of scallions, green part only, cut in to 2 inch pieces
1 cup of sour cream (a substitute for kashk, a fermented yogurt ingredient)
salt/pepper to taste
Set your pressure cooker on brown. Add the oil and let it heat up for a minute. Add the thinly sliced onions and stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to turn golden brown. Next, add the garlic, and cook for another minute or two. Add the turmeric and the pinch of saffron. Add the kidney beans, the water/stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover, lock lid in place, and set for 15 minutes, high pressure. (This step would take about 30-45 minutes on the stove, until beans were tender). When timer goes off, quick release the pressure. Add in the lentils and noodles. Re-cover and set for 7 minutes high pressure. (This step would take about 15 minutes on the stove) When done, quick release pressure. Before adding the vegetables, give it a good stir to make sure nothing is sticking. Now is a good time to check your seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the baby spinach and the herbs. Close the lid, set for low pressure for 5 minutes.
To serve, I spooned in to bowls and added dollops of sour cream on top, and garnished with crispy onion.