Persians are big on herbs - and I mean huge. I cannot recall a time at my Aunty's home where a massive bowl of herbs was not on the sofreh (table spread). Every meal is accompanied with salad and herbs. It's the life blood of this race. I swear their colons must be so clean, as the amount of greens they consume is out of this world. Mint, coriander, parsley, chives, radishes, you name it. So when it comes to soup, the Persians make no exception. They add cups of herbs to their soup. Whilst originally, Persians didn't consume much meat, favouring casseroled legumes and pulses with rice or bread (much like the Indians), as time has passed the addition of too much meat has crept in. However, regularly, most families opt for vegetarian days and this soup is a perfect example of a protein packed, high fibre, vitamin rich dish. It is ideal for any seasons, but I particularly enjoy it in spring.
Here is my take on the Persian Bean soup. You can add more spices if you like, but my family prefers is plain (I prefer HOT! but as Mick Jagger said, 'You can't always get what you want'.)
Asheh Hoobebat (Bean Soup) - makes a lot! About 6 serves.
1 cup mixed beans, washed and soaked overnight
1 large onion finely diced
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 bunch spinach
3 cups parsley
3 cups coriander
1 cup chives
1 cup mint
salt & pepper
1. Saute diced onion and minced garlic in some oil until just past translucent. Add turmeric and mix well. Add beans and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook covered for 1 & 1/2 hours
2. As the beans are cooking, get your greens ready - wash thoroughly and chop well. (but not minced, just chopped). The key to this dish is to ensure that the herbs have no stalks. Remove the leaves from the stalks entirely, except for the chives of course. This is time consuming but worth the effort. It makes for a lovely consistency.
3. Add the greens to the soup and cook on a gentle medium heat for another 1 & 1/2hrs with the lid on. Check the soup after this time and make sure the beans are cooked through. As you will have many different beans - make sure they're all soft. Now season to taste.
4. Serve with a dollop of yogurt (the way I like it) or with some cooked onions.
This soup is so versatile, you can add root veggies or some chicken pieces, even some quinoa. The possibilities are endless. But it's the herbs that make this dish. It's superb!