Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Aashe Reshteh
Iranian Noodle Soup
Dry beans
In Iran, noodles symbolize the threads of life, and are associated with change and new beginnings. This soup is often prepared for the send-off of a loved one on the pilgrimage to Mecca, and for Naw-Ruz, the celebration of the vernal equinox. It is shared at Sufi gatherings at the beginning of each month, and is a favorite annual fulfillment of a pledge to God in gratitude for answered prayer. Aashe Reshteh is similar to Moroccan harira in its mix of legumes and pasta, but unlike harira contains no meat or flour.
Soaking: Overnight
Total second-day time: 2-½ hours
4 oz. kidney beans, winnowed and rinsed
4 oz. chickpeas, winnowed and rinsed
3 tbsp. cooking oil
1 cup onion, halved, sliced lengthwise
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. pepper
12 cups water
4 oz. lentils, picked over
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp. dried or 1 tbsp. fresh dill
½ tsp. dried or 1 tbsp. fresh oregano
2 cups coarsely chopped parsley or coriander
1 cup coarsely chopped scallions (green tops)
1 cup, coarsely chopped spinach
2 tsp. salt
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup thinly sliced onion
6 oz. linguine or fettuccine, broken up
1 tbsp. sour cream
¼ cup unsalted butter or ghee
2 tsp. dried mint

Combine the kidney beans and chick peas in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and let soak overnight. Drain and discard the water.

Heat the oil in a large pot, and sauté the onions until they turn golden. Stir in the turmeric and pepper, and stir for a minute. Add the kidney beans, chickpeas and 12 cups of cold water, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for an hour.

Add lentils, lemon juice, dill and oregano to the pot, return to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for another hour. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed to prevent the soup from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the parsley or coriander, scallion tops, spinach and salt; stir well to combine, and simmer for another half-hour. During this time, melt ¼ cup of butter in a separate small pan and fry ½ cup thinly sliced onions until brown and crispy. Set aside for garnish.

Add the noodles to the soup pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, swirl in the sour cream, and dish up the soup into a serving bowl. Heat ¼ cup butter or ghee in a small pan, sprinkle in the dried mint, and fry briefly, until it begins to give off an aroma. Remove the pan from the heat, and garnish the soup with decorative flourishes of mint-butter and the fried onions.