When I was editing the photos for this dish I had the exact same visceral reaction that I did upon seeing the photos at 101cookbooks: I want that soup and I want it now. If you’re a soup lover and a legume lover like me, this dish is pretty much nirvana. It’s simultaneously creamy and brothy, rich and healthy, homey and exotic. It’s the kind of dish where the dinner table will be silent except for slurping–and every slurp is a compliment to the chef.
The New Year’s reference is for a Persian new year, so as far as I am concerned this soup should be enjoyed year round, with particular emphasis on cold weather months, vegetarian one pot meal nights, healthy meal nights, days you’re feeling under the weather… you get the idea. Heidi of 101cookbooks does not explain the significance of the meal beyond noting that it is from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s Saraban: A Chef’s Journey through Persia. So clearly I have another cookbook to acquire.
How you approach this dish will depend on whether you are using canned or dried legumes. For the split peas, I only recommend dried. For the white or pink bean and the chickpea, you can take either route–although I always believe your results will be superior if you cook dried. If you use dried beans, you will also then have bean broth to add to the dish. In my case I used canned chickpeas but I cooked a dried Yellow Eye Rancho Gordo bean–it was 2-tone, as you can see in the photos. The original recipe calls for borlotti according to Heidi. I did add the resulting bean broth to my dish–otherwise you would use more stock.
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 long red chili OR green serrano, finely chopped, 0ptional (I left out)
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- approx. 8 cups (see my notes above re: bean broth) chicken or vegetable stock, low sodium if using commercial
- 100g /3.5 oz yellow split peas
- handful or 2 of red lentils, to thicken broth
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if using canned
- 2 cups/350g cooked yellow eye beans or borlotti beans (rinse if using canned)
- salt to taste
- 120 g thin egg noodles, fresh or dried (I used Chinese egg noodles)
- 3½ oz/100g fresh spinach leaves, finely shredded
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 T chopped fresh dill
- juice of one lime or lemon (I used lemon as it was what I had)
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced (if you love caramelized onions like we do you might want to double the onion and add fat to need)
- sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
- additional lime or lemon juice/wedges
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and optional chile and cook until the onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another thirty seconds, then add the stock. Bring to a boil and add the split peas and lentils to the pot. Cook until the split peas are just tender, about 25 minutes (the red lentils will basically disintegrate). Stir in the cooked chickpeas and yellow eye/borlotti beans. Once the beans have heated throughout, season with salt to taste. Add more cumin if you think it needs it (I like a lot of cumin).
- In the meantime, begin preparing the toppings. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until dark and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle a bit more salt to taste. Set aside.
- I prefer to cook the noodles separately so I can add them to the leftovers separately. If you prefer drop them into the pot about 10 minutes before serving dinner. Otherwise cook them separately in salted water until al dente. Drain and ladle into bowls before serving.
- Right before serving, stir the spinach, cilantro and dill into the pot. Add a big squeeze of lime or lemon to the pot or serve wedges along with each bowl of soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
- Serve right away over noodles, each bowl topped with a big spoonful of caramelized onions and some sour cream (we also used Greek yogurt one night and it was wonderful too).
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