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Persian Pomegranate Soup with Meatballs (Ash-e Anar)

Ash-e Anar (Persian Pomegranate Soup with Meatballs)

Adapted from Louisa Shafia
Course Entree
Cuisine Persian
Author TheSpicedLife


For the soup:

  • 2-4 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 2 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups chicken stock (low sodium if commercial)
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate molasses

For the meatballs:

  • 1 yellow small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef or lamb
  • 1/4 cup (scant) finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup (scant) finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup (scant) finely chopped fresh spearmint (or 2 T dried mint)
  • 2 t sea salt

For garnish:

  • pomegranate seeds (count on at least 1 pomegranate, preferably 2)
  • 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • chopped parsley and cilantro (I had extra from measuring out for the meatballs)


  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally and let caramelize. When they are golden brown, add the garlic. Also keep a cup of water by the cooktop to splash into the pan if the onions start to scorch or stick.

  2. After about 15 minutes, when the onions have caramelized brown, add the turmeric and cumin. Stir, and let cook for 30-60 seconds. Then add the split peas and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  3. Let the soup simmer for 1 hour.
  4. While the soup is simmering, make the meatballs. Stir together all of the ingredients--use your hands toward the end to work the ingredients into the ground meat, but do not overwork the mixture.
  5. Use wet hands to form walnut-sized balls of the mixture.
  6. Place the meatballs in a large nonstick or seasoned cast iron skillet (do in 2 batches if necessary to avoid steaming the meatballs) on medium high heat. Brown the meatballs on one side and then remove.
  7. When the soup has been simmering for an hour, stir in the pomegranate molasses. Then carefully add the meatballs. Bring back to a simmer and then cover again and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  8. Taste for additional salt or pepper.
  9. Serve with yogurt, fresh chopped cilantro and parsley, and fresh pomegranate seeds.