One of the features of Middle Eastern food that I really appreciate is its tendency to mix things that I grew up thinking shouldn’t be mixed. Today the wisdom in the U.S. is still that two grains and three beans would be too much to load together in one meal. That it’s frequently done with great effects in Middle Eastern foods feels almost like a celebration to me.
Koshari is an example of this joyful piling together of starchy foods. Koshari is an Egyptian dish, a layering of rice, pasta, black lentils and chickpeas along with other ingredients. This delicious, creamy Persian soup, Aash e-Jo (barley, rice and 3 kinds of beans), is another example.
I started with a recipe from Persian Recipes. I made a few changes in the process so it would be easier to make, some changes in seasoning to suit my taste buds and a change in ingredients to make it vegan.
The result is a delicious, creamy, mildly seasoned soup with a nice hint of dill. I enjoyed the soup with a piece of my homemade spelt challah, of course.
Ingredients (10-12 servings)
- Barley, 250 grams
- Greens & herbs (parsley, cilantro, spinach, dill), 250-300 grams
- Beans (garbanzo, white beans, kidney beans and lentils), 750 grams
- Brown rice, 1 cup
- Spanish onion, 1 large petite diced
- Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
- Coconut milk (full fat), 1-2 fourteen oz. cans
- Salt, 2 TB
- Hot paprika, 1 tsp.
- Turmeric, 1 TB
- Water, 3 quarts plus
- Petite dice the Spanish onion and put into a soup pot with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Saute until caramelized.
- Rinse beans (about 4 cups) and add to soup pot. Add three quarts water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and let cook until done.
- While the beans are cooking, prepare the barley in a second pot. Just place the barley in the pot and add at least three times the volume of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let cook until done. Check the water periodically to be certain it covers the barley. When done, drain and set aside until the beans are cooked.
- Prepare the rice. Please one cup of rinsed rice in a pot with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let cook until done. Drain, and set aside until the beans are cooked.
- Combine rice and barley in the soup pot with the beans and onion. Add seasonings and let continue to cook covered on low heat until the seasonings blend.
- When the soup is finished, add chopped spinach, cilantro and parsley. I always end up adding more than this because . . . well, I have more and I like veggies.
- Just before you’re ready to eat, stir in the minced dill (I used about a cup), reserving a little bit to sprinkle on top as you’re serving.
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