It is a thick, nourishing Persian noodle soup. Beans, lentils, noodles and cream fraîche make this a comforting one-pot meal, perfect for cold, winter nights. Pulses are an excellent source of plant-based protein, providing fibre, iron, and protein. Fibre plays an important role in lowering cholesterol levels.

INGREDIENTS Of Ash Reshteh (Healthy Heart)

  • ¼ cup dried chickpeas
  • ¼ cup dried white beans, such as navy or cannellini
  •  Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds spinach
  • 1 pound cilantro (about 3 large bunches)
  • 1 pound Italian parsley (about 3 large bunches)
  • 2 large bunches dill
  • 1 large bunch chives
  •  About 20 large fresh mint leaves
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, 1 finely chopped and 1 thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dried green or brown lentils
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 quarts chicken or beef stock (preferably homemade), or water
  • 1 ½ cups liquid kashk (Persian sun-dried yogurt or whey), plus 1/2 cup, for serving
  • 8 ounces reshteh (Persian soup noodles)
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint

PREPARATION Of Ash Reshteh (Healthy Heart)

  1. The day before cooking, place the chickpeas and white beans in a medium bowl. Add a generous pinch of salt and 2 cups of water. Refrigerate overnight. The day before or just before cooking, prepare the herbs and green vegetables: Wash the spinach, coriander and parsley, then use a salad spinner to dry well.
  2. Pass a knife through the spinach to cut the leaves into large pieces. Trim the woody ends of the cilantro, parsley and dill so that only the tender leaves and stems remain. Roughly chop the cilantro, parsley, dill, chives and mint leaves into pieces no larger than a quarter.
  3. If you prepare in advance, wrap the chopped vegetables and herbs in plastic bags and refrigerate them overnight. To cook, place a large Dutch (at least 10 pints) or a pot over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of oil. When the oil sparkles, add the chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt.
  4. Cook, stirring regularly, until onion is tender and golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Drain the beans and add to the onion with the lentils, turmeric and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the beans with oil and spices.
  5. Add the spinach and chopped herbs, broth or water and mix. Partially cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer the soup for 1 hour, stirring regularly to prevent the green vegetables from sticking and burning. If the soup remains very thick even after the greens have wilted, add an additional 1 to 2 cups of water, if necessary, to thin it out.
  6. Place 1 1/2 cups kashk in a medium bowl. Add a ladle or two of hot soup and whisk to dissolve, then add the mixture to the pan. The kashk will change the color of the soup from bright green to milky green. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then break the noodles in half and add them to the pan.
  7. Stir gently to mix the noodles and keep them from sticking, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are soft and fluffy and the beans are completely tender, about 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings, put a medium skillet on medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil sparkles, add the chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt.
  9. Cook, stirring regularly, until golden and caramelized, 16 to 18 minutes. Spread the cooked onion on a plate covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil; Let cool. Wipe the pan and return to medium heat.
  10. Add 1/3 cup of the remaining oil and heat gently over low heat, then stir in the dried mint and remove from heat. Set the mint oil aside and let it steep for at least 5 minutes. Place the remaining 1/2 cup kashk in a small bowl and thin with a few tablespoons of water until it has the texture of fine yogurt. Put aside.
  11. The soup should be as thick as a hearty chili. If it is thicker, dilute it with water, 1/2 cup at a time.
  12. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary, which explains why the noodles and kashk are well salted.
  13. To serve, pour soup into individual bowls. Drizzle with reserved kashk and mint oil, then garnish with a pinch of golden onions.