Ash-e Anar ( Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup )

Herbs and fruits are frequently prominent components in Persian cooking, often used to stunning effect when combined with rice, vegetables and spices. This split pea and pomegranate soup is just such a wonderful example of a blend of contrasting ingredients and flavors — from onions and garlic to seeds and spices, and from split peas and rice to fresh herbs and pomegranate molasses — all combined to produce an astonishing result. Hot, sweet and sour at the same time, there is more going on in just this one soup that can really be properly described, but it all joins together into a perfect whole. And a scattering of colorful pomegranate seeds on top burst with a tart pop in your mouth to provide a spectacular finish on the palate.

Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup

Ash-e anar is also a very simple and warming soup that's filling and nourishing at the same time. It doesn't require too much attention, making this an ideal soup for chilly evenings when you don't have a lot of time for prep work but you want something special. I like thick soups that are almost a meal unto themselves, especially at this time of year, and this recipe is written for that effect — but you can easily make this a thinner soup to be served as a starter either by increasing the liquid or reducing the quantity of split peas from 1 cup to 3/4 cup. Pomegranate molasses is a truly wonderful base for this and other soups and is a staple in Persian and Middle Eastern pantries. You can easily find it at any Middle Eastern and most Asian grocers, but if you can't find it you can easily substitute 2 cups of pomegranate juice plus a teaspoon of sugar or honey for the same amount of water or vegetable stock.

This is my contribution to this month's No Croutons Required, hosted this month by my dear friend Jacqueline. The theme for February is a soup or salad featuring fresh herbs.

Ash-e Anar (Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup)Ash-e Anar (Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Persian
Published on February 16, 2012

A simple sweet-and-sour Persian split pea soup bursting with the flavors of spices, pomegranate and fresh herbs

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Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (garnish)
Instructions:
  • Heat a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and stir a few times. Add the split peas and stir for 2 minutes.

  • Now add the crushed fennel seeds, turmeric, ground cinnamon and cayenne, and stir to coat the peas and vegetables. Pour in the vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the split peas are just tender.

  • Add the rice, cover again, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and herbs and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes to let the herbs wilt.

  • Remove from heat and season with salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Ladle into bowls, scatter pomegranate seeds over top, and serve hot.

Makes 6 - 8 servings
ash-e anar

Other recipes you many enjoy:
Shakshouka ( Tunisian Tomato & Pepper Stew with Eggs )
Mesopotamian Barley, Chickpea, Lentil and Tahini Soup
Zahtar ( Dukkah )

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Audio Accompaniment: Sasha

7 comments:

janet @ the taste space said...

Hey Lisa, This looks great! It seems to have most of the same elements as the Iraqi Pomegranate Soup I just posted, sans beet! Looks like a great variation. :)

Anu said...

Nice one Lisa.

Reva said...

Lovely flavourful soup... never tried this combination though..:))
Yummy..
Reva

Jacqueline said...

Pomegranate is a lovely touch. Never thought of adding it to soup. It looks so pretty sitting there on top :)

Johanna GGG said...

This looks spectacular - the sort of dish you want to have when you are out to impress people

Chris said...

Oh wow, I would never have attempted adding pomegranates to a soup but now I can't wait to try! Mmm, I never stop being amazed by soup!

Corina said...

What an unusual idea to add pomegranate seeds to soup. I keep looking out for pomegranate molasses and have a whole load of recipes I want to experiment with when I find it.