This recipe is one of those staples for the winter months, especially when you're facing temperatures hovering around zero degrees for the week, like we are right now in London.
Originally from the fantastic book Veggiestan by Sally Butcher who owns a great deli near us selling all the Middle-Eastern ingredients you could possibly need. I just messed with the recipe slightly this time adding an Ottolenghi touch of pomegranate molasses (he adds this to everything by his own admittance) and cut down on the varieties of beans and lentils required as they were to much to soak and cook separately. The original recipe is pretty much kitchen store cupboard, calling for kidney, cannelini, mung, chickpeas, brown lentils, rice and bulgar wheat.
It's a bit like an Indian Kichadi recipe with the combination of lentils and rice. Soothing for the stomach and plain (in a good way) restorative broth. Great as a meal when you've been over-indulging and need something simple (not that I ever do - see Theresa for a rundown of my austerities).
Persian Mung Bean and Rice Soup (Ash-e-Sholeh)
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 cup mung beans
1/2 cup pudding rice
2 tbs olive oil
1 stick celery (chopped finely)
1 tsp cumin, coriander
1 tsp dried parsley, mint, dill, tarragon, basil
1/2 tsp turmeric, cayenne
1 generous pinch of saffron
6 cups water
2 tbs yeast flakes
1 tbs soya sauce
2 tbs vinegar
2 tbs pomegranate molasses
Good handfuls of fresh parsley, coriander and dill (chopped roughly)
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
1. Rinse the chickpeas, mung and rice in a few changes of water, separately, in three different bowls. Drain and soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
2. Cook the chickpeas in 3 cups of water on a low simmer for an hour or so until soft. Drain and set aside.
3. Cook the mung in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes or until they start to go mushy. Drain and set aside.
4. Add the olive oil to a large, heavy bottomed, saucepan and warm over a low heat. Add t he celery and sauté until it starts to soften (about five minutes). Now add all the herbs and spices down to the saffron and stir for another minute, toasting the spices slowly over a low heat.
5. Now add the water, yeast flakes, soya sauce and vinegar. Partially cover the pan and bring to the boil. When it reaches boiling point, turn down and add the rice, keeping the pot semi-covered.
6. Simmer for another 45 minutes, stirring regularly. Add more water if it's looking a little dry, unless you want a stew, that is.
7. Add the rest of the ingredients; the fresh herbs, lemon juice, molasses and season well. Serve with a with a swirl of yogurt or vegan yogurt if desired and garnish with a sprinkling of paprika.