The Persian tradition behind this dish, a type of porridgelike stew known to Iranians as "ash," is that long ago, someone in need would leave an empty soup pot by the road. Passersby would toss in coins so the pot's owner could buy ingredients. Today, visitors to a dinner bring an ingredient to throw into the soup pot.
Here, a little bit of meat is used for flavoring a rich, spiced mixture of budget-conscious beans, legumes and rice. Chuck roast is an inexpensive cut; next time you buy it, get one that weighs an extra quarter-pound and use the excess to make this soup.
Yield: Makes 4 1/2 to 5 cups
- 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 ounces boneless chuck roast
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup dried brown lentils
- 3 tablespoons dried red kidney beans
- 2 tablespoons dried chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons dried mung beans (optional)
- 2 tablespoons raw long-grain white or brown rice
- 1/4 cup chopped spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped scallions, white and light-green parts
Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until the garlic is golden but not burned. Transfer the garlic to small plate; use a fork to separate it into bits.
Add the remaining 4 teaspoons of oil; once it’s hot, add the boneless chuck and the onion, stirring to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes; once the beef has lost its raw look, stir in the turmeric, salt and the pepper to taste, then add the water, lentils, red kidney beans, chickpeas and the mung beans, if using. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
Add the rice, then cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add the spinach, parsley, dill and 1 tablespoon of the scallions. Cover and cook for 40 minutes; the soup should be quite thick.
Taste to make sure everything is cooked through; if it isn't, cover and cook as needed.
Divide among individual bowls. Garnish with some of the reserved garlic and the remaining tablespoon of scallions. Serve hot.
Adapted from "One-Pot Wonders," by Clifford A. Wright (Wiley and Sons, 2013).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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