Aash or thick soups are a great part of Mediterranean and Persian cuisine. The main difference between Aashes and regular soups are the use of beans and legumes that usually take longer time to be prepared. Whereas in soups, herbs are used as a garnish to simply add more color to the dish. There are interesting variety of Aash in the Persian cuisine that are influenced by the region they are prepared.
The Tarragon soup is originally known as Shirazi Aash. Tarragon is not a common herb used in thick soups. And as for this soup, everything comes together when Tarragon is added to the pot. The soup is an easy one to make with the ingredinets found in any kitchen pantry. The lamb shank gives it a rich and filling taste making it a wholesome food especially for those cold days ahead.
Level: Easy Serves: 6
1 lb. lamb shank
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons of oil
1 cup rice (brown rice will be more nutritious), soaked
1/3 cup chickpeas, sorted for debris and soaked overnight
1/3 Navy beans, sorted for debris and soaked overnight
1/3 cup brown lentils, sorted for debris and soaked overnight
4 bunches of green onions, green part chopped
4 tablespoons of dried tarragon
1- It is best to soak the legumes and rice overnight, separately. This will help them to cook quicker and produce less hardship on the digestive system. Put together the legumes and rice in the crockpot on high. Add enough hot water to fully cover them, yet leave some room for when they expand.
2- In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Toss the chopped onions and sauté until they turn translucent. Add turmeric powder and stir. Adding turmeric to sautéed onion releases and intensifies the aroma of the spice. Remove half the onion from the pan to be used for later garnishing the soup.
3- Add the lamb shank. It is best to have the shanks cut up so the soup will benefit from all the secreted bone marrow. Turn down the heat and allow the outside of the meat to brown slightly. When the meat changes color, transfer to the crockpot along with the onion and the meat broth. Allow to fully cook for 3 hours or depending on the power level of your crock pot.
4- As the soup starts to thicken and the legumes become tender to bite, add the green onions and stir.
5- The cooking time mainly depends on how soon the legumes will be done. When the meat is easily separating from the bone, remove them from the pot and tear them into small pieces. Return them to the pot. It is best to use 2-3 pulses of a handheld mixer to mix the ingredients better and smooth out the soup a little.
6- It is best to add the dried tarragon to the soup half an hour before serving the soup to preserve its taste and fragrance. To make the soup even more fragrant, the dried tarragon can be sautéed in a small amount of oil before being added to the soup.
Like similar thick soups in Persian cuisine, a spoonful of sautéed onion on top along with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice will make this already-delicious dish more scrumptious. Noosh-e jān!