Persian Noodle Soup

Reshteh

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 2 hours, largely unattended

The traditional version of this Iranian noodle and bean soup calls for a couple hard-to-find ingredients: kashk, a cheese made by drying yogurt and reshteh, the long, thick noodles that give the dish its Persian name. Not to worry. Sour cream or yogurt and egg noodles or fettuccine taste just as delicious. The real key is to use fresh herbs, not dried.

1 cup chopped parsley

1 cup chopped fresh herbs, like dill, parsley, cilantro, chervil, or mint (use at least two kinds)

1/2 cup chopped scallion

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

3/4 cup dried black-eyed peas, washed, picked over, and soaked if time allows (see Cooking Beans, the Quick-Soak Way)

2 quarts vegetable stock or water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound thick egg noodles—or fettuccine broken into large pieces

1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt for garnish

01 Combine the parsley, herbs, and scallion in a small bowl and measure out 11/2 cups. Cover the rest of the herb mixture with a damp towel and refrigerate until needed.

02 Put the olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and turning golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the 11/2 cups of herb and scallion mixture. Add the peas and stock bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so the soup bubbles gently, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender, 1 to 11/2 hours. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

03 Bring the soup to a boil. If it looks too thick to cook the noodles, add a little extra stock or water. Stir in the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Watch the pot to make sure it doesn’t bubble over, turning the heat down a little if necessary. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve, garnished with a spoonful of sour cream and a generous sprinkling of the reserved herb mixture.