Chickpea and noodle soup with Persian herbs
Total time: 3 1/2 hours
Note: Kashk, a flavorful Persian yogurt-like dairy product, is widely available at Middle Eastern markets and can be substituted with labneh (strained yogurt).
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound onions (1 very large or 2 medium), chopped (about 3½ cups)
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), sorted and rinsed (about 4 ounces)
2 cups vegetable broth
8 cups water, divided
1/3 cup green lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces linguine, whole wheat or white, broken in 3-inch pieces (about 1½ cups)
1/3 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 (6-ounce) bunch spinach, large stems removed, leaves immersed in water and rinsed several times (about 5 cups leaves), chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint
Kashk, for serving
1. Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, or until it is soft and deep golden brown, about 25 minutes; as the onion starts to brown, reduce the heat and stir more often. Add the garlic and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 1 minute. Transfer about one-third of the mixture (about 1/3 cup) to a small bowl; reserve it for garnish.
2. Add the chickpeas, broth and 2 cups water to the saucepan. Stir well to blend in the onion mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 1½ hours. Add the lentils, turmeric, salt, pepper and 2 cups water. Return to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chickpeas and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. At this point you can refrigerate the soup.
3. Boil 4 cups water in another medium saucepan. Add a pinch of salt and the linguine. Cook uncovered over high heat until just tender, checking about 2 minutes before the time on the package instructions. Drain the linguine, reserving the cooking liquid. You should have a scant 2 cups cooked pasta.
4. Meanwhile, mix 2 teaspoons each of the dill, cilantro and green onion; reserve as garnish.
5. Mix the remaining dill, cilantro and green onion and divide in two parts. Divide the spinach in two parts.
6. Reheat the soup to a simmer. Add one part of the spinach and one part of the herb mixture. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add one-half cup of the pasta cooking liquid and cook until the spinach is very tender and the soup takes on a spinach flavor, about 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid and return to a boil.
7. Just before serving, bring the soup to a simmer. Stir in the remaining spinach and add the cooked pasta. Cook uncovered until the spinach just wilts, about 1 minute, adding more pasta liquid by tablespoons if the soup is too thick. Stir in the second part of the herb mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning.
8. Reheat the onion and garlic mixture reserved for garnish in a very small skillet over medium heat until sizzling. Add the dried mint, stir and remove from the heat.
9. Ladle the soup into a tureen or into bowls. Garnish each serving with a spoonful of kashk and with the onion-garlic mixture and the reserved herbs and green onion. Serve hot.
Each serving: 430 calories; 17 grams protein; 66 grams carbohydrates; 14 grams fiber; 13 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 10 grams sugar; 272 mg sodium.