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June 20, 2011

Recipe for Iranian split pea, rice and herb soup with meatballs (aashe maste)


When I have herbs in my garden, I love to make soups from the Middle East, where they understand the power of combining abundant quantities of several herbs in the same dish. That makes this Iranian split pea, rice and herb soup with meatballs a gardening-season soup for me, though it's substantial enough for a main course at any time of year. You could make the little meatballs out of ground turkey or lamb rather than beef. Don't substitute dried herbs for fresh, though; it's the herbs that make the soup.

Iranian split pea, rice and herb soup with meatballs (aashe maste)

Adapted from The Soup Bible, this recipe serves 6-8, with a leafy green salad on the side.


2 onions
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp turmeric
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 qts water
8 oz lean ground beef
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
3 Tbsp each: chopped flat-leaf parsley, cilantro and chives
1 Tbsp butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh mint leaves, for garnish


Chop one of the onions. Heat the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy stock pot. Add the chopped onion, and sauté over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the turmeric, split peas, and 2 quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the split peas from sticking.

Grate the other onion into a bowl (use the medium holes of a box grater). Add the ground beef, and a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Use your hands to combine the mixture, then form it into small meatballs the size of walnuts. Gently add the meatballs to the soup, and simmer for 10 minutes, turning the meatballs as you stir from time to time.

Add the rice, parsley, cilantro and chives. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender. Mix in the yogurt and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

In a small frying pan, melt the butter over low heat, and sauté the garlic for 30-45 seconds, making sure it does not burn. Stir in the mint just to coat it with the warm garlic, then pour the contents of the frying pan into the soup pot. Taste, adjust with salt and black pepper as needed, and serve hot.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Jodi | June 20, 2011 at 01:19 PM

Lydia, this looks so delicious (and easy). I don't care if it's summer - I love to make soup all year long too!

Posted by: Jeanette | June 20, 2011 at 11:26 PM

What a beautiful soup Lydia - love the idea of little meatballs in this soup, makes a meal in one bowl!

Posted by: Kalyn | June 21, 2011 at 07:54 PM

I love everything about this, especially the abundant herbs and turmeric.

Posted by: Lydia | June 21, 2011 at 11:15 PM

Jodi, I feel the same way, and it's especially fun to make soup when the herb garden offers up its bounty.

Jeanette, this is a hearty soup, no doubt about it, but one that has the fresh taste of herbs. Perfect for summer or winter.

Kalyn, turmeric gives the soup that irresistible golden color. And nothing beats the flavor of fresh herbs.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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