Eggplant soup is easy, healthy and packed with so much flavor. This Persian soup is naturally gluten free and vegetarian.
We have so many eggplant recipes on the blog and some of our most popular ones are Middle Eastern Eggplant Recipe, Persian eggplant dip (kashke bademjan), and of course, Greek eggplant moussaka. This eggplant soup is another simple Persian recipe that's packed with so much flavor, and is a great way to use up eggplant.
About this recipe
Persian cuisine is based on family, gatherings and sharing food. Recipes usually yield more than 4 servings, especially if it's a dish that has delicious leftovers such as ghormeh sabzi and are always packed with amazing flavors. Persian recipes are usually healthy and easy to make. Some might need more time to cook but usually there are a few uncomplicated steps to make a delicious meal.
This eggplant soup is a healthy vegetarian recipe that happens to be gluten free, too. And it's perfect for a lazy, cold day! We have a lot of those this year here in Boston, so ash is a must-make for our family!
What is Ash in Persian cuisine?
Ash (آش) is a category in Persian / Iranian cuisine. It's a thick soup and is usually served hot. There are over 50 different types of ash in Persian cuisine .There are different spellings for ash such as āsh, aush, or aash. Ash is one of the oldest Persian recipes that is made in different parts of Iran with different ingredients in a large pot and is usually cooked for over an hour.
Ash is always thick and usually contains at least one type of legume such as chickpeas and lentils. Herbs such as parsley, spinach, mint and cilantro are used in most ash recipes. Ash Reshteh (Persian noodle soup) is a common and popular ash that's made with different legumes and herbs.
Ash can be made with or without meat. Some ash recipes call for meatballs which can be left out if you prefer a vegetarian version of the recipe. Ash is usually topped with kashk (کشک) which is fermented yogurt and you can find it in Middle Eastern/Turkish/Iranian shops. Kashk adds a nice salty and tangy flavor to ash.
- Eggplant: The main ingredient used in this soup is eggplant I prefer using Chinese eggplant in this recipe because of its tenderness.
- Onion and garlic: These are the base of many Iranian recipes, not only they add a lot of flavor, they also make the soup very smooth.
- Spices: You only need salt, pepper and turmeric for this recipe. Turmeric is a strong spice so make sure not to overuse it.
- Legumes: For this recipe, we use chickpeas and green lentils. It's also possible to use brown lentils for this recipe too but not red lentils since they break and lose their shape. You want the legumes to keep their shape in the soup. I used canned chickpeas for this recipe to keep the pace up but if you'd like to cook the chickpeas from scratch, that would work, too.
- Kashk: Also known as yogurt whey, kashk is usually added at the very end to the soup. It's also possible to just drizzle it on top. You can find kashk in Middle Eastern or Iranian shops. You can also make it at home using my recipe for kashk on Food Network.
- Cut the eggplants into chunks and sprinkle with salt, once they start sweating and release water, dry them using a kitchen towel and set aside. This procedure will help the eggplant absorb less oil.
- Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add in the eggplants and turmeric and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add in the lentils and give it a good stir. Pour the water into the pot and bring the soup to a simmer. Let it cook for about 30 minutes.
- Add in the cooked chickpeas and cook for a few more minutes.
- Finish by adding some kashk (yogurt whey) and serve with sautéed mint, more kashk and caramelized onion.
Persian cuisine is all about the details. This simple dried mint, kashk and caramelized onion topping gives so much more flavor to this dish that I simply cannot imagine having ash without these!
Ash is usually served in a large bowl with the toppings and to serve, it's stirred with a ladle and then divided in serving bowls. You can also serve them in individual bowls and top them with the sautéed mint and caramelized onion.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. Eggplants are peeled completely for this recipe as the skin might make the soup dark and since the eggplants are cooking long enough to be almost mashed, the skin would separate from the flesh anyway.
Yes, I love adding chopped parsley or cilantro with some spinach to this dish, it makes it more nutritious and delicious.
What I love about Ash is that it keeps very well in the fridge. Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
You need to soak the chickpeas overnight and cook them in a separate pot for about 30 minutes. Then you can add the fully cooked chickpeas to the soup.
Kashk has quite a unique flavor which is hard to replace. However, if you don't have kashk, use a combination of ½ cup sour cream mixed with salt and 1 to 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. This is the closest alternative to kashk.
More soup Recipes
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Persian Eggplant Soup - Ash-e Bademjan
- 4 Chinese Eggplants Peeled and cut into 1" chunks
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil or vegetable oil
- 1 large White Onion Diced
- 4 Garlic Cloves Minced
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 can Chickpeas Drained
- ¾ cup Green Lentils
- 4-6 cups Water
- ½ cup Kashk - Yogurt Whey
- 3 tablespoon Olive Oil Divided
- 1 Onion Thinly Sliced
- 2 tbsp Dried Mint
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- ½ cup Kashk- Yogurt Whey
- Sprinkle salt over the eggplant chunks and place them in a colander. Place the colander on a large bowl and let the eggplants sit for 20 minutes until they start releasing water. Place the eggplants on a kitchen towel and dry them with another kitchen towel. Set aside.
- Place a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Pour vegetable or olive oil into the pot and heat.
- Saute onion until golden. Add in garlic and saute for a minute.
- Add in the eggplants and turmeric. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add in the lentils and stir.
- Add in water and turn the heat to high. Bring the Soup to boil.
- Turn the heat to medium low. Add in chickpeas and cook until the eggplants and lentils are fully cooked.
- Stir in Kashk (Yogurt Whey). Cook for 10 more minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a pan, saute onion on medium low until soft and golden brown. Transfer them to a plate. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Once hot, add in dried mint and turmeric. Stir and cook for two minutes. Turn the heat off.
- Pour the eggplant soup into bowls. Top with more Kashk (Yogurt Whey), sauteed dried mint and caramelized onion.
- Serve Warm.
- You can add a bag (1 lb) of chopped spinach to this recipe. It's optional, but makes it more delicious.
- If using dry chickpeas, you need to soak them overnight and cook them in a separate pot for about 30 minutes. Then you can add the fully cooked chickpeas to the soup.
- You can find Kashk (Yogurt Whey) and dried mint in Persian, Turkish or Middle Eastern Shops.