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.
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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.
I made this the other day. I had make a few tweaks because I only had a red onion and I used a regular eggplant, but I will definitely be make this again. Delicious and nutritious!!
This soup sounds so warming and delicious. I love added turmeric. Makes it even more healthy. I will definitely make this soup over the weekend.
Can this be made without the whey to suit a vegan diet? Will the outcome be okay?
Yes! It'll still be very delicious, just make sure to taste and see if it has enough salt 🙂
I love how delicious AND HEALTHY this soup is - just what I have been looking for!
I can almost not describe how much flavor was in this. The spices were warming and comforting. They are an amazing lift to the hearty legumes and meaty tasting eggplant. Love so much about this recipe.
I am all about eggplant and this recipe wasn't the exception, I loved all those PersianTAvo flavors, it was very different and flavorful1
I am always looking for new ways to use eggplant and this soup looks delicious.
Very nice site. Easy to get to the recipes and not a lot of extraneous comment . cannot wait to try the recipes. I love eggplant and eat it often so am always looking for new ways to cook it.
Hope you enjoy this one Alisa!
can you explain how to make this in an instant pot??
Hi Maddie, yes, prepare the eggplants as mentioned in the recipe. Start by pressing the saute function and saute onion and garlic in oil. Add in eggplants and saute for a few minutes. Add in the lentils and 4 cups of water. Lock the lid and make sure the valve is on "sealing". Press the "pressure cook" and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the lentils are cooked, add the chickpeas and give it a nice stir. Add the kashk and you're done. Enjoy!
Shadi, I like this recipe so much. can you Give some extra tips on how to cook Ash in slow cooker?
Hey Shooka! Yes, to make eggplant Ash in slow cooker, start with sauteing onion and garlic in some olive oil, once golden, add in turmeric and eggplants chunks and cook for about 10 minutes, add 1/3 cup water if needed. Put the eggplant and onion mixture in the slow cooker then add chickpeas (canned), lentils and 4-5 cups of water to the slow cooker. Turn it on and cook on high for about 5 hours or low for 8 hours. Stir in the kashk after this time and cook on high for another 30 minutes (you might need to add more water). Serve with the toppings 🙂
This looks delicious but I don't live somewhere that I can get yogurt whey. Is there a substitute or can it be left out?
Hi Lauren! You can simply use the same amount of sour cream mixed with a tbsp white vinegar as a substitute 🙂
Alina | Cooking Journey Blog
This soup is great for winter season! I love the topping idea, too. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Alina! Thank you for your comment! The topping is great for any kind of Ash. More recipes are coming!
Thank you for making your great Persian recipes easy to follow for us westerners that have come to love great Iranian or Persian food! Luckily I live where we have some good Middle Eastern restaurants and bought 2 Persian cookbooks but you also make it much easier to find the right ingredients by showing where some of the ingredients are available. Love your blog!
Hi Patricia! Thank you for your kind comment! That's what I love to do, show everyone that Iranian food is simple, easy and delicious 🙂 If you like easy to follow Persian recipes, check out my cookbook "The Enchantingly Easy Persian Cookbook". Let me know if you have any questions 🙂
Oh yes.. btw I have this cookbooks and it is amazing. I can finally make good rice tahdig. Not sure on spelling for that. I love eggplant any which way and your recipes come with good substitutes for veggies!! Love this book!!
I'm glad you like it! Tahdig is correct but it's also written tadig 🙂