This week was Persian New Year - Salleh no mobarak! (which is “Happy new year” in Farsi!) I’m celebrating this weekend with the family - I’ll post pictures of the food and decorations next week. It’s a big party not to be missed!
I grew up in a mixed household -- half Iranian, and half American. I’m a true mutt. As a result, my idea of comfort food sometimes differs from my peers. Though I’ll go to town on mac and cheese with the best of them, I also regularly crave feta with walnuts for breakfast and complicated layered rice dishes for dinner. I generally only get to indulge when I visit my family. Most Persian recipes have imported ingredients I have to go out of my way for. This lazy home cook hates making extra grocery trips, so I just...wait for my mom to cook for me. Usually.
Thankfully, not all Persian food requires specialty ingredients and hours by the stove. I came down with a killer cold this week and, in addition to not getting out of my bathrobe often, I also found myself needing something hot and comforting. Aashe jo, Iran’s answer to chicken soup, has a rich, lemony broth studded with barley and vegetables. It’s a stick to your bones cure-all remedy for what ails you and is easy as pie!
This recipe is adapted from my lovely mother. She’s awesome.
AASHE JO (Iranian Chicken & Barley Soup)
5-6 cups of chicken broth
1 cup shredded chicken
3 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
¾ cup barley
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
1 egg yolk
¾ cup milk
¼ cup lemon juice
Heat up your broth to boiling - add the vegetables and barley. Cover the pot and simmer for about an hour until everything is soft. You might want to check on it every 10 minutes or so. If it stops being soupy and gets too thick, add more water or broth. Toss in the shredded chicken. Alternately, if you don’t have cooked chicken on hand, poach it in the broth prior to adding the vegetables and shred it while everything else is cooking.
In a separate small pan, melt the butter; add flour and stir together, frying for about a minute (just long enough to get rid of the raw flour flavor). Add the mixture to the soup and take it off the heat.
Whisk the egg yolk into the milk and then add the lemon juice (you might want to start with less than ¼ cup if you don’t like it too lemony - you can always add more later). Slowly pour the milk mixture into the soup, stirring constantly. After this point, do NOT boil the soup again! If you’re eating leftovers, reheat it gently over a low heat. Enjoy!