This soup is very popular in Iran (from where it originated) as well as in Iraq. I am reminded as I am posting this of my enchanting trip to Shiraz (Iran). The success of the trip I owed in major part to lovely Ava, who conducts food tours and cooking classes in Shiraz. She advised me on the best hotel to stay in, took me to the traditional bazaars and tearooms that I would have never found on my own; in addition, we cooked traditional Persian food in her darling cottage converted into a cooking school and surrounded by a garden. Shiraz was a dream of a city, full of culture, art, music in the streets, great food, history, amazing architecture, but I would not have enjoyed it as much if I had not met Ava and been guided by her.
As for this delicious and hearty soup, in Iran people like to gather the solid ingredients, drain them a bit and mash them, and then eat them in a wonderful flatbread called sangak with pickles, onions, radishes and herbs. The sangak bread is so good, I brought some with me to Beirut and ate it for several days (it’s at least 2 feet long!).
Here is a baker specializing in sangak.
Ava‘s welcoming treats waiting for me in my hotel room.
Iranian family out for ab ghusht or kalam polo in a traditional restaurant aka tearoom in Shiraz.
My wonderful guide for Architectural wonders, Jalali Pezhman.
Ava teaching me how to prepare traditional Persian dishes
Lamb and bean soup (Ab Gusht)Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern February 24, 2021 Main Dish, Meats, Soups, traditional food, Iraqi, Iranian, Soup, lamb, beef, other red meat, other red meat, beef, stew,
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
1 1/2 lb lamb shanks
1 can chickpeas
1 can navy beans (or red kidney beans or yellow split peas)
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 dried limes, poked with a hole in two or three places
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup rice (or coarse bulgur or can use quinoa)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks, soaked in a water
salt, black pepper (to taste), ground cinnamon (1 tsp), turmeric (1 tsp), cayenne pepper (1tsp or to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil or ghee
1 stock cube (beef)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Optional: a pinch of saffron, bloomed in 1/4 cup of warm water (previously powdered in a mortar with a dash of salt or sugar)
- In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil or ghee and fry the meat and onions for about ten minutes, or until the meat is browned.
- Add the tomato paste and pour about 6 cups of water (or stock); add the dried limes and season with cinnamon, turmeric, and pepper. Wait until the stew is ready to add salt, after tasting. Simmer for about one hour or until the meat is tender. At this point, add the potatoes, rice and beans and simmer some more, about 30 minutes, and adjust seasoning at the end.
- Discard the lamb bones, and squeeze the dried limes to extract every possible flavor. Taste for extra seasoning.
To make Gushte Kubideh:
- Using a strainer, lift all the solid ingredients from the stew (meat, beans, rice, potatoes) and mash until you obtain a thick coarse purée like mashed potatoes, adding a little more broth if necessary. Keep the broth warm.
- Serve the broth warm in bowls and the gushte kubideh and serve with sangak bread or any flatbread like lavash or saj or markouk and some raw radishes, herbs and green onions.
Note: I like to add a few drops of chili sauce to this dish.
The traditional Iranian dish contains yellow split peas and rice.
It is easier to poke holes in the dried limes if they are softened a bit in hot water.
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