Aash Shalgham is a Persian turnip soup is known and loved as the best cold remedy in Iran’s cold winter months. Shalgham is turnip and Aash is what Persians call a thick and hearty soup. There are many varieties of Aash in the Persian cuisine with complex flavors and usually numerous ingredients that make them wholesome and wonderful, and Persians love their aash. This recipe can be suitable for a vegetarian diet by using vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock and will fit a vegan menu by leaving out the yogurt.
I can honestly say that I love just about all the varieties of aash because it is put together easily with fresh and healthy ingredients and it warms you up inside like nothing else can. I normally serve aash with some bread and it is a perfectly satisfying meal by itself. I always find it so funny when some people refuse to consider soup or aash a main meal and think of it only as a starter. You might have heard the saying, “whoever has invented aash (soup) as a main course has no idea what hungry means!” I bet they were not talking about Aash Shalgham! It is delicious and hearty and a perfect comfort food that is incredibly good for you.
I am always eager to experiment and come up with good recipes, this is one such recipe that I am very pleased with. Aash Shalgham tastes wonderful and takes only about an hour from start to finish, so the vegetables and legumes keep their bright colors, flavor and shape. It feels good to come up with a recipe that is loaded with super foods. I have used two root vegetables in this aash, turnips and carrots. I have also used the very healthy and colorful stems and leaves of beet roots that are high in iron and magnesium. Similar to most Persian Aash recipes this recipe has some herbs, but not too much; here the herbs are mostly for some added flavor without overpowering the taste of other ingredients. I have added grains and legumes for their iron and fiber as well as their natural starch that is perfect for thickening this soup.
Shalgham, or turnips are grown worldwide and are known for being very nutrient rich and a great source of vitamin C. This is the main reason this turnip aash is made for this time of year. It boosts the immune system against all the cold that goes around in winter and some believe that it also helps the lingering cold related coughs. Turnip has white flesh and mostly white skin except for the very top that is light purple in color. Avoid buying large turnips because they are not as tender and depending on the size they might even get woody. I usually get turnips that are about 3 inches in diameter with a tender flesh. There is another root vegetable closely related to turnip and that is Rutabaga which can easily be mistaken for turnip, but that is not an issue in this recipe, in fact I have used Rutabaga in this recipe before and it is just as delicious. These two root vegetables taste very similar, with Rutabaga being a tad sweeter (slightly higher carbohydrates than turnips) and a yellowish flesh. Besides all the great health benefits both these vegetables are very low in calories and this makes them a great addition to any healthy diet.
When buying turnips select medium ones that are very firm with smooth skin and no soft spots. I have also used beet stems and greens for all their goodness not to mention the brilliant red color that makes this aash very colorful. I have the easy instructions for home cooked beans here but if you wish you may use canned garbanzo beans and red beans but rinse them first to get rid of some of the sodium. Get all your prep done and set them aside. You will need 1 cup of thinly sliced garlic chives (Persian tareh, or green parts of the scallions). Coarsely chop half a cup each of fresh parsley and cilantro.
Two medium carrots and 3 medium turnips are peeled. Carrots are sliced thin and the turnips are cubed to about 3/4 inch. Don’t dice the turnips too small, after all you want to see the shalgham in the Aash Shalgham! Besides, it taste wonderful when you bite into one.
Add the rice and bulgur to a nonstick 6-Qt stockpot. Wash under cold water and drain. Add 3 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook over medium low heat without covering it until rice and bulgur are tender and most of the water is cooked off.
Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and stir in one tablespoon of tomato paste. Add freshly cracked pepper and ground cayenne (leave them out if you are preparing this aash for someone with a cold and cough). Next add the herbs, cooked red beans and garbanzo beans, the sliced carrots and cubed turnips to the stockpot.
Bring the aash to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to the mark between medium low and low. Cover the stockpot and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the turnip is tender, but not mushy. Stir several times during the cooking period to prevent sticking. Now stir in half teaspoon crushed dried mint leaves. Cover the pot and cook over medium how heat for another 5 minutes, stir a couple of times.
Serve Aash Shalgham hot with some yogurt on the side (I have sprinkled some dried mint leaves and ground cayenne pepper on my yogurt). Sometimes I use a good squirt of fresh lemon instead of yogurt, your choice! This aash is wonderful with Sangak (Persian flat bread) but I also love it with crusty Italian or whole grain bread. Enjoy and keep warm!!
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: About 35 minutes
- ½ cup uncooked Jasmine rice
- ⅓ cup bulgur
- 3 cups cold water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 TBSP tomato paste
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- 1/16 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
- 3 cups coarsely chopped beet greens and stems
- 3 medium turnips, peeled and diced medium (about ¾ inch cubes)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 cup garlic chives (Persian tareh), or scallion greens
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (home cooked or drained from a can)
- ½ cup cooked red beans (home cooked or drained from a can)
- ½ tsp crushed dried mint leaves, to be added at the end
- Add rice, bulgur, ½ tsp kosher salt and 3 cups of water to a 6-Qt nonstick stockpot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer without covering for about 15 minutes, or until the rice and bulgur are tender but firm and most of the water is cooked off.
- Add 6 cups chicken stock and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Stir until the tomato paste is dissolved. Add the optional peppers (leave them out if you're preparing this aash for someone with a cold and cough), coarsely chopped beet greens and stems, cubed turnips, sliced carrots, herbs and cooked legumes.
- Bring all the ingredients to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to the marking between low and medium low. Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the turnips are tender. Stir several times during this time to prevent sticking.
- Add ½ tsp crushed dried mint leaves. Bring Aash Shalgham to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Stir occasionally and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Serve hot with a spoonful of yogurt or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy Aash Shalgham with Sangak (Persian flat bread) or a crusty Italian or wholegrain bread.