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Persian Pilgrim’s Soup Recipe


  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed and chopped
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 60g dried moong dal, rinsed and drained
  • 60g dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 200g spinach leaves
  • a large bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley and/or coriander
  • dried dill and oregano (optional)
  • 250g mixture of cooked butter beans, chickpeas and kidney beans
  • 100g Iranian noodles (reshteh or rishta) or Italian linguine
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • dairy-free sour cream, plain yoghurt or labne (Middle Eastern strained yogurt), to serve
  • 1 lemon or lime, cut into wedges, to serve
  • fried caramelised onions (optional), to serve


Heat the olive oil in a large pan and soften the onion gently, until golden brown. Stir in the chopped leek and cook for another few minutes, then add the turmeric and heat through to release its aroma. Add 1.5 litres of water (or stock), then tip in the moong dal or lentils and the whole mung beans, bring back to the boil, covered, and simmer for about 1 hour, until the pulses are soft.

Meanwhile, pick over the spinach leaves and parsley and/or coriander, strip off the tough stalks and then wash the leaves. They can be dried in a salad spinner. Chop the leaves roughly.

When the lentils are cooked, add the cooked beans and chickpeas to the pot and simmer for about another 20 minutes. Stir in the chopped herbs and spinach and more water if necessary, bring back to the boil, then drop in the noodles and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked.

Adjust the seasoning, then serve with dairy-free sour cream, plain yogurt or labne, and quarters of lemon or lime to squeeze in as desired.

Fried caramelised onions are often spooned over at the end.

Recipe courtesy of Beans, Peas & Everything In Between by Vicky Jones, published by Ryland Peters & Small. Photography by William Reavell © Ryland Peters & Small


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