Persian Split Pea and Rice Soup with Lamb Meatballs


This bright, herbaceous porridge from cookbook author Naomi Duguid is a staple of Persian home cooking. Traditionally called ash, this soup can be made days in advance and reheats beautifully. Simply swirl in the tangy pomegranate molasses, then let the tiny lamb meatballs simmer in the soup for 10 minutes before serving. Slideshow: More Soup Recipes 

Persian Split Pea and Rice Soup with Lamb Meatballs
Photo: © Christina Holmes
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins



  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3/4 cup short-grain white rice

  • 3/4 cup dried green split peas, soaked overnight and drained

  • 2 cups finely chopped parsley leaves and tender stems

  • 2 cups finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, plus more as needed

  • Kosher salt


  • 1 small yellow onion, grated

  • 1/2 pound ground lamb

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 2 tablespoons dried mint

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced


  1. Make the soup In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, cinnamon and turmeric and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Add the rice, split peas and 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice and peas are tender and the soup is quite thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro and mint and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and season with salt.

  2. Make the meatballs In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoons of the ground lamb into balls. Add the meatballs to the soup and simmer until cooked through, 10 minutes. If the soup is getting too thick, add water.

  3. Meanwhile, make the toppings In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Add the dried mint and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Scrape the mint oil into a bowl and wipe out the skillet. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until golden and crisp, 8 minutes; drain. Serve the soup garnished with the mint oil and fried onions.

Make Ahead

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated gently before serving. Add the meatballs and simmer 10 minutes before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Aromatic rosé: 2015 Copain Tous Ensemble.

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