Eshkeneh-yeh Adas (Lentil Egg Drop Soup)
Somewhere between a soup and a stew, eshkeneh appears in various preparations throughout Iran. One of the oldest dishes in the country’s cuisine, eshkeneh is simple, flavorful, nourishing and hearty. The rustic dish requires minimal ingredients and satisfies on cold winter days. This version is made with lentils, potatoes and eggs, which are typically added at the end as a thickener, and is flavored with a hit of warm Aleppo pepper. The dried fenugreek leaves add depth, warmth and a distinct bittersweet fragrance. You can also use about 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped fenugreek leaves if you have some, but do not use seeds or powder. Be mindful that too much fenugreek turns a dish bitter.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1large Yukon Gold potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
- Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- 1teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1teaspoon Aleppo pepper, plus more to taste
- ½teaspoon black pepper
- 1tablespoon tomato paste
- ¾cup green or brown lentils
- ⅓cup chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems, plus more as garnish
- 2teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves, crushed between your fingers (optional) (see Tip)
- 3large eggs
- Flatbread, for serving
Step 1In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the potato, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, just so that the potato pieces are no longer raw. Add the turmeric, Aleppo pepper and black pepper, give it a stir, and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook just to take off the raw taste and deepen its color, stirring and taking care not to burn the paste, about 1 minute.
Step 2Add the lentils, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add 6 cups of water, partially cover, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt or salt to taste, and stir. Cover completely, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and potatoes are cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add the cilantro and fenugreek, if using, and simmer for 5 minutes, until the herbs release their fragrance and flavor the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Step 3In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until combined. In a thin stream, add half of the eggs to the soup, gently breaking them up with the whisk, then repeat with the remaining eggs. (You don’t want to scramble the eggs here, but just break up the eggs into strands.) Cover and cook for 2 minutes, until the eggs set. Divide among bowls and garnish each with cilantro leaves and a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper, if you like. Serve hot with bread on the side.