Persian Yogurt Soup with Chickpeas, Lentils and Spinach

This is part three of a series of recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check out the other recipes here.




Persian Yogurt Soup with Chickpeas, Lentils, and Spinach

Ashe Sbanikh

There are two ways to make this creamy soup. You can start with the stabilized yogurt and then add the other ingredients, or you can simmer the soup first and add the yogurt at the end. Either way will work as long as you do not let the soup boil and curdle the yogurt. With the jewel-like pomegranate arils, yellow turmeric tint to the yogurt, and the green of the herbs and spinach, this soup is visually a stunner.

Serves 6



1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight in 4 cups of water

3- 4 cups thick yogurt

½ cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for a half hour or longer

1 egg

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cinnamon

5 cups vegetable broth or water

1/2 cup lentils, soaked overnight in 2 cups of water, drained

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cups chopped green onions

1 pound spinach, well washed and chopped

5 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced very fine

Pomegranate arils



Drain the chickpeas and rinse. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, about 45-60 minutes. Set aside.

Cook the lentils in water to cover until tender but still a bit firm.

Spoon yogurt into a large saucepan. Add the egg, flour, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and stir with a whisk. Add the rice, and 3 cups of stock or water to the pot. Cook gently, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes. When the rice is tender but firm, add the cooked chickpeas, lentils, the parsley, green onions, spinach and 3 tablespoons of chopped mint and the rest of the stock. Simmer for ten to 15 minutes.

In a small sauté pan, melt the butter. Sauté the garlic until soft but not colored. Add to the soup, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with remaining chopped mint. Garnish with pomegranate arils.


Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.